2010 Coverage

See also 2011 press coverage.

The following are highlights of 2010 media coverage of the Griffin Poetry Prize and its principals.

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

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June 24, 2010
Poet Karen Solie piles up prizes
Toronto-based writer wins the Trillium Book Award for Poetry

by Vit Wagner

No one writes poetry for the money, but this year at least the financial rewards continue to mount for Karen Solie.

The Saskatchewan-bred, Toronto-based poet has added Ontario’s $10,000 Trillium Book Award for Poetry to the $75,000 she earned earlier this month as the Canadian winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize. She won both awards for Pigeon, her third collection of poems.

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June 4, 2010
Poets do the best stand-up
by Brian D. Johnson

Gotta love the poets. I spent the past two nights with them ­ first at an evening of readings by the Griffin Poetry Prize nominees, then at last night’s 10th annual Griffin awards dinner, where the winners were announced. Two warm-spirited blond women who titled their books after small animals took home the big awards. Irish poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, one of four nominees for the international prize, won for The Sun-fish. And Toronto writer Karen Solie, one of three Canadian finalists, won for Pigeon. Each prize is worth $65,000 ­ plus $10,000 automatically awarded to all the shortlisted poets honoured at the event. Which adds up to a grand total of $200,000. Reversing the laws of publishing physics, that’s a miraculous windfall for the stubbornly unprofitable, unco-optable vocation called poetry ­ all thanks to the munificence of Scott Griffin.

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June 4, 2010
Irish academic wins top poetry prize
by Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Irish poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has won the prestigious Canada-based Griffin Poetry Prize for her collection, The Sun-fish. Ní Chuilleanáin, born in Cork city in 1942, is a fellow and professor of English at Trinity College Dublin, and a member of Aosdána. Her collection, published by The Gallery Press, was chosen from almost 400 entries across 12 countries.

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June 4, 2010
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin wins Griffin Poetry Prize

Former Poetry Ireland Review editor Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin was announced as the winner of the international prize in the tenth annual Griffin Poetry Prize. The award, for her book The Sun-Fish, is worth $65,000. Canadian, Karen Solie was awarded the Canadian prize, also worth $65,000, for her book Pigeon.

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June 4, 2010
A glitzy evening of pregnant pauses and poetic justice
by John Barber

Difficult questions abound at a social event as unusual as the banquet where the Griffin Poetry Prizes are awarded every year, especially once the plates are cleared and speakers begin to rise. Does one clap at the end of each poem? If so, how does one know when it’s over, rather than merely pausing dramatically to let what one doesn’t quite get sink in?

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June 3, 2010
Karen Solie, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin win Griffin Poetry Prize
by Mark Medley

Karen Solie was named the Canadian winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize at a gala ceremony in Toronto on Thursday night, eight years after first being nominated for the country’s most prestigious award for poetry.

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June 3, 2010
Saskatchewan poet wins Griffin

Saskatchewan native Karen Solie has been named the Canadian winner of the lucrative Griffin Poetry Prize. Solie’s Pigeon took the $65,000 honour Thursday night at a Toronto gala that featured a speech from English poet and playwright Glyn Maxwell. Irish poet Eilean Ni Chuilleanain won the international prize, also worth $65,000, for The Sun-fish.

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June 3, 2010
Griffin Poetry Prize sells out
by Chandler Levack

Tonight’s poetry reading at Koerner Hall’s 1,135 seat auditorium is sold out. At the last poetry reading I went to, held in a stuffy Kensington Market apartment where the audience sat on pillows, there were approximately 20 people in the audience, five of whom were directly related to me and the other 15 were waiting around to hear a performance from Alannah “Black Velvet” Myles. But over a thousand people for poetry? Even Griffin Poetry Prize chairman Scott Griffin can’t believe it. “Why all the trouble for poetry?” he wondered aloud at the introduction of last night’s ceremonial readings.

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June 3, 2010
Griffin fever!
by Zoe Whittall

The 2010 Griffin Poetry Prize will be handed out at a ceremony in Toronto this evening. Verse lovers are making bets on who will take home the world’s most lucrative award for a collection of poetry in English. One prize honours a Canadian poet, and another is awarded to an international poet. This year the prize money has increased from $50,000 to $65,000 for both recipients, with each shortlisted author receiving $10,000.

