2011 Coverage

See also 2012 press coverage.

The following are highlights of the latest media coverage of the Griffin Poetry Prize and its principals.

Note: Some of the links included here require publication subscriptions or registrations.


October 6, 2011
Swedish Poet Wins Nobel Prize for Literature
by Julie Bosman

Tomas Transtromer, a Swedish poet whose sometimes bleak but graceful work explores themes of isolation, emotion and identity while remaining rooted in the commonplace, won the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday.

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy praised Mr. Transtromer, saying that “through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality.”


October 6, 2011
Swedish poet Tomás Tranströmer wins Nobel Prize
by Greg Quill

It wasn’t much of a surprise to Scott Griffin, founder of the prestigious, Toronto-based Griffin Poetry Prize, that Swedish poet Tomás Tranströmer got the big nod Thursday, as the 2011 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, and of the $1.5-million cheque that comes with the world’s biggest cash literary award.

“He’s a giant in Scandinavia, a giant in the poetry world, and he certainly deserves it,” said Griffin by phone from Venice of the man he helped honour in 2007 in Toronto with the Griffin Trust’s Lifetime Achievement Award.


October 6, 2011
Nobel prize for literature goes to Tomas Tranströmer
Swedish poet acclaimed for ‘condensed translucent images’ which give us ‘fresh access to reality’

by Richard Lea and Alison Flood

The Swedish Academy has awarded the 2011 Nobel prize for literature to one of its own: the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer.

Tranströmer becomes the eighth European to win the world’s premier literary award in the past 10 years, following the German novelist Herta Müller in 2009, the French writer JMG le Clézio in 2008 and the British novelist Doris Lessing in 2007.

Sweden’s most famous poet becomes the 104th literature laureate, and is the first poet to take the laurels since Poland’s Wislawa Szymborska in 1996. Praised by the judges for his “condensed translucent images”, which give us “fresh access to reality”, Tranströmer’s surreal explorations of the inner world and its relation to the jagged landscape of his native country have been translated into more than 50 languages.


October 5, 2011
John Burnside finally wins Forward poetry prize
Shortlisted on three previous occasions, the Scottish poet takes the £10,000 honour at last

by Mark Brown

After being merely shortlisted in 2000, 2005 and 2007, there was a pleasing sense of “about time” to the news that John Burnside has finally won the Forward poetry prize for best collection.

The Scottish poet was handed the £10,000 award at a ceremony in London on Wednesday evening, triumphing over a shortlist that the prize’s founder William Sieghart said was “one of the finest” in its 20-year history.


September 25, 2011
Ottawa poet-barkeep tapped to judge Griffin literary prize
by Kristy Nease

A local poet, playwright and barkeep is one of just three people chosen to select the winners of the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize, the largest prize in the world for a single published collection of English work.

David O’Meara, 43, has been a regular fixture at The Manx Pub on Elgin Street (where he can be counted on for a fine joke and a correctly-poured Guinness on Fridays and Sundays) for more than a decade. But his expertise runs further than the bar’s selection of scotches.


September 21, 2011
Griffin Poetry Prize reveals jury for 2012
by Mark Medley

If Heather McHugh, David O’Meara and Fiona Sampson find themselves being treated especially nice by their peers over the next nine months, here’s why: the three poets will serve on the jury of the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize, it was announced on Wednesday.


August 22, 2011
Dr. Philip Mosley makes shortlist for international poetry award

Dr. Philip Mosley, professor of English and Comparative Literature at Penn State Worthington Scranton, was one of the finalists named to the international shortlist for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize.

Dr. Mosley’s translation from the French of The Book of the Snow by Francois Jacqmin was the work for which he was selected. It was one of 450 books of poetry submitted, including 20 translations, from poets in 37 countries.


July 21, 2011
A posse of pithy poets
Annual Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology offers a look at the latest and best

by Julia Wright

Not everyone’s into poetry. Maybe that’s because, for verse-virgins, buying a whole collection by an untested author is an intimidating commitment. What if you don’t like this person? What if they duped you with that initial, pithy piece, and the rest of the book is pretentious reflections on prairie shrubs? For a taste of the latest and best in the world of modern poetry, grab the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology.


June 8, 2011
An evening of gist and pith with poets
by Joe Fiorito

John Sewell attended the Griffin Prize poetry reading last week. No surprise; his first degree was in literature, and by my count he has written more books and published more articles than any other mayor of the city of Toronto.

