Billy-Ray Belcourt, Aisha Sasha John on Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist

Seven poets are on the shortlist for the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize — three on the Canadian list and four on the list for international poets, with each list representing a $ 65,000 prize.

The collections were chosen from 542 books of poetry from 33 countries, including 17 translations and were chosen by judges Sarah Howe (U.K.), Ben Lerner (United States) and Ian Wiliams (Canada).

Those books were whittled down to a Canadian shortlist comprised of:

The Wound is a World, by Billy-Ray Belcourt, Frontenac House (Driftpile Cree Nation, Alberta)

I have to live. Aisha Sasha John, McClelland & Stewart (Montreal)

Same Diff, Donato Mancini, Talonbooks (British Columbia)

The international list was dominated by American writers this year:

Heaven Is All Goodbyes, Tongo Eisen-Martin, CityLights Books (United States)

Debths, Susan Howe, New Directions, (United States)

Whereas, Layli Long Soldier, Graywolf Press (United States)

Hard Child, Natalie Shapero, (United States)

As they have every year, the shortlisted poets will perform at a reading the night before the awards ceremony —you can see them at Toronto’s Koerner Hall on Wed., June 6 at 7:30 pm. The finalists each receive $ 10,000 for their participation in the reading. The next night, Thurs., June 7, the winners of the two $ 65,000 prizes will be announced at a gala in Toronto.

The Griffin Trust was established in 2000 by businessman and philanthropist Scott Griffin, sparked by a conversation with Michael Ondaatje and David Young, in the hopes that “this initiative will further Canadians’ interest in poetry from around the world while at the same time help promote Canadian poetry beyond our borders.”


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