Skip to content

Judges are selected annually by the Griffin Trustees and the prizes are awarded in the spring of each year. Judges may not be on salary at a publishing house that issues contemporary poetry. 

From the hundreds of books submitted, the judges compile a shortlist of seven outstanding books of poetry: four international, and three Canadian. From the shortlist, the judges select the final winners in these two categories. Shortlisted Canadian books are eligible for both prizes.

The judges have absolute discretion in interpreting the rules, and their decision is final.

Here are the judges who have awarded the Griffin Poetry Prize each year, since its inception.  Click on the year to view full biographies for that year’s judges. 


2022 Judges

Adam Dickinson

Adam Dickinson was born in Bracebridge, Ontario, Canada. He is the author of four books of poetry, including Anatomic (2018), a finalist for the Raymond Souster Award and winner of the Alanna Bondar Memorial Book Prize from the Association for Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada. His work has been nominated for the … Read More

Valzhyna Mort

Valzhyna Mort is a poet and translator born in Minsk, Belarus. She is the author of three poetry collections, Factory of Tears (2008), Collected Body (2011) and, most recently, Music for the Dead and Resurrected (2020), named one of the best poetry books of 2020 by The New York Times, and the winner of the International Griffin Poetry Prize. … Read More

Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine is the author of five books of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; three plays including HELP, which premiered in March 2020 (The Shed, NYC), and The White Card, which premiered in February 2018 (ArtsEmerson/American Repertory Theater) and was published in 2019; as well as numerous video collaborations. Her recent … Read More


2021 Judges

Ilya Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and arrived in the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. He is the author of Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press) and Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press) and co-editor and co-translated many other books, including Ecco Anthology of International … Read More

Aleš Šteger

Aleš Šteger was born in Ptuj, Slovenia. He works as an editor, translator, and initiator of artistic and cultural events, and translates from Germany and Spanish. He has translated or co-translated books by Pablo Neruda, Ingeborg Bachmann, Gottfried Benn, Peter Huchel, Olga Orózco, César Vallego, Ko Un, and Walter Benjamin. Šteger … Read More

Souvankham Thammavongsa

Souvankham Thammavongsa is the author of four poetry books, winner of the ReLit Prize and Trillium Book Award for Poetry, and the story collection How to Pronounce Knife (McClelland & Stewart). Her writing has appeared in Harper’s Magazine, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Granta, and other places. She has been in residence at Yaddo and has performed … Read More


2020 Judges

Paula Meehan

Paula Meehan was born in Dublin where she still lives. She studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and at Eastern Washington University in the U.S. She has published seven collections of poetry which have received both popular and critical acclaim. She has moderated workshops in the community, in the prisons, in recovery … Read More

Kei Miller

Kei Miller was born in Jamaica in 1978 and has written several books across a range of genres. His 2014 collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, won the Forward Prize for Best Collection while his 2017 novel, Augustown, won the Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, the Prix Les Afriques, and … Read More

Hoa Nguyen

Hoa Nguyen is the author of several books of poetry, including As Long As Trees Last, Red Juice, and Violet Energy Ingots, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Griffin Poetry Prize. As a public proponent and advocate of contemporary poetry, she has served as guest editor for The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2018 and she has performed … Read More


2019 Judges

Ulrikka S. Gernes

Ulrikka Gernes was born in Sweden of Danish parents. At the age of twenty-two she moved to Copenhagen, Denmark, already a published and highly acclaimed poet. Her first collection, Natsvœmer, was published in 1984. Since then she has published an additional ten collections, two books for children, and many short stories, songs, … Read More

Kim Maltman

Kim Maltman is a poet, theoretical particle physicist, and occasional translator who has published five books of solo poetry, over two hundred papers in the scientific literature, and three books of collaborative poetry, most recently Box Kite, published in 2016. In addition to recent solo work which has appeared under a variety … Read More

Srikanth Reddy

Srikanth Reddy is the author of Voyager, which was named one of the best books of poetry in 2011 by The New Yorker, The Believer, and National Public Radio. His previous collection, Facts for Visitors, won the 2005 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry. A book of literary criticism, Changing Subjects: Digressions in Modern … Read More


