The Griffin Poetry Prize, Toronto, June 2 & 3; The Writers’ Union of Canada AGM, Ottawa, June 4, 5, 6.

Griffin Poetry Prize

The Griffin Poetry Prize, with its International and Canadian divisions, is now the biggest one in the world. This year is its 10th anniversary. I am a Trustee, so am always there if humanly possible. Since the prize was founded, the Griffin Trust has added various other features – notably the Lifetime Achievement Award, won this year by Adrienne Rich, who was able to come and read – special for me, as I reviewed Diving Into the Wreck when it first so spellbindingly appeared.

There are two Griffin evenings: the first, when all the poets read – an event that began as a small affair ten years ago, but that now regularly sells out a venue such as this year’s Koerner Hall; and the second night, when there’s a party – spectacularly planned and