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Friends On The GG List!

I am very pleased to note that several very fine Canadian poets were today shortlisted for Canada's major national poetry prize - and that they are all, oddly, and for the first time on such a list, friends of mine.  Gosh, I want them all to win!

The Canada Council for the Arts announces the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Award finalists

 October 2, 2012 | News Release
Get ready to read the 2012 Governor General’s Literary Awards finalists.  The Canada Council’s peer assessment committees selected this year’s finalists out of approximately 1,700 submitted books, choosing works that tell readers compelling stories about themselves and the world around them.
“Literary excellence is what drives the Governor General’s Literary Awards,” said Robert Sirman, Director and CEO of the Canada Council for the Arts. “This year’s shortlisted books put the creative talent of our authors, translators and illustrators front and centre.  They inspire readers to discover new places and live memorable experiences through books.”
  • Julie Bruck, San Francisco, CA (originally from MontrĂ©al), Monkey Ranch (Brick Books; distributed by LitDistCo) (ISBN 978-1-926829-74-6)
  • David McGimpsey, MontrĂ©al, Li’l Bastard(Coach House Books; distributed by LitDistCo) (ISBN 978-1-55245-248-6)
  • A. F. Moritz, Toronto, The New Measures(House of Anansi Press; distributed by HarperCollins Canada) (ISBN 978-1-77089-110-4)
  • Lisa Pasold, Toronto, Any Bright Horse(Frontenac House; distributed by Alpine Book Peddlers) (ISBN 978-1-897181-55-3)
  • James Pollock, Madison, WI (originally from Southern Ontario), Sailing to Babylon
  • (Able Muse Press; distributed by Ingram Book Company) (ISBN 978-0-9865338-7-7)


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With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.