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.
The League of Canadian Poets revealed the winners for its three annual awards June 8 at the LCP Poetry Festival and Conference in Toronto.
The Pat Lowther Memorial Award is given for a book of poetry by a Canadian woman published in the preceding year. The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award recognizes the best first book of poetry published by a Canadian in the preceding year. The Raymond Souster Award is given for a book of poetry by an LCP member published in the preceding year. Each award carries a $1,000 prize.
Pat Lowther Memorial Award
Song and Spectacle, Rachel Rose (Harbour Publishing)
Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Notebook M, Gillian Savigny (Insomniac Press)
Raymond Souster Award
The New Measures, A.F. Moritz (House of Anansi Press)
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Basil Papademos won the Bisexual Erotic Fiction award for his novel Mount Royal (Tightrope Books) at the Bisexual Book Awards in New York City on June 2. According to the website examiner.com, while on his way home to Montreal, Papademos was stopped by border patrol, detained, searched, and interrogated.
“I’d thrown it [the award] on top of my stuff before closing my bag and heading for Montreal. When the border cops opened my bag they pulled out the trophy and I swear to goddess, the guy sneered and said: ‘I didn’t know they give awards out for being bisexual.’
I, of course, could not resist replying: ‘Only if you’re really good.’
It went downhill from there. I was detained in a holding cell for over eight hours where I was interrogated. They seized my phone and computer, claiming my work could ‘possibly be considered obscene according to Canadian law.’”
Papademos told the Examiner he suspects he might have been stopped because he used to live in Bangkok and authorities may have assumed he had been there for the purposes of child pornography.
Papademos has not filed a complaint, worrying he will be stopped every time he crosses the border.
The Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia has announced the shortlists for the WFNS Literary Awards. The awards celebrate and promote excellence in writing from Canada’s Atlantic region. Jurors picked the nine finalists from 68 submissions for the three awards.
Winners will be announced at a ceremony in Halifax on Sept. 21.
The nominees are:
The Atlantic Poetry Prize
- I’m Alive. I Believe in Everything, Lesley Choyce (Breton Books)
- Church of the Exquisite Panic: The Ophelia Poems, Carole Glasser Langille (Pedlar Press)
- Whiteout, George Murray (ECW Press)
The Evelyn Richardson Memorial Non-fiction Award
- Shadowboxing, Steven Laffoley (Pottersfield Press)
- The Discovery of Weather, Jerry Lockett (Formac Lorimer Books)
- Cape Breton Railways: An Illustrated History, Herb MacDonald (Cape Breton University Press)
The Thomas Head Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award
In the June issue, Q&Q looks ahead at fall’s most anticipated books for young readers.
Click on the thumbnails to see highlights of children’s fiction, non-fiction, and picture books.