2018 Judges

Sarah Howe

Sarah Howe is a British poet, academic and editor. Her first book, Loop of Jade (2015), won the T.S. Eliot Prize and The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Born in Hong Kong to an English father and Chinese mother, she moved to England as a child. Her pamphlet, A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia (2009), won … Read More

Ben Lerner

Ben Lerner is the author of three books of poetry (The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw, and Mean Free Path), two novels (Leaving the Atocha Station, and 10:04), and a work of criticism (The Hatred of Poetry). He has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Foundations, among many other honours. Read More

Ian Williams

Ian Williams is the author of Personals, shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize, and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award; Not Anyone’s Anything, winner of the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first collection of short fiction in Canada; and You Know Who You Are, a finalist for the ReLit Prize for poetry. … Read More


2017 Judges

Sue Goyette

Sue Goyette lives in Halifax and has published five books of poems and a novel. Her latest collection is The Brief Reincarnation of a Girl (2015). She’s been nominated for several awards including the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize and has won the CBC Literary Prize for Poetry, the Bliss Carman, Pat Lowther, and … Read More

Joan Naviyuk Kane

Joan Naviyuk Kane is the author of The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife, Hyperboreal, The Straits, and Milk Black Carbon, which is forthcoming in the Pitt Poetry Series. Her awards include the Whiting Writer’s Award, the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, the American Book Award, the Alaska Literary Award, and fellowships from the Rasmuson Foundation, the Native Arts … Read More

George Szirtes

George Szirtes was born in Budapest in 1948 and came to England as a refugee with his parents and younger brother following the Hungarian Uprising of 1956. He grew up in London and trained as a painter in Leeds and London. He is the author of some fifteen books of poetry, … Read More


2016 Judges

Alice Oswald

Alice Oswald has published six collections of poetry and Selected poems of both Thomas Wyatt and Ted Hughes. She has won several awards including the T.S. Eliot, Ted Hughes, Hawthornden, Cholmondley and Warwick. She works part time as a gardener and performs widely. In June 2019, Alice Oswald was elected to the … Read More

Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith is the author of three acclaimed books of poetry: The Body’s Question, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize; Duende, winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award; and, most recently, Life on Mars, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, a New York … Read More

Adam Sol

Adam Sol has published four collections of poetry, the latest of which, Complicity, was released in 2014. His previous collections include Jeremiah, Ohio, a novel in poems that was shortlisted for Ontario’s Trillium Award for Poetry; Crowd of Sounds, which won the award in 2004; and Jonah’s Promise. He has published fiction, scholarly essays and … Read More


2015 Judges

Tim Bowling

Tim Bowling is the author of twelve poetry collections, including Selected Poems (2013) and Circa Nineteen Hundred and Grief (2014) and of four novels and two works of non-fiction. His work has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, two nominations for the Governor General’s Award, two Writers’ Trust nominations and five Alberta Book Awards. Originally from Ladner, … Read More

Fanny Howe

Fanny Howe has written numerous books of fiction and poetry and has won a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Ruth Lilly Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. Her most recent collection of poetry, Second Childhood, was published in 2014. She lives in Massachusetts and is currently a Visiting Writer at Brown University. Read More

Piotr Sommer

Piotr Sommer has written numerous books in Polish, including a selected poems Po ciemku tez (2013). His poetry has been translated into many languages. He has also published two books of essays, as well as translations of American, English and Irish verse into Polish. His books in English are Things to Translate (1991), Continued (2005) and Overdoing It (2013). … Read More


2014 Judges

Robert Bringhurst

Robert Bringhurst has published some twenty books of poetry. He has been a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry and has held research grants in Native American literature and linguistics from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (Paris), and the American Philosophical Society, … Read More

Jo Shapcott

Jo Shapcott was born in London, England. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the … Read More

C. D. Wright

C.D. Wright is the author of more than a dozen books, most recently, One With Others: a little book of her days which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award. A limited edition of her long poem Breathtaken with linocuts by … Read More


