Christian Bök’s Eunoia and Alice Notley’s Disobedience Win the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize

TORONTO, May 30, 2002 – The Canadian and International winners of the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize are Christian Bök’s Eunoia, and Alice Notley’s Disobedience, it was announced tonight at the second annual awards event. The C$80,000 award, the most generous international poetry prize, is divided between the two winners. This year’s prize is for first edition books of poetry published in 2001.

International Winner Canadian Winner
Alice Notley
Penguin Putnam Inc., Penguin Books Ltd., Penguin Books Australia Ltd., Penguin Books Canada Ltd., and Penguin Books (NZ) Ltd.
Christian Bök
Coach House Books

The evening before, the seven shortlisted poets gave a reading at a sold-out Special Harbourfront Reading Series Event. In addition to Eunoia and Disobedience, the Canadian shortlist runners-up are Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person by Eirin Moure, and Short Haul Engine by Karen Solie. On the International shortlist are Maraca New and Selected Poems 1965-2000 by Victor Hernández Cruz, Homer: War Music by Christopher Logue, and Conscious and Verbal by Les Murray, his second year on the Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist.

The Griffin Trust was created to serve and encourage excellence in poetry written in English anywhere in the world. Eligible collections of poetry, which includes translations, must be submitted by publishers in the calendar year of their publication.

Citations and Biographies

Book: Eunoia
Poet: Christian Bök
Publishers: Coach House Books

Citation: Christian Bök has made an immensely attractive work from those “corridors of the breath we call vowels, giving each in turn its dignity and manifest, making all move to the order of his own recognition and narrative. Both he and they are led to delightfully, unexpected conclusions as though the world really were what we made of it. As we are told at the outset, “Eunoia, which means ‘beautiful thinking’, is the shortest English word to contain all five vowels.” Here each speaks with persistent, unequivocal voice, all puns indeed intended.

Christian Bök’s Eunoia is a phenomenal success story by Canadian standards. Since its publication in 2001, it’s had nine reprints and 8,000 copies. He is the author of the acclaimed Crystallography (Coach House Press, 1994), a pataphysical encyclopedia nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award for Best Poetic Debut. Pataphysics: The Poetics of an Imaginary Science is forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. Bök’s conceptual artwork has appeared at the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York City as part of the Poetry Plastique exhibit. He has also created artificial languages for the TV shows, Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict and Peter Benchley’s Amazon. Bök has also earned many accolades for his virtuoso performances of sound poetry (particularly the Ursonate by Kurt Schwitters).

Book: Disobedience
Poet: Alice Notley
Publisher: Penguin Putnam Inc. (U.S.), Penguin Books Ltd. (U.K.), Penguin Books Australia Ltd., Penguin Books Canada Ltd., and Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd.

Citation: Disobedience stands in ambush at the virtual co-ordinates of our ‘post-modern’ inferno. Against ‘decorous poetry’, Alice Notley’s verse has a caustic swish, the intimacy of a vivisectionist on the contemporary body politic. In an unsentimental interrogation of the will, the soul and the common being the long poem ‘disses’ the orthodoxies of political power, sex, and philosophy. Disobedience does what only the best poetry can do in times like these, surprise, denounce, dissent.

Alice Notley is the author of more than 20 books of poetry including The Descent of Alette (1996) and Mysteries of Small Houses (Penguin, 1998). She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry. In the spring of 2001 she received an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Poetry Society of America’s Shelly Memorial Award. She edited and wrote a new introduction to her late husband Ted Berrigan’s The Sonnets (Penguin, 2000). Born in Bisbee, Arizona, Notley grew up in Needles, California. After leading a peripatetic life during the late 60s and early 70s, she settled in New York, where, for 16 years, she was an important force in the eclectic second generation of the so-called New York school of poetry. She currently lives in Paris, France.

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For further information, contact:

Prudence Emery
Telephone: (905) 565-5993

Shortlist summary and bios

Download press release | Download citations | Download photos

Purchase 2002 Griffin Prize Anthology and shortlist books online

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