An emotional Ken Babstock won the Canadian portion of this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize at a gala in Toronto Thursday night.
Babstock won the $65,000 prize for his fourth collection, Methodist Hatchet (House of Anansi Press). In accepting the award, the world’s richest for a poetry collection, Babstock thanked his wife and son, his editor Karen Solie (winner of the 2010 Griffin for Pigeon, also published by Anansi), and poetry readers across Canada.
Known as a poet’s poet, Babstock is a former member of Anansi’s poetry board.
Q&Q reviewer Shane Neilsen described Methodist Hatchet as “affecting and deft” and said it will likely “prove to be [Babstock’s] lasting contribution to Canadian poetry.” Neilsen also expressed bafflement with some of the poems in the book, saying that Babstock is “so brilliant, so new, and developing so fast, he’s no longer intelligible to the rest of us.”
The winner of the international Griffin Poetry Prize, also presented on Thursday, was U.K. poet David Harsent for his collection Night (Faber and Faber). Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, awarded a lifetime achievement on Wednesday, was also on hand at the ceremony and read from his body of work.
This year’s Griffin jury comprised poets Heather McHugh, David O’Meara, and Fiona Sampson.