Anne Carson’s Men in the Off Hours and Paul Celan’s Glottal Stop: 101 Poems by Paul Celan Win the $80,000 Griffin Poetry Prize Award

Toronto, June 7, 2001 – The Canadian and International winners of the first Griffin Poetry Prize are Anne Carson’s Men in the Off Hours, which won the Canadian prize, and Paul Celan’s Glottal Stop: 101 Poems by Paul Celan, translated by Heather McHugh and Nikolai Popov, which won the International prize, it was announced tonight at the inaugural awards ceremony.

International Winner Canadian Winner
popov-mchugh-pic-book carson-pic-book
Glottal Stop: 101 Poems by Paul Celan
Nikolai Popov & Heather McHugh translating Paul Celan
Wesleyan/University Press of New England
Men in the Off Hours
Anne Carson
Vintage Canada, Jonathan Cape (UK), Alfred A. Knopf (USA), Cape/Random House (Australia)

The winners receive $40,000 each. The prize money for Paul Celan’s book of poetry will be divided between the translators, Heather McHugh and Nikolai Popov, who will receive 60% of the total, with 40% going to Celan’s estate.

Scott Griffin, founder of the prize, says, “Both Men in the Off Hours and Glottal Stop: 101 Poems by Paul Celan are world-class books of poetry, superb choices for the first year’s Griffin Poetry Prize.”

This year’s judges are the eminent American poet Carolyn Forché, Toronto’s poet laureate Dennis Lee, and Paul Muldoon, Professor in Creative Writing and The Humanities, at Princeton University and honorary Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. The awards are for books of poetry published in 2000.

Collectively, the judges declared, “Anne Carson continues to redefine what a book of poetry can be; this ambitious collection ranges from quatrains studded with uncanny images (‘Here lies the refugee breather/who drank a bowl of elsewhere’) to musing verse essays, personal laments, rigorous classical scholarship, and meditations on artists’ lives, caught in the carnage of history. All are burnished by Carson’s dialectical imagination, and her quizzical, stricken moral sense.”

Men in the Off Hours is published by Vintage Canada in Canada, Jonathan Cape in the United Kingdom, Alfred A. Knopf in the United States and Cape/Random House in Australia.

Glottal Stop: 101 Poems by Paul Celan is published by Wesleyan/University Press of New England.

The judges commented, “Paul Celan is arguably the most important European poet of the twentieth century, but much of his work has seemed too hermetic, linguistically complex, and bound to his struggle with the German language in the aftermath of the Shoah to be translatable. In Glottal Stop, however, Heather McHugh and Nikolai Popov have achieved the seemingly impossible: more than translating Celan into English, they have found a way to translate English into Celan.”

In addition to the Griffin Poetry Prize Trustees Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, David Young and Robin Robertson, the informal celebration was attended by the literati glitterati: poets, poetry publishers, video directors and the literary media. Approximately 300 invited guests dined on oysters, beef tenderloin and Swiss chocolate and danced until after midnight.

The $80,000 Griffin Poetry Prize includes two literary awards for excellence in English poetry, divided between a living Canadian poet/translator and a living poet/translator from anywhere in the world. The prizes are awarded annually for collections of poetry published in English during the preceding year. The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry was founded in September, 2000.

Winners’ Biographies:

Anne Carson lives in Montreal, where she is Director of Graduate Studies, Classics, at McGill University. Her first book published in Britain, Glass and God, was shortlisted for the 1998 Forward Prize; her second, Autobiography of Red was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the T.S. Eliot Prize. She has been the recipient of the 1996 Lannan Award, a 1997 Pushcart Prize, a 1998 Guggenheim Fellowship and, most recently, the MacArthur Foundation ‘Genius’ Award.

Heather McHugh is Milliman Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington. In addition to six acclaimed books of poetry, including most recently, The Father of the Predicaments, and the collection of essays Broken English: Poetry and Partiality, she has translated poems by Jean Follain and Euripides’ Cyclops.

Nikolai Popov teaches English and Comparative Literature at the University of Washington in Seattle. A James Joyce scholar and translator, he co-translated with Heather McHugh a collection of the poems of Blaga Dimitrova.

Paul Celan (1920-1970) is widely regarded as Europe’s greatest post-war poet. Born in Romania, Celan was an eastern European Holocaust survivor, who settled in Paris after the war where he remained, until his death. Celan, who spoke at least six languages, worked as a translator of French, Russian and English literature, but wrote his poetry solely in German. Among his major poems is Death Fugue that evokes the horrors of the Holocaust.

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Note to Booksellers: The Griffin Trust supplies, free of charge, The Griffin Poetry Prize 2001 Shortlist and Winner stickers, shelf talkers, and postcards. Click here to go to our online order form.

For more information, please contact:

Prudence Emery, Publicity Director
The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry
6610 Edwards Boulevard
Mississauga, ON L5T 2V6
Telephone: (905) 565 5993

Ruth Smith, Manager
The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry
6610 Edwards Boulevard
Mississauga, ON L5T 2V6
Telephone: (905) 565 5993

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