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Griffin shortlist features newcomers Pollock, Williams

In a year that boasted collections from A.F. Moritz, Don McKay, and Roo Borson, the jury for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize (which covers books published in 2012) has opted to put the spotlight on several lesser-known poets.

The most renowned poet among the Canadian nominees is David W. McFadden, the veteran author of 35 books, who received the nod for What’s the Score? (published by Mansfield Press imprint Stuart Ross Books). McFadden was previously nominated for the prize in 2008 for his selected poems, Why Are You So Sad?

The other Canadian nominees are newcomers James Pollock and Ian Williams. Pollock, who lives in Madison, Wisconsin, was nominated for his first full-length collection, Sailing to Babylon (Able Muse Press), which riffs on historical figures such as Henry Hudson, David Thompson, Glenn Gould, and Northrop Frye. (Pollock is also the author of a volume of criticism, You Are Here: Essays on the Art of Poetry in Canada, from The Porcupine’s Quill.)

Toronto-based Williams was shortlisted for Personals (Freehand Books), a follow-up to his debut collection You Know Who You Are (Wolsak and Wynn) and the short-story collection Not Anyone’s Anything (Freehand). According to the press material, the collection is a series of “almost-love poems” written in a variety of traditional poetic forms as well as forms of the poet’s own invention.

The jury, composed of poets Suzanne Buffam, Mark Doty, and Wang Ping, also selected four international nominees:

  • Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems by Ghassan Zaqtan, translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah (Yale University Press)
  • Liquid Nitrogen by Jennifer Maiden (Giramondo Publishing)
  • Night of the Republic by Alan Shapiro (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy (Copper Canyon Press)

A Canadian and international winner, each receiving $65,000, will be announced June 13. The seven finalists will read from their works at Toronto’s Koerner Hall on June 12.