I was curious to know if he also wrote poetry. The way he said he used to, but didn’t any more, made me think he should get back to it.


June 5, 2011
Scott Griffin’s Top Prize

When Canadian poet, Susanne Buffam, walked onstage at a reading for the Griffin Poetry Prize earlier this week, she came armed with a camera.

As she stood at the podium – she herself was a nominee for this year’s Prize – she said she had never seen so many poetry-lovers in one place …

Host Michael Enright invited Scott Griffin into the studio to talk about a subject that’s very close to his heart.


June 4, 2011
Readorama | News from the Kansas City-area book scene

Toronto-based Griffin Trust has awarded its International Griffin Poetry Prize to Gjertrud Schnackenberg for her 2010 collection, “Heavenly Questions.” Locals heard Schnackenberg read from the deeply introspective book last fall on the Midwest Poets Series at Rockhurst University.


June 3, 2011
Literary awards get it right
Two recently announced literary awards went to the right people, for a change
by Susan G. Cole

The Dayne Ogilvie Award, presented to an emerging queer writer, went to local light Farzana Doctor and The Griffin Poetry Prize was awarded to the gifted Dionne Brand. The Griffin Prize is the way bigger of the two – with its hefty $65,000 payout – but the Dayne Ogilvie Award shows its big vision in a different way.

June 2, 2011
Griffin Prize 2011 Reading
by Patrick Connors, newz4u.net

On Tuesday, May 31, in Koerner Hall at the Royal Conservatory of Music in the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, a different song was being sung. The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry gave the following shortlisted artists a $10, 000 check for making the finals.


June 2, 2011
Dionne Brand Wins Griffin Poetry Prize
by Clelia Scala

The winners of the Griffin Poetry Prize were announced last night at a ceremony in Toronto. Dionne Brand was named the Canadian winner for her book, Ossuaries (McClelland & Stewart). Gjertrud Schnackenberg took home the international prize for her book, Heavenly Questions (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). They were each awarded $65,000.


June 2, 2011
Gjertrud Schnackenberg interviewed by Jonathan Galassi

Galassi: Your new book, Heavenly Questions, is one of the most powerful elegies in recent poetry. It represents loss – anticipated, arrived at, and lived with – with a directness and at the same time with a universalizing reserve that are unlike anything I can think of. It seems almost an assault to ask you to talk about work that is motivated by such extreme experience from a critical distance. And yet I feel the work also demands this. How do you think we should begin talking about it?

Schnackenberg: Maybe we could begin by talking about the iambic pentameter line, and what it means, and what it does, and why it’s there. I know that poetry isn’t music, and that the rhythm-sound of a poem is secondary – by which I mean that poetry is not primarily a soundscape. But we can’t gainsay the emotional meaning – sometimes corroborative, sometimes opposing – of its rhythm-sounds.


June 2, 2011
Griffin Poetry Prize Winners for 2011 Announced

Dionne Brand’s Ossuaries and Gjertrud Schnackenberg’s Heavenly Questions are winners of the 2011 annual Griffin Poetry Prize. They each received $65,000 CDN in prize money.

The Griffin Poetry Prize was founded in 2000 to serve and encourage excellence in poetry. The prize is for first edition books of poetry written in, or translated into, English and submitted from anywhere in the world.


June 2, 2011
Dionne Brand wins Griffin Poetry Prize

On behalf of rabble.ca, we would like to congratulate Dionne Brand for winning the Griffin Poetry Prize. She won for her book Ossuaries, a novel-length narrative poem about the life of an activist, Yasmine, living an underground life. This distinction is well-deserved.


June 2, 2011
Washington State Poet Wins Griffin Prize

Canada’s Griffin Poetry Prize, which awards an international and a Canadian poet sixty-five thousand dollars Canadian (roughly sixty-six thousand American dollars) each, was announced last night in Toronto. The city’s poet laureate, Dionne Brand, took the national prize for her long poem Ossuaries (McClelland & Stewart), and Tacoma native Gjertrud Schnackenberg won the international award for Heavenly Questions (Farrar, Straus and Giroux).


June 2, 2011
VS Naipaul’s Sexist Remark, Dionne Brand’s Griffin Poetry Prize Win
by Pat Donnelly

Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul has been quoted in the Guardian as making an incredibly sexist remark, saying there’s no woman writer he considers his equal, not even Jane Austen.