2013 Judges

Suzanne Buffam

Suzanne Buffam was born in Montreal, raised in Vancouver, and currently lives in Chicago. Her first collection of poetry, Past Imperfect, was published by House of Anansi Press in 2005 and named a 2005 Book of the Year by Toronto’s The Globe and Mail newspaper. Past Imperfect won the League of Canadian Poets’ Gerald Lampert Award … Read More

Mark Doty

Mark Doty is the author of eight books of poems, including Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008; School of the Arts, Source, and My Alexandria. He has also published five volumes of nonfiction prose, among them Dog Years, which was named a New York Times bestseller in … Read More

Wang Ping

Wang Ping was born in Shanghai and came to the US in 1986. She is the founder and director of the Kinship of Rivers project, a five-year project that builds a sense of kinship among the people who live along the Mississippi and Yangtze Rivers through exchanging gifts of art, poetry, … Read More


2012 Judges

Heather McHugh

Heather McHugh was born in San Diego, California. She has published volumes of poetry, translation and essays, and for over 35 years has taught and lectured at universities. She is Pollock Professor of Poetry at the University of Washington, and one of the original visiting faculty at the fabled Warren Wilson … Read More

David O'Meara

David O’Meara was born in Pembroke, Ontario. He is the author of three collections of poetry, and a play, Disaster. His most recent book is Noble Gas, Penny Black. His work has appeared in a number of magazines and anthologies, including The New Canon, and The Echoing Years, a co-Irish/Canadian anthology. He has been shortlisted … Read More

Fiona Sampson

Fiona Sampson is a poet, essayist and critic whose most recent books include a new edition of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Music Lessons: The Newcastle Poetry Lectures. Published in more than thirty languages, she has eleven books in translation including Patuvachki Dnevnik, which was awarded the Zlaten Prsten. In 2009, she received a Cholmondeley Award … Read More


2011 Judges

Tim Lilburn

Tim Lilburn was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. He has published eight books of poetry, including To the River (1999), Kill-site (2003) and Orphic Politics (2008). His work has received the Governor General’s Award (for Kill-site) and the Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award (for To the River), among other prizes. A selection of his poetry is collected in Desire Never … Read More

Colm Toíbín

Colm Toíbín is the author of six novels, including The Master, winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, as well as winner of the LA Times Novel of the Year and the Meilleur Livre Etranger in France, and Brooklyn, winner of the Costa Prize for … Read More

Chase Twichell

Chase Twichell has published seven books of poetry: Horses Where the Answers Should Have Been: New & Selected Poems, Dog Language, The Snow Watcher, The Ghost of Eden, Perdido, The Odds, and Northern Spy. She is also the translator, with Tony K. Stewart, of The Lover of God by Rabindranath Tagore, and co-editor of The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from … Read More


2010 Judges

Anne Carson

Anne Carson was born in Canada and currently holds the Chair of Distinguished Poet in Residence at NYU. Carson was an Anna-Maria Kellen Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany in 2007. Among her awards and honours, Carson received the 1996 Lannan Literary Award and the 1997 Pushcart Prize, as … Read More

Kathleen Jamie

Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie was raised in Currie, Edinburgh. Considered one of the most gifted contemporary poets in the UK, Jamie won the 2004 Forward Poetry Prize for The Tree House and was shortlisted for the 2003 Griffin Poetry Prize for Mr and Mrs Scotland are Dead: Poems 1980-1994. Her other books of poetry include The … Read More

Carl Phillips

Carl Phillips is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts. He taught high school Latin for eight years and is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Speak Low (2009) and Quiver of Arrows: Selected Poems 1986-2006 (2007). He is also the author of Coin of the Realm: Essays on the … Read More


2009 Judges

Saskia Hamilton

Saskia Hamilton is the author of two books of poetry, As for Dream (2001) and Divide These (2005). She is also the editor of The Letters of Robert Lowell (2005) and a co-editor of Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (2008). The recipient of a Bunting Fellowship from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced … Read More

