Nisga’a writer and editor Jordan Abel has won the $65,000 Griffin Poetry Prize for his third collection, Injun (Talonbooks), which examines issues of racism, cultural appropriation, colonialism, and the representation of Indigenous peoples. The award was presented at a gala reception in Toronto on June 8.
“I think this is a win for all the people who have fought and continue to fight against appropriation, and for those who continue to fight and resist the architectures of colonialism,” Abel said to loud applause during his acceptance speech.
The jury – Sue Goyette (Canada), Joan Naviyuk Kane (U.S.), and George Szirtes (U.K.) – read 617 books of poetry from 39 countries, including 23 works of translation. The other two Canadian finalists also hailed from small independent publishers: Hoa Nguyen for Violet Energy Ingots (Wave Books) and Sandra Ridley for Silvija (BookThug).
In the international category, Alice Oswald won for Falling Awake (Jonathan Cape/W.W. Norton). The other international finalists were Jane Mead for World of Made and Unmade (Alice James Books/Publishers Group Canada); Abdellatif Laâbi for In Praise of Defeat, translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith (Archipelago Books/PRHC); and Denise Riley for Say Something Back (Picador/Raincoast Books).