Canadian poet David McFadden briefly took to the stage at last night’s Griffin Poetry Prize gala to accept the $65,000 award – the richest in the world for a single book of poetry – for his latest collection, What’s the Score?, published by Toronto’s Mansfield Press.
“It’s an unexpected honour, and I’m thrilled to the bone,” he told a crowd gathered in the atrium of the Corus Entertainment building on Toronto’s waterfront.
In the international category, the Griffin was awarded to Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan for Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems (Yale University Press), translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah. Both were in attendance, despite the fact that Zaqtan had difficulty entering the country.
In a short, emotional acceptance speech, McFadden thanked his “wonderful and beloved” editor at Mansfield, Stuart Ross.
Ross, a poet in his own right, first came across McFadden’s work as a teenager. “I feel humbled that pretty much my all-time poetry hero is a guy that I now can work with and help get those books out,” he told Q&Q.
Ross was tapped to edit McFadden’s collection of selected poems, Why Are You So Sad? (Insomniac Press), which received a Griffin nomination in 2008.
“He’s not an academic, he’s not a wildly experimental poet, he’s not a classical poet. He’s a really plainspoken but profound poet,” said Ross. “It’s exciting that poetry like that can be recognized. As an editor, it’s absolutely amazing.”
Ross added that the Griffin win is “really important” for Mansfield. As he told Q&Q in April, “Although there are some ‘big’ small presses that everyone always dreams of being published by, there are small presses who are publishing work that is as worthy as anything else out there.”
A jury consisting of U.S. poet Mark Doty, Chinese-American poet and author Wang Ping, and 2011 Griffin nominee Suzanne Buffam selected the two winners from 509 books of poetry submitted from 40 countries around the globe, including 15 translations.
– With files from Stuart Woods
Correction June 17: A previous version of this article included incorrect juror names and number of submissions received in 2013.