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Friday, 6 June 2008

Ashbery In Canada

The Canadian Griffin Prize for poetry has recently been awarded to two very deserving poets: Robin Blaser won the Canadian prize, and the international prize (both for best book of the year in their respective categories) went to John Ashbery. Both poets are (wonderfully) octogenarians, inspiration to all poets of all ages. Ashbery noted that he'd listened happily to CBC radio as a boy (as did I) which was a lovely aside. It is a measure of the insularity of Britain's main gate-keepers of poetry that Blaser is little known in the UK, if at all, except by a few, and Ashbery continues to be something of a guilty pleasure. Just last year, for instance, the TS Eliot panel passed up the opportunity to shortlist his latest Carcanet collection (the same panel failed to award genius Edwin Morgan the top prize). Well, Ashbery's one of the two or three finest living poets, whose music is hard to shake once heard. Glad Canada's on the ball.
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