Liz Howard among Canadian contenders for $65K Griffin Poetry Prize
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Northern Ontario-raised writer Liz Howard is angling to win her second $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize.
The 2016 Griffin winner is among the three Canadian finalists for the prestigious literary prize, which also announced the four titles on the short list for the international honour. The Griffin will award two winners $65,000 each at an online ceremony on June 15.
Howard, who is of mixed European and Anishinaabe descent, is nominated for “Letters in a Bruised Cosmos,” from McClelland & Stewart, which invokes Western and Indigenous astrophysics to chart her family history.
The title is a followup to her Griffin-winning first book of poetry, “Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent.” Her competitors hope to pull off the same feat this year with their debut collections.
Montreal’s David Bradford received a nod for his interdisciplinary inquiry into intergenerational trauma, “Dream of No One But Myself,” published by Brick Books.
Vancouver-based Tolu Oloruntoba is in the running for “The Junta of Happenstance,” from Anstruther Books, which draws from his time as a physician to dissect disease.
The international finalists include Ali Kinsella and Dzvinia Orlowsky’s translation of “Eccentric Days of Hope and Sorrow” by the Ukrainian poet Natalka Bilotserkivets. The volume, published by Lost Horse Press, compiles a selection of the Kyiv-based writer’s lyrical poetry spanning her homeland’s history from early post-Soviet independence, through the Chernobyl disaster, and looking toward the present day.
Also in the running is St. Paul, Minn.-based wordsmith Douglas Kearney’s “Sho,” from Wave Books, which was a 2021 finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry.
Chicago writer Ed Roberson is nominated for “Asked What Has Changed,” from Wesleyan University Press, which confronts the colliding crises of social inequality and environmental degradation.
Rounding out the short list announced Wednesday is “Late to the House of Words,” Sharon Dolin’s translation of the Catalan work by Gemma Gorga of Barcelona, published by Saturnalia Books.
The finalists were selected from 639 books of poetry submitted by 236 publishers from 16 different countries, prize organizers say. This year’s jury consists of Canadian writer Adam Dickinson, Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort and American poet and playwright Claudia Rankine.
The Griffin is billed as one of the world’s richest poetry prizes, annually awarding $65,000 apiece to one Canadian and one international winner.
If a translated work wins, the 60 per cent of the prize money goes to the translator, and the remaining 40 per cent is given to the original writer.
Each finalist receives $10,000.
The Griffin Trust was founded in 2000 by chairman Scott Griffin, along with trustees Margaret Atwood, Robert Hass, Michael Ondaatje, Robin Robertson and David Young.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2022.