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June 3, 2010
CBC Radio Metro Morning – Interview with Scott Griffin

On CBC Radio’s Metro Morning, Matt Galloway spoke with poetry lover Scott Griffin. He is the founder of the Griffin Poetry Prize.

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June 2, 2010
Griffin Poetry Prize ‘has grown a lot’ in 10 years, says chairman
by Victoria Ahearn

Ten years ago when the Griffin Poetry Prize was launched, organizers saw 120 books submitted for consideration and 130 audience members at the readings given by finalists.

For this year’s prize, judges received 400 titles, and Wednesday’s nominee reading at the 1,135-seat Koerner Hall was sold out.

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May 31, 2010
Talking to … Scott Griffin
by William Morassutti

There is something chivalrous about Scott Griffin. It’s hard to pinpoint. But he’s definitely a throwback, with the quiet intensity and easy confidence of a fighter pilot or sheriff from a black and white film. The idea of Griffin as a lead actor fits with his rich and varied career, where he’s appeared in a series of starring roles: entrepreneur, adventurer, author, publisher and philanthropist. The latter role relates primarily to the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, a foundation that he established in 2000, and whose prize money he recently doubled from $100,000 to $200,000.

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May 29, 2010
No rhyme, but reasons: Richard Greene on who should win the Griffin Poetry Prize

I carry an uncashed royalty cheque in my briefcase as a teaching prop. I hold it up for the aspiring poets in my creative writing class at the University of Toronto. They can see that in 2009 a book of poems, with its clutch of splendid reviews, and the years of work that went into it, earned me $6.29. Mothers and fathers, don’t let your babies become poets, and if they do, make sure they have day jobs.

Or friends like Scott Griffin, the philanthropist who set up the Griffin Trust, which hands out two annual awards of $75,000 for poetry in English.

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May 29, 2010
Another golden Griffin Poetry Prize haul
by Barbara Carey

It’s year 10 for the Griffin Poetry Prize and founder Scott Griffin has increased the award money and spread the wealth around. The two winners (one an international poet, one a Canadian) will each receive $65,000, up from $50,000, and the finalists will each net $10,000 for taking part in an evening of readings on Wednesday. Winners will be announced at the Griffin gala the following night.

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May 29, 2010
Luck be a Lady: Karen Solie credits her career as a poet to chance, but her fans know different
by Mark Medley

In the late 1980s, fresh out of college, Karen Solie worked as a cub reporter for the Lethbridge Herald. The job mixed the tranquility of small-town life ­ “a lot of dog shows and bake sales, as they say” ­ with more stressful assignments, like rushing to the scene of an accident or covering the courts.

“Some of it was truly heartbreaking. A lot of just terrible situations, and a lot of bad luck,” Solie recalls over coffee at Poor John’s Café, a few blocks from the Parkdale apartment in Toronto that she shares with her husband, the poet David Seymour. “I’ve always been fascinated by luck and by chance ­ cause and effect, I suppose ­ and how effects are determined by choice, but also just by luck. Good or bad. And I saw a lot of people in that job for whom it rolled either way.”

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May 28, 2010
They’re off! Who will win the Griffins?
by Paul Vermeersch

Judging a literary prize isn’t easy. Reading so many books in such a short time is a herculean task, and then there’s the heartbreaking chore of selecting a winner. All this must be doubly hard for judges of the Griffin Poetry Prize; not only do they select one book of poetry as the best in English Canada each year, they must choose another winner for the entire English-speaking world. According to the Griffin Trust, this year’s crop amounted to nearly 400 books from a dozen countries.

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May 28, 2010
Griffin Poetry Prize turns 10
Lucrative, prestigious poetry award spreads cash, influence

by Vit Wagner

In 1998, Kate Hall was an aspiring, 21-year-old poet who had the unexpected privilege of being invited to lunch by a grande dame of Canadian verse, P.K. Page. The two had met during a reading by Page at the Vancouver Public Library, an encounter that resulted in Page examining some of Hall’s early literary efforts and inviting the young prodigy to visit her in Victoria.

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May 18, 2010
The Next Chapter – Bonus podcast – The Griffin Poets 2010

For poetry fans, a package of interviews with the Canadian writers shortlisted for this year’s Griffin Prize, available for download as a podcast here.

