Griffin Poetry Prize merges, and expands, annual awards

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NEW YORK (AP) — One of the world’s most generous poetry awards is both consolidating and expanding.

Officials of Canada’s Griffin Poetry Prize announced Thursday that they are combining their international and Canadian honors into a single award, worth $100,000. The prize’s founder, the businessman and philanthropist Scott Griffin, said the awards were originally in separate categories because he believed Canadian poets needed the attention.

“Now that a lot of Canadians have been recognized in the poetry world, we felt it was time they had to compete on the international stage with everybody else,” he said, citing such Canadian writers as Margaret Atwood, Anne Carson and Robert Bringhurst.

Griffin officials have also created a new prize for first-time Canadian poets that includes a six-week residency in Italy.

“The Griffin Poetry Prize has been acknowledging and encouraging poets for 22 years,” Atwood, a founding Griffin trustee, said in a statement. “At a time when censorship and attacks on a diverse array of writers are on the rise in many countries — including the United States — it’s heartening to see such a strong vote of confidence in poets coming from Canada. Poetry is not a minor art form; it is the crucible of human language.”

Previous Griffin winners include Carson, Charles Simic and John Ashbery.

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