Dennis O’Driscoll

Dennis O’Driscoll was born in Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland. His eight books of poetry include Weather Permitting (1999), which was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Prize; Exemplary Damages (2002), and New and Selected Poems (2004). His latest collection of poems, Reality Check (2007), was shortlisted for the Irish Times / Poetry Now Prize in 2008. A selection of his essays and reviews, Troubled … Read More

Michael Redhill

Michael Redhill is a novelist, poet, and playwright, as well as the publisher and one of the editors of Brick. His most recent novel, Consolation, was longlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize, won the Toronto Book Award, and was the Toronto Public Library’s inaugural One Book One City choice in 2008. His … Read More


2008 Judges

George Bowering

George Bowering was born in Penticton, and now lives in Vancouver, BC. A prolific writer, he has published more than 40 books, including novels, stories, booklength poems and poetry collections, and won many awards. He received the Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry for The Gangs of Kosmos (1969) and the Governor General’s … Read More

Pura López Colomé

Pura López Colomé was born in Mexico City and now lives in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She spent her early years in Mexico City and Mérida, Yucatán, and completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She was awarded the Alfonso Reyes National Prize for Young Writers (1977) … Read More

James Lasdun

James Lasdun was born in London and now lives in Woodstock, New York. He has published several books of poetry and fiction. He has received a Guggenheim award for his poetry, and his most recent collection, Landscape with Chainsaw, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection of the year, … Read More


2007 Judges

John Burnside

Poet and novelist John Burnside was born in 1955 in Dunfermline, Scotland. A former computer systems engineer, he has been a freelance writer since 1996; he has also worked as a gardener and in a variety of jobs. He is currently Reader in Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews. His … Read More

Charles Simic

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Simic has published five books of essays, a memoir, numerous translations and sixteen collections of poetry. His collection Selected Poems: 1963-2003 won the International Griffin Poetry Prize in 2005. Born in 1938 in Belgrade Yugoslavia, Simic immigrated to the United States in 1952 and saw his first poems published in 1959. … Read More

Karen Solie

Karen Solie was born in Moose Jaw and grew up on the family farm in southwest Saskatchewan. Her first collection of poems, Short Haul Engine, won the BC Book Prize Dorothy Livesay Award and was shortlisted for the 2002 Griffin Poetry Prize, the Gerald Lampert Award, and the ReLit Prize. Her second, Modern and … Read More


2006 Judges

Lavinia Greenlaw

Lavinia Greenlaw was born in London, where she still lives. She teaches at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has published three collections of poetry: Night Photograph (1993), A World Where News Travelled Slowly (1997) and Minsk (2003). Her first novel, Mary George of Allnorthover, was published in 2001 and has appeared in the Netherlands, the United States, … Read More

Lisa Robertson

Born in Toronto, Canadian writer Lisa Robertson lived in Vancouver for twenty-three years, where she was a member of The Kootenay School of Writing, and Artspeak Gallery. Her books of poetry include Debbie: An Epic (nominated for the Governor Generals Award for Poetry in 1998), The Weather (New Star Books, Canada/Reality Street Editions, UK) and Rousseau’s Boat (Nomados), … Read More

Eliot Weinberger

Eliot Weinberger books of literary writings include Works on Paper, Outside Stories, Written Reaction, Karmic Traces and The Stars. His political articles are collected in 9/12, What I Heard About Iraq, and What Happened Here: Bush Chronicles. His work regularly appears in translation and has been published in some thirty languages. The author of a study of Chinese poetry translation, 19 … Read More


2005 Judges

Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage was born in 1963 and lives in West Yorkshire. He has published nine volumes of poetry including Killing Time (Faber & Faber, 1999) and Selected Poems (Faber & Faber, 2001). His most recent collections are The Universal Home Doctor and Traveling Songs, both published by Faber & Faber in 2002. The Shout, a book of new and … Read More

Erín Moure

Erín Moure is a poet and translator based in Montreal. Her 11th collection of poetry, O Cidadán (Anansi, 2002) is a troubled yet hopeful consideration on what “citizen” could mean in our era; it was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award. Sheep’s Vigil by a Fervent Person (Anansi, 2001, as Eirin Moure), her transelation … Read More

