Annal: 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize – Canadian

Results of the Griffin Poetry Prize in the year 2012.

Book:Methodist Hatchet

Methodist Hatchet: Poems

Ken Babstock

Marooned in the shiftless, unnamed space between a map of the world and a world of false maps, Ken Babstock’s poems cling to what’s necessary from each, while attempting to sing their own bewilderment. Methodist Hatchet sets the currencies of living, thinking, and writing on a level plain. The symbolic currencies of natural and engineered worlds — the monetary, cultural, intellectual, and experiential — mimic, dog, and evade each other in a brilliant play of contingency and consequence. Even the poem itself — the idea of a poem — as a unit of understanding is shadowed by a great unknowing. Fearless in its language, its trajectories, and its frames of reference, Babstock’s fourth collection gazes upon the objects of its attention until they rattle, and exude their auras of strangeness. It is this strangeness, this mysterious stillness, that is the heart of Babstock’s playful, fierce, intelligent book. Methodist Hatchet is an exhilarating new work from one of our most celebrated poets.

Book:Forge (Jan Zwicky)

Forge

Jan Zwicky

This new collection from Jan Zwicky is a set of variations that employs a restricted, echoic vocabulary to explore themes of spiritual catastrophe, transformation and erotic love. Zwicky is a philosopher, musician and award-winning poet who lives on Quadra Island, British Columbia.

Book:Killdeer (Phil Hall)

Killdeer

Phil Hall

These are poems of critical thought that have been influenced by old fiddle tunes. These are essays that are not out to persuade so much as ruminate, invite, accrue. Hall is a surruralist (rural and surreal), and a terroir-ist (township-specific regionalist). He offers memories of, and homages to—Margaret Laurence, Bronwen Wallace, Libby Scheier, and Daniel Jones, among others. He writes of the embarrassing process of becoming a poet, and of his push-pull relationship with the whole concept of home. His notorious 2004 chapbook essay “The Bad Sequence” is also included here, for a wider readership, at last. It has been revised. (Its teeth have been sharpened.) In this book, the line is the unit of composition; the reading is wide; the perspective personal: each take a give, and logic a drawback. In Fred Wah’s phrase, what is offered here is “the music at the heart of thinking.”

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