Annal: 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize – International

Results of the Griffin Poetry Prize in the year 2012.

Book:Night (David Harsent)

Night: Poetry

David Harsent

Among the poems that open Night, David Harsent’s follow-up to his Forward Prize-winning collection “Legion”, is a startling sequence about a garden—but a garden unlike any other. It sets the tone for a book in which the sureties of daylight become uncertain: dark, unsettling narratives about what wakes in us when we escape our day-lit selves to visit a place where the dream-like and the nightmarish are never far apart. The book culminates in the seductive and brilliantly-sustained ‘Elsewhere’, a noirish, labyrinthine quest-poem in which the protagonist is drawn ever onward through a series of encounters and reflections like an after-hours Orpheus, hard-bitten and harried by memory.

Book:The Chameleon Couch

The Chameleon Couch: Poems

Yusef Komunyakaa

The latest collection from one of our preeminent poets, The Chameleon Couch is also one of Yusef Komunyakaa’s most personal to date. As in his breakthrough work, Copacetic, Komunyakaa writes again of music as muse—from a blues club in the East Village to the shakuhachi of Basho. Beginning with “Canticle,” this varied new collection often returns to the idea of poem as hymn, ethereal and haunting, as Komunyakaa reveals glimpses of memory, myth, and violence. With contemplations that spring up along walks or memories conjured by the rhythms of New York, Komunyakaa pays tribute more than ever before to those who came before him.

The book moves seamlessly across cultural and historical boundaries, evoking Komunyakaa’s capacity for cultural excavation, through artifact and place. The Chameleon Couch begins in and never fully leaves the present—an urban modernity framed,…[more]

Book:November (Sean O'Brien)

November

Sean O'Brien

Showing O’Brien at the height of his powers, with his intellect and imagination as gratifyingly restless as ever, this collection is haunted by the missing, the missed, the vanished, the uncounted, and the uncountable lost—lost sleep, connections, muses, books, and the ghosts and gardens of childhood. Ultimately, the poet is led to contemplate the most troubling absences: O’Brien’s elegies for his parents and friends form the heart of this book, and are the source of its pervasive note of départ. Elsewhere—as if a French window stood open to an English room—the islands, canals, railway stations, and undergrounds of his landscape are swept by a strikingly Gallic air. This new note lends these recent poems a reinvigorated sense of the imaginative possible.

Book:Sobbing Superpower

Sobbing Superpower: Selected Poems

Tadeusz Różewicz, Joanna Trzeciak

Widely held to be the most influential Polish poet of a generation that includes Czeslaw Milosz and Wislawa Szymborska, Tadeusz Róźewicz gives voice in the sharpest, most disturbing way to the crisis of values that has plagued our civilization. Joanna Trzeciak’s new translation displays Róźewicz’s supernatural simplicity, his stark diction and sudden turns.

finally I too came into the world
in the year 1921 and suddenly…
atchoo! time passes I am old and forgot where I put my glasses
I forgot there was
history Caesar Hitler Mata Hari…[more]
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