TORONTO – June 7, 2023 –The Griffin Poetry Prize is pleased to announce the 2023 winner, Best Barbarian by Roger Reeves, who received C$130,000 in prize money. The other finalists were each awarded C$10,000.
Judges Nikola Madzirov (Macedonia), Gregory Scofield (Canada), and Natasha Trethewey (USA) each read 602 books of poetry, including 54 translations from 20 languages, submitted by 229 publishers from 20 different countries. The trustees select the judges annually.
The announcement was made at the Griffin Poetry Prize Readings held in Toronto. The evening included a selection of readings by the six finalists, the 2023 Lifetime Recognition Award recipient Fanny Howe, and Emily Riddle—the Canadian First Book Prize winner, who read from her winning book The Big Melt.
Biography: Roger Reeves is the author of King Me and the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and a 2015 Whiting Award, among other honours. His work has appeared in Poetry, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Austin, Texas.
Judges’ Citation for Best Barbarian: “Among the many remarkable poems in Best Barbarian is ‘Journey to Satchidananda’ in which the poet writes: ‘The Japanese call it Kintsugi. / Where the vessel broken, only gold will permit / Its healing. Its history.’ The beauty of that repair, which does not hide nor erase the evidence of trauma—of history—but transforms it, is the abiding metaphor in this capacious and wide-ranging meditation. At the intersections of history and myth, elegy and celebration, these poems chart the ruptures and violences enacted across time and space—particularly against black humanity—while leaning always toward beauty. Beauty and tenderness abound in this collection that dares to risk both: a brilliant and ambitious book.”
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