Griffin Poetry Prize – Poetry News June 12th

We begin the week here on My Poetic Side with a look at the 2023 winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize.

Griffin Poetry Prize Winner 2023 Announced

The American poet Roger Reeve was announced as the 2023 winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize last week. The writer who is based in Austin Texas was awarded his $130,000 prize at a ceremony which took part in Toronto. His winning collection is titled “Best Barbarian”. The judging panel praised it for what they called


During his acceptance, Reeve thanked his “people” for everything that they had done over the centuries. He also gave thanks to his grandmother who moved over from South Carolina all the way to New Jersey in order to clean houses and counted amongst her clients some of the first Black women in the US to receive their PhDs. Whilst she was cleaning, she would often instruct Reeve to look up at the shelves, something that, at the time, he could never have imagined would bring him to the stage as a winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize.

Reeve is already a holder of the Whiting Award and has also received a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship.

All of the shortlisted work for the prize will receive $10,000 each. They include Ada Limon’s The Hurting Kind; Ocean Vuong’s Time is a Mother and The Threshold by Iman Mersal, an Egyptian-Canadian

This year sees the Griffin return to an in-person ceremony and this year they have decided to do away with the more formal arrangement of past years which has seen them holding separate events on different nights.

The winner of the Lifetime Recognition Award was also announced during the event and in another first with the prize combining its categories for international and homegrown poets into a single category with a larger global prize. Previously they had awarded one Canadian winner and one international one with two individual prizes of $65,000 each. However, this year the organisers felt that a change of format was needed. The announcement was made last year, and there had been some concerns that this would hurt the chances of homegrown poets to gain the recognition that they deserved. However, these concerns were soon alleviated when a $10,000 prize for a First Book of Poetry by a Canadian was added to the prize.

The Griffin Prize also added its name to the Writers’ Trust of Canada poetry prize this year, which had the effect of more than doubling the purse. This means there is now a prize of $60,000 for the Latner Griffin Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize.

Over the years, the Griffin Poetry Prize has been responsible for launching the careers of poets like Liz Howard, Billy-Ray Belcourt and Tolu Oloruntobo who were all recognised for their first poetry collections.

This year’s entries included 602 books of poetry, a number which included 54 translations from 20 languages. The entries hailed from 20 different countries.

You must register to comment. Log in or Register.