If he really believes his own blather, it must be driving Naipaul crazy to see that both the 2011 Griffin Prizes for poetry were given to women yesterday.


June 2, 2011
Dionne Brand wins Griffin honours
by Victoria Ahearn

Toronto poet Dionne Brand has won the Canadian Griffin Poetry Prize while American poet Gjertrud Schnackenberg nabbed the international prize. The $65,000 Griffin prize is said to be the world’s richest for poetry.


June 2, 2011
Schnackenberg and Brand Win Griffin Poetry Prizes
by Leigh Anne Williams

Gjertrud Schnackenberg won the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize in the international poetry category, and Dionne Brand was awarded the prize in the Canadian category at a ceremony last night in Toronto. Each received a check for C$65,000. The prize is the largest in the world for a single book of poetry in English. Each of the seven finalists receives C$10,000 and participates in readings for a crowd of about 1,000 people the night before the award is presented.


June 2, 2011
Dionne Brand thanks Shakespeare, Bob Marley as she wins lucrative prize
by Victoria Ahearn

Toronto poet Dionne Brand won the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize on Wednesday night, thanking everyone from Bob Marley to William Shakespeare in the process.

“I have to say, Dionne, that I’m impressed with your friends!” joked prize founder Scott Griffin as Brand wrapped up her expansive acceptance speech at the downtown awards gala.


June 2, 2011
Dionne Brand wins the Griffin Poetry Prize
by Brian D. Johnson

The two winners of the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize both happen to be North American women with an academic pedigree who were born in 1953 – Canadian winner Dionne Brand, who immigrated from Trinidad at 17 and teaches at Guelph University, and Tacoma-born international winner Gjertrud Schnackenberg, a highly awarded American poet who has lectured on campuses ranging from M.I.T. to Oxford. Presented last night at a dinner in the Fermenting Room of Toronto’s distillery district, the awards recognize Brand’s book Ossuaries and Schnackenberg’s Heavenly Questions. Each poet will receive $75,000 from the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, founded by Scott Griffin – one of the richest literary awards in the world ($65,000 plus $10,000 that each nominee receives).


June 1, 2011
The 2011 Griffin Prize Poetry – Shortlist Readings

The 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize winners will be announced later on today.

Yesterday evening, the Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Readings took place in downtown Toronto in the Telus Center for performance and learning.


June 1, 2011
Griffin Prize Winners Announced
by Harriet Staff

Dionne Brand is the Canadian winner of the Griffin Prize, while Gjertrud Schnackenberg won the International prize. Both will receive a total of $75,000 for the awards.


June 1, 2011
Dionne Brand wins $75,000 Griffin Prize
by Vit Wagner

Toronto poet laureate Dionne Brand is the Canadian winner of the $75,000 Griffin Poetry Prize, announced Wednesday evening during a gala dinner in Toronto’s Distillery District.

Brand, previously nominated for the 2002 collection thirsty, won for Ossuaries, a book-length poem.

“Are you sure?” Brand said when the announcement was made by Irish writer and jury panelist Colm Toibin.

“This is so lovely,” she said before rhyming off a list of influences that spanned centuries and styles, ranging from the Russian master Alexander Pushkin to reggae great Bob Marley.


June 1, 2011
Dionne Brand wins Griffin Poetry Prize

Toronto poet Dionne Brand has won the Griffin Poetry Prize for her narrative poem Ossuaries.

Brand won the $65,000 prize – Canada’s richest poetry prize and the world’s largest prize for a single poetry collection in English – at a gala in downtown Toronto Wednesday night. Brand and each finalist also earned $10,000 for participating in the readings the night before the prize gala.

In her acceptance speech last night, Brand thanked all the poets who have inspired her, invoking the names of more than 20, ranging from Elizabeth Bishop and Milton Acorn to Keats, Shelley and Bob Marley.


June 1, 2011
Dionne Brand gets the Griffin
by Stuart Woods

In handing out the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize, prize founder Scott Griffin spoke of the borderless quality of great poetry.

That sentiment was echoed by this year’s Canadian winner, Dionne Brand, who, in accepting the $65,000 prize, thanked a long, varied list of poets who had “kept [her] company” over her decades-long career, from Frederico García Lorca to Derek Walcott to Dorothy Livesay to Sappho.