Tomaž Šalamun

Tomaž Šalamun was born in 1941 in Zagreb, Croatia and raised in Koper, Slovenia. Recognized as one of the leading poets in Central Europe, Šalamun writes his poems in Slovenian, the language of a tiny, newly independent country between Italy and Austria, where he lives. His work has reached the world … Read More


2004 Judges

Billy Collins

Billy Collins was appointed United States Poet Laureate 2001-2003. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and The American Scholar, and he is a Guggenheim fellow and New York Public Library “Literary Lion.” Collins has published seven collections of poetry, including Questions About Angels, The Art of Drowning, and Picnic, Lightning. In May 2000, … Read More

Bill Manhire

Bill Manhire was New Zealand’s inaugural Poet Laureate, and is a four-time winner of the New Zealand Book Award for poetry. His Collected Poems (2001) are published by Carcanet in the UK and by Victoria University Press in New Zealand, while a collection of short fiction, South Pacific aka Songs of My Life, is also in … Read More

Phyllis Webb

Phyllis Webb won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry for The Vision Tree in 1982, and was appointed an officer of the Order of Canada in 1992, among other honours. Her publications include Trio (with Gael Turnbull and Eli Mandel), Contact Press (1954); Even Your Right Eye, McClelland & Stewart (1956); The Sea is Also a Garden, … Read More


2003 Judges

Michael Longley

Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939 and educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Trinity College, Dublin, where he read Classics. In 1991 he retired from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, where he initiated the programmes for literature, the traditional arts and arts-in-education. His collections include Gorse Fires (1991), … Read More

Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds was born in 1942 in San Francisco, and educated at Stanford University and Columbia University. Her first book Satan Says (1980), received the inaugural San Francisco Poetry Center Award. Her second, The Dead and the Living, was both the Lamont Poetry Selection for 1983 and winner of the National Book Critics Circle … Read More

Sharon Thesen

Sharon Thesen is a Vancouver poet and editor, author of eight books of poetry (including two selected poems). Her latest book of poems, A Pair of Scissors (2000), won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award. Confabulations (1984) and The Beginning of the Long Dash (1987) were shortlisted for Governor-General’s Awards. She has edited an award-winning edition of Phyllis … Read More


2002 Judges

Dionne Brand

Dionne Brand is a Canadian poet, novelist and essayist living in Toronto. Her seven volumes of poetry include Land To Light On which won the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry and the Trillium Award for Literature in 1997. Dionne Brand’s fiction includes the acclaimed novel In Another Place, Not Here – a 1998 New York Times … Read More

Robert Creeley

Robert Creeley was a New Englander by birth and disposition although he spent most of his life in other parts of the world, including Guatemala, British Columbia, France and Spain. In the 1950s he edited The Black Mountain Review and taught at Black Mountain College, a crucial gathering place for alternative senses of … Read More

Michael Hofmann

Michael Hofmann was born in Germany, was educated in Britain and now lives in London. His latest collection of poetry, Approximately Nowhere, was published in 1999. His book of essays and reviews of poetry and fiction called Behind the Lines, has just been published by Faber and Faber, which also published his earlier … Read More


2001 Judges

Carolyn Forché

Carolyn Forché’s first poetry collection, Gathering The Tribes (Yale University Press, 1976), won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award from the Yale University Press. In 1977, she travelled to Spain to translate the work of Salvadoran-exiled poet Claribel Alegria, and upon her return, received a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, which enabled … Read More

Dennis Lee

Dennis Lee, Toronto’s poet laureate, has a collection of new poetry, UN, (House of Anansi Press), coming out in April, 2003. His Civil Elegies and Other Poems was awarded the 1972 Governor General’s Award, one of Canada’s highest literary honors. His most recent book, Garbage Delight: Another Helping, from Key Porter, was released in … Read More

Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon was born in 1951 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. He received his B.A. from Queen’s University in Belfast and was a radio and television producer with the BBC in Northern Ireland for 13 years. Since 1987, he has lived in the United States, where he is now Howard … Read More