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May 13, 2010
Karen Solie – standing at the intersection

In her latest collection of poems titled Pigeon, Karen Solie embeds herself in places where various pursuits and realities intersect. Her job as a poet, she says, is to pay attention to what is transpiring and to report the experience honestly. This methodology serves her well. What she proclaims often is the primacy of detachment and indifference in her own thinking, whether the focus of that thought happens to be politics, war, the environment or sundry other topics.

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May 1, 2010
Writing in the moment
posted by Merilyn Simonds

Kate Hall first met Canadian poet P.K. Page at a reading Page was giving at the Vancouver Public Library. Kate was just a few years out of KCVI, where her guidance counsellor had arranged a mentorship with local area poet Carolyn Smart.

She’d been writing all her life, since she insisted her Grade 1 teacher at Truedell Public School bind her stories into a book, but she was in Vancouver, still uncertain what to do with her life. After the reading, she asked Page to sign an early edition of one of her collections and in an uncharacteristic flash of bravado, said, “I’m a poet, too. I’d really like you to look at my work.”

“I’d be happy to,” Page replied, and handed Kate her phone number.

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April 10, 2010
Loose Leaves

Irish poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has made the international shortlist for the Canada-based Griffin Poetry Prize with her collection, The Sun-fish, published by The Gallery Press … The judges say the effect of Ní Chuilleanáin’s impressionistic style is like watching a photograph as it develops.

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April 9, 2010
The Griffin prize: poetry honoured

Mr. Griffin says the trust doubled the amount “to make a statement that poetry is really important.” He has certainly achieved that goal in the mind of anyone who associates money with importance. But he has also accomplished a great deal more. He has demonstrated to the rest of the world that Canada holds poetry to be as critical to its culture as more popular pursuits such as writing a hit song, and he has helped establish Canada as a mature, literate Western nation with an intact soul.

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April 9, 2010
Sneaking poetry into the office – the perfect waste of time
by Ian Brown

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Griffin Poetry Prize, Scott Griffin, its founder, announced this week that he was doubling the prize money. Seven finalists earn $10,000 each; the two winners haul in $65,000 more each. Mr. Griffin said he did it to reflect “the importance” of poetry. You don’t hear capitalists say such things very often.

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April 7, 2010
PK Page, Karen Solie and Kate Hall vie for a more lucrative Griffin
by Laura Godfrey

The poets shortlisted for the 2010 Griffin Poetry Prize are vying for an an even bigger purse than in past years.

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April 7, 2010
Twice as nice
Griffin prize doubles cash purse

by Mark Medley

To mark the 10th anniversary of the prize that bears his name, Scott Griffin wanted to make a statement. To that end, the chairman and the trustees of the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry decided to double the amount of the Griffin Poetry Prize to $200,000 from $100,000 … In a reverse from last year, where eventual international category winner C.D. Wright was the lone female poet to be nominated, women dominated this year’s shortlist six to one.

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April 6, 2010
Griffin Poetry Prize doubled
by Vit Wagner

The Griffin Poetry Prize, already one of the world’s most lucrative literary awards, will mark this year’s 10th anniversary by doubling its total payout to $200,000. Toronto poetry-loving philanthropist Scott Griffin announced the permanent increase at Wednesday’s unveiling of this year’s nominees.

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April 6, 2010
Griffin poetry prize pot boosted

The Griffin Poetry Prize, Canada’s most prestigious award for poetry, has boosted its prize pot in honour of its 10th anniversary. This year’s winners of the awards for best international and best Canadian poet will receive $75,000 each, up from $50,000. And, for the first time, every finalist will also receive a cash award, in the amount of $10,000.

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March 24, 2010
Better Than the Oscars: My 2010 Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Predictions!
by Paul Vermeersch

A few weeks ago the the world turned its attention to Hollywood to watch the 82nd annual Academy Awards, and, as is customary, most of the people watching probably made predictions about the winners in advance. Friends circulated ballots at Oscar parties. The news media and the blogosphere weighed in. Speculation ran high. All that’s old news, of course, but something far more momentous is just around the corner, and I want to bring it to your attention. The Griffin Poetry Prize will be announcing its shortlist on April 6th, and that’s far more exciting to me than any old Oscar.

See also 2009 press coverage.

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