May 31, 2011
Griffin Poetry Prize finalist Suzanne Buffam says award’s reach is far
by Victoria Ahearn

Vancouver-raised poet Suzanne Buffam has been earning kudos for her work for over a decade, winning accolades such as the CBC Literary Award for Poetry and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award for Poetry.

Still, even the most revered poets sometimes have trouble reaching audiences outside their niche market. Buffam says her Griffin Poetry Prize nomination is helping her do just that.


May 31, 2011
The Griffin Poetry Prize Questionnaires
by Mark Medley

As with past years, The Afterword has asked the finalists on the Canadian and International shortlists to answer a few questions about their craft:

May 28, 2011
Seamus Heaney: Griffin Poetry Prize finalist
by Vit Wagner

Seamus Heaney says his way of writing a poem hasn’t changed: “I’ve always relied on that little quickening that comes from wakening up to something I’ve known all along. Call it by the grand name of inspiration.”

May 28, 2011
Literary awards are abundant in Canada, but some see a downside
by John Barber

Once the recipients of hearty handshakes for prize-winning efforts, Canadian authors now stand to win semi-serious money, at least on par with that dispensed by more famous international awards. The winner of the Giller Prize gets $50,000, while the British Columbia National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction gives out $40,000. After doubling its purse to $200,000 in 2010, the Griffin Trust now awards $75,000 to two winners. By comparison, the famous Man Booker Prize is worth about $80,000, while Pulitzer Prizes come with a cheque for $10,000.


April 12, 2011
Concordia claims two of three poetry prize contenders
by Karen Herland

Of the three Canadian hopefuls short-listed for the Griffin Poetry Prize, one studied at Concordia, and another spent a year here as a scholar in residence.

Suzanne Buffam completed her MA in Creative Writing at Concordia in 2003. Some of the poems that appear in her Griffin-nominated book, The Irrationalist (House of Anansi 2010), first appeared in a chapbook published in 2003 by Delirium Press, a collective micro-press that was run by then Concordia MA students Heather Jessup and Kate Hall (whose first poetry collection, The Certainty Dream, was nominated for the Griffin prize last year).


April 6, 2011
Mattawa’s Translation of “Adonis” Shortlisted for Griffin Poetry Prize 2011

Scott Griffin, founder of The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry and David Young, trustee, announced the International and Canadian shortlist for this year’s prize noting that judges Tim Lilburn (Canada), Colm Toíbín (Ireland) and Chase Twichell (USA) each read 450 books of poetry, including 20 translations, from poets in 37 countries around the globe.

The International Shortlist (below) includes Khaled Mattawa’s translation of “Adonis: Selected Poems” originally written in Arabic.

April 6, 2011
Griffin Poetry Prize Announces 2011 Shortlists
Irish Nobel Winner Heaney, Toronto Poet Laureate Brand Among Named

by Patrick Connors, newz4u.net

On Tuesday, April 5, the finalists for the 2011 Griffin Prize were announced at Le Select Bistro.

April 6, 2011
Heaney shortlisted for poetry prize
by Charlie Taylor

Seamus Heaney has been shortlisted for the prestigious 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize award for his latest collection Human Chain .

Heaney (71) is among the nominees for the international prize, which was won by Cork-born poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanain for her collection The Sun-Fish , last year.

April 6, 2011
Griffin Poetry Prize finalists announced

Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney and Toronto poet Dionne Brand are among the finalists for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize.

The prize jury considered about 450 books of poetry from 37 countries, including 20 works in translation. The result is one of the most varied fields in the award’s 11-year history, with nominees including Syrian poet Adonis, the first Arab writer to be nominated for the prize.

April 5, 2011
Brand, Buffam, Steffler vie for 2011 Griffin Prize
by Stuart Woods

The 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize pits two established Canadian poets against a relative newcomer.

McClelland & Stewart, the publisher with the most wins in the prize’s 11-year history, has two titles on the Canadian shortlist: Ossuaries by Governor General’s Literary Award winner Dionne Brand and Lookout by former Parliamentary poet laureate John Steffler. They’re up against The Irrationalist (House of Anansi Press), the second collection by Suzanne Buffam. Anansi, which published the two previous winners (Karen Solie and A.F. Moritz), could become the first publisher to win three consecutive Griffins.

See also 2010 press coverage.

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