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Commedia del Arte

Eyewear was sent this press release last night. Congratulations to the winners.

It's good to see so many hungry poets dining so well...

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TORONTO – June 6, 2007 – Charles Wright’s (pictured) Scar Tissue and Don McKay’s Strike/Slip are the International and Canadian winners of the seventh annual Griffin Poetry Prize. The C$100,000 Griffin Poetry Prize, the richest poetry prize in the world for a single volume of poetry, is divided between the two winners. The prize is for first edition books of poetry published in 2006, and submitted from anywhere in the world.

The awards event was hosted by Scott Griffin, founder of the prize. Renowned poet Matthew Rohrer was the featured speaker. Judge Karen Solie announced the International winner and John Burnside announced the Canadian winner of the 2007 Griffin Poetry Prize.

Hundreds of guests celebrated the awards, including Canada’s former Governor General, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson; The Honourable Caroline di Cocco, Minister of Culture; renowned Canadian authors Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje; and internationally acclaimed British poet Robin Robertson, author of Swithering, winner of the 2006 Forward Poetry Prize for Best Poetry Collection of the Year; and poets Carolyn Forché and Robert Hass, former US Poet Laureate.

The theme of the gala event, held at Toronto’s Stone Distillery, was Commedia del Arte, evoking the colours, décor and ambiance of a romantic Tuscan street fair. In keeping with the theme, guests dined on bocconcini and tomato salad with balsamic vinaigrette reduction, provimi veal tenderloin with fig and apricot sauce, assorted vegetables, and a wide variety of exotic desserts.

The judges for the 2007 prize are the distinguished poets John Burnside (Dunfermline, Scotland), Charles Simic (New Hampshire, USA) and Karen Solie (Toronto, Canada). They each read an astonishing 483 eligible works of poetry, including 18 translations, written by poets from 35 countries from around the world. The judges also selected poems from the shortlist to compile The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology: A Selection of the 2007 Shortlist, edited by Karen Solie and published by House of Anansi Press. Royalties generated from the anthologies, published annually, are donated to UNESCO’s World Poetry Day. As in past years, copies of the submitted poetry books are being donated to Corrections Canada.

All shortlisted poets read excerpts from their books at a sold-out event for more than 800 people at the MacMillan Theatre on June 5th. That night, the legendary poet Tomas Tranströmer (Stockholm, Sweden) was honoured with The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry’s Lifetime Recognition Award. Trustee Robert Hass paid tribute to Tranströmer and Scott Griffin presented him with his award. This is the second year that the Griffin Poetry Prize has endowed a Lifetime Recognition Award. Last year’s honours went to Robin Blaser.

The 2007 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist is comprised of books by three Canadian poets - Ken Babstock's Airstream Land Yacht, published by House of Anansi Press; Don McKay's Strike/Slip, published by McClelland & Stewart; and Priscila Uppal's Ontological Necessities, published by Exile Editions; and four international poets - Paul Farley's Tramp in Flames, published by Picador; Rodney Jones' Salvation Blues, published by Houghton Mifflin; Frederick Seidel's Ooga-Booga, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Charles Wright's Scar Tissue, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The judges are selected on an annual basis by the Griffin Poetry Prize Trustees, Margaret Atwood, Carolyn Forché, Robert Hass, Michael Ondaatje, Robin Robertson and David Young.

The Griffin Trust was created in 2000 to serve and encourage excellence in poetry written in or translated into English anywhere in the world.
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