Monday, June 12, 2017

The Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Reading - 2017



Telus Center for the Performing Arts, Koerner Hall, Toronto

Koerner Hall in Toronto has been the venue for the Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist Reading in June 2017, as it has been the case in previous years.




            Canadian winner Jordan Abel (center) and International winner Alice Oswald (left)  arriving at the event.

For those interested to learn more about this prize,  here is the link to  -> The Griffin Poetry Prize website which contains a wealth of information.  




It indicates that The Griffin Poetry Prize is the world’s largest prize for a first edition single collection of poetry written in English.

Ushered in with trumpet sounds, heralds of a much aniticipated poetry gathering, the audience streamed in for a quick pause in the hallways, whose glass walls project outward into a verdoyant evening universe.




A glass of wine or champagne in hand, wandering off into the small balcony while quickly reading through this year's Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology - a fitting introduction to the readings. 



I was part of a cohort of spectators that received a free copy of 2017 The Griffin Poetry Prize anthology - and I would like to say 'Thank You" to the organizers for it.
(My copy has grown dog-ears and it will continue to do so.)




The first part of the readings was dedicated to the four international finalists:

Jane Mead
Donald Nicholson - Smith for the translation (from French) of the poetry of Abdellatif La├óbi 
Alice Oswald 
Denise Riley

After the intermission poet Frank Bidart was The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry’s Lifetime Recognition Award. 

Then it was the turn of the three Canadian finalists to showcase their poems:

Jordan Abel
Hoa Nguyen
Sandra Riley

It was an animated evening, with a keen audience that  reacted to words and lines in the poems and to the overall dramatic effect of the performance. 

Here are a few lines from Injun, a book of poetry by the Canadian winner, Jordan Abel:

"he played injun in gods country
where boys proved themselves clean
...
he played english across the trails
where girls turned plum wild

garlic and strained words 
through the window of the night. "

- From Injun by Jordan Abel.

And here is a quote from Alice Oswald's book Falling Awake - the winner in the International category:

"This is the day the flies fall awake mid-sentence 
and lie stunned on the window-sill shaking with speeches
only it isn't speech it is trembling sections of puzzlement which 
break off suddenly as if the questioner had been shot 

this is one of those wordy days."

- From Flies by Alice Oswald. 

Somehow, after the reading,  it did not feel right to go straight home. 

Instead, I followed other fellow spectators,  walking east on Bloor St.  going gently into that good night. 




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