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Munro and Longley take home 2015 Griffins

Jane Munro, Scott Griffin, and Michael Longley. (photo: Tom Sandler)

Jane Munro, Scott Griffin, and Michael Longley. (photo: Tom Sandler)

Jane Munro is the winner of the 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize for her most recent collection, Blue Sonoma.

Munro, who has been publishing poetry in Canada since the 1980s, says the win “gives me a great big boost of hope. I feel enormously encouraged. Every poet, every writer, really needs to feel that someone is going to read the work and that it matters, and they’re not just talking to themselves.”

Blue Sonoma focuses on the struggle Munro’s long-time partner has faced with Alzheimer’s. “Poems have to be transitive,” Munro says. “I think of poetry as architecture for the imagination. When someone else can receive a poem and move into that space and furnish it with her or his own memories, imagery and feelings, then that poem has another life. It’s great to feel – thanks to the Griffin – that the poems will be out there and more people will find them.”

The prize is also a win for Munro’s publisher, Brick Books, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2015. Blue Sonoma is Brick’s first Griffin-winning book since 2003, and Munro says she is pleased to share the honour “at just the right time to add to their celebrations.”

Irish poet Michael Longley took home the international prize for The Stairwell (Jonathan Cape), adding to his list of accolades, which includes the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whitbread Poetry Award, and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

Each winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize receives $65,000, the world’s most generous poetry award. An additional $10,000 is presented to each poet on the prize’s shortlist, which in the Canadian category included Shane Book, for his collection Congotronic, and Russell Thornton, for The Hundred Lives. Joining Longley on the international shortlist were Spencer Reece for the collection The Road to Emmaus, Marek Kazmierski for his translation of Polish poet Wioletta Greg’s Finite Formulae & Theories of Chance, and Eleanor Goodman for her translation of Chinese poet Wang Xiaoni’s Something Crosses My Mind.

St. Lucian poet Derek Walcott was honoured with the Griffin Trust’s Lifetime Recognition Award.

The 2015 Griffin Poetry Prize winners were announced at a gala held in Toronto’s Distillery District on June 4. This year marked the award’s 15th anniversary.