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The Griffin Prize: what's this?
Monday, 11 Jun 2012
The winners of the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize were announced in Toronto on 7 June. David Harsent, author of Night (Faber & Faber 2011), and Ken Babstock, author of Methodist Hatchet (House of Anansi 2011), each received $65,000 CDN. The shortlist was made-up of three Canadians and four international poets in separate categories. The judges for the prize, Heather McHugh, David O’Meara, and Fiona Sampson, read a staggering ‘481 books of poetry, received from 37 countries around the globe, including 19 translations’. In spite of the variety before them, the judges managed to include among the seven three authors who have previously been finalists for the twelve-year old prize (Babstock, Harsent, and another Canadian, Phil Hall). Judge David O’Meara might have excused himself from the process when discussion around the judicial table turned to Methodist Hatchet: he is thanked in that book’s acknowledgements. In fact, a little digging reveals that O’Meara is thanked in the acknowledgements of three of Babstock’s four collections. In the fourth, Babstock’s debut,Mean (1999), O’Meara is the dedicatee. All four of the books are published by House of Anansi, which was acquired by Scott Griffin, namesake and founder of the Griffin Poetry Prize, in 2002. In what is surely a coincidence, Babstock has served as the house’s poetry editor for a number of years. A practically-minded onlooker suggested, 'The Griffin Foundation might be better served writing cheques directly to House of Anansi's marketing department.'


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