Griffin Poetry Prize short lists announced

TORONTO — Explorations of racism and grief are among the literary works from Canadian poets contending for the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize.

On Tuesday, the Griffin Trust For Excellence announced the short lists of poets vying for its lucrative literary awards.

The prize awards $65,000 apiece to one Canadian and one international winner, and is billed as the largest prize for a first edition single collection of poetry written in English.

Among the Canadian contenders is Nisga’a poet Jordan Abel’s third collection ”Injun” (Talonbooks), which is described as a long poem about racism and the representation of indigenous peoples. The Vancouver-based Abel is currently completing his PhD at Simon Fraser University with studies focused on digital humanities and indigenous poetics.

Saskatchewan-raised, Ottawa-based poet Sandra Ridley was recognized for “Silvija” (BookThug), which examines themes related to love and loss.

Rounding out the Canadian short list is “Violet Energy Ingots” by Toronto-based Hoa Nguyen (Wave Books). Born in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and raised in the Washington, D.C., area., Nguyen is a permanent Canadian resident who teaches at Ryerson University.

The international short list includes:

— American writer Jane Mead for ”World of Made and Unmade” (Alice James Books)

— “In Praise of Defeat” (Archipelago Books) by Moroccan poet Abdellatif Laabi, translated from French by Donald Nicholson-Smith

— British poet Alice Oswald for “Falling Awake” (Jonathan Cape/W.W. Norton & Company)

— British poet and philosopher Denise Riley for “Say Something Back” (Picador)

Judges Sue Goyette, Joan Naviyuk Kane and George Szirtes each read 617 books of poetry from 39 countries, including 23 translations.

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 year’s seven finalists will each be awarded $10,000 for their participation in the short list readings in Toronto on June 7.

The winners will be announced at a gala in Toronto on June 8.

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