Annal: 2001 Griffin Poetry Prize – Canadian

Results of the Griffin Poetry Prize in the year 2001.

Book:Men in the Off Hours

Men in the Off Hours

Anne Carson

Following her widely acclaimed Autobiography of Red (“A spellbinding achievement” —Susan Sontag), a new collection of poetry and prose that displays Anne Carson’s signature mixture of opposites—the classic and the modern, cinema and print, narrative and verse.

In Men in the Off Hours, Carson reinvents figures as diverse as Oedipus, Emily Dickinson, and Audubon. She views the writings of Sappho, St. Augustine, and Catullus through a modern lens. She sets up startling juxtapositions (Lazarus among video paraphernalia; Virginia Woolf and Thucydides discussing war). And in a final prose poem, she meditates on the recent death of her mother.

With its quiet, acute spirituality, its fearless wit and sensuality, and its joyful understanding that “the fact of the matter for humans is imperfection,” Men in the Off Hours shows us “the most exciting poet writing in English today” (Michael Ondaatje) at her best.

Book:Another Gravity

Another Gravity: Poems

Don McKay

This book, Don McKay’s ninth collection, practises “the dark art of reflection”—which, as one of the poems tells us, whether boldly or capriciously, could not have existed without the moon—as it moves ever more deeply into ideas of home.

Book:Nine Visits to the Mythworld

Nine Visits to the Mythworld

Robert Bringhurst, Gandl of the Qayahl Llaanas

The nine stories contained in this volume are the finest offerings from one of the last of the traditional Haida storytellers, Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas. Ghandl was born in 1851 in a small Haida island community off the coast of British Columbia. His world was devastated by waves of European diseases, which wiped out over ninety percent of the Haidas and robbed him of his sight. He became a skilled listener, taking in the myths, legends, and everyday stories of his people. Creatively adapting them, the blind storyteller became a master of his craft. In 1900 John Swanton, with the help of a translator, transcribed a number of Ghandl’s narrative poems.

Nearly all of the poems in this volume are qqaygaang, narrative poems set in the Haida mythtime of long ago. One story, “The Names of Their Gambling Sticks,” is a qqayaagaang, a story that juxtaposes mythtime and historical time and…[more]

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