TORONTO – Tuesday, May 19, 2020 – Time by Sarah Riggs, translated from the French written by Etel Adnan (Nightboat Books) and Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough (McClelland & Stewart) are the International and Canadian winners of the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize, each receiving C$65,000 in prize money. The other shortlist finalists will be awarded $10,000 each.
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.
Sarah Riggs is the author of five books of poetry in English: Waterwork (2007), Chain of Miniscule Decisions in the Form of a Feeling (2007), 60 Textos (2010), Autobiography of Envelopes (2012), and Pomme & Granite (2015). She has translated and co-translated six books of contemporary French poetry into English, including most recently Oscarine Bosquet’s Present Participle. Sarah Riggs lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Etel Adnan was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1925. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, U.C. Berkeley, and at Harvard, and taught at Dominican College in San Rafael, California. In 2014 she was awarded one of France’s highest cultural honors: l’Ordre de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres and was a winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry, and the California Book Award for Poetry in 2013 for Sea and Fog. Her most recent books are Night (2016) and Surge (2018).
“‘I say that I’m not afraid/of dying because I haven’t/ yet had the experience/ of death’ writes Etel Adnan in the opening poem to Time. What is astonishing here is how she manages to give weariness its own relentless energy. We are pulled quickly through this collection – each poem, only a breath, a small measure of the time that Adnan is counting. Every breath is considered, measured, observant – perceiving even ‘a crack in the/ texture of the day.’ If Adnan is correct and ‘writing comes from a dialogue/ with time’ then this is a conversation the world should be leaning into, listening to a writer who has earned every right to be listened to.”
you are going up,
you take the escalator,
you don't come back
In the tentative
darkness of the
raisins there was
half of the
then the shadow
of the past
Sometimes I get ready for the
voyage of no return,
but dawn raises the curtains,
and my adolescence
is standing at the corner
Under the wonder of
From Time by Sarah Riggs, translated from the French written by Etel Adnan
Copyright © 2019 by Etel Adnan English translation © 2019 by Sarah Riggs
Kaie Kellough is a novelist, poet, and sound performer. He was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, raised in Calgary, Alberta, and in 1998 moved to Montreal, Quebec where he now lives. He is the author of the novels Dominoes at the Crossroads, and Accordéon, which was a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award, two books of poetry, Lettricity and Maple Leaf Rag, and two albums, Vox:Versus and Creole Continuum. He has performed and published internationally.
View the full Kaie Kellough page.
“Speaking to Caribbean and hemispheric migrations, the poems in Magnetic Equator recall trouble, hybridity, steep falls, continuance, and elaboration. Taking on influence, place, and racialized diasporic experience as it draws language into geographic drifts and historic collisions, these are voicings that cascade and collect ‘an accent adrift in its second language / over a b-side version of empire’. Singing of exile and scattering, the text negotiates survival and revolt as it moves with the surety and complexity of improvisation and collaboration. Sonic, visual, and intertextual, Kaie Kellough traces source and accumulation: ‘our crossings of past, we depart / opposite, along the sentence that encircles the world’.”
turning back, is this a beginning? is it preferable to be erased, to have a
voice that does not know the chorus because it sounds outside the tradition,
because it is stolen by the chinook, or to have a dream of sweating in the
malarial mud swarmed by morpho peleides, sapphire butterflies, each one the
spirit of an ancestor is it better to own a new bungalow in a
new development, or to live where your name was born, where your memory
has tongue is this the reckoning: being between, turning between a
newness of mr. clean and president's choice, and choke-and-rob in the bloody
dusk, between a full tank of gas and love in a time of bauxite strikes i have
to reckon with this far reach, this far flung, this beyond beyond the
perimeter, wandering latitudes of longing and ache, where there exists no
critical authentic, no mas, nothing but blown fragments, and a polaroid
frozen at the departure gate, timehri in 1973. i look up from my
aunt's afro. out the sedan's window: mile markers, flashing fenceposts and
barb wire slung between clouds, unconscious in their blind dreaming
From Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough
Copyright © 2019 by Kaie Kellough
The 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist features four International and three Canadian poetry collections:
How to Dress a Fish • Abigail Chabitnoy
Wesleyan University Press
Arias • Sharon Olds
Jonathan Cape & Alfred A. Knopf
Lima :: Limón • Natalie Scenters-Zapico
Copper Canyon Press
How She Read • Chantal Gibson
heft • Doyali Islam
McClelland & Stewart
Magnetic Equator • Kaie Kellough
McClelland & Stewart
The judges for the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize are Paula Meehan (Ireland), Kei Miller (Jamaica/UK) and Hoa Nguyen (Canada). These distinguished writers and poets each read 572 books of poetry, received from fourteen countries around the globe, including translations from eighteen different languages. The trustees of The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry select the judges annually.
Learn more about the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize judges here.
Please direct other inquiries as follows:
Telephone: (647) 389-9510
Ruth Smith, Executive Director
Telephone: (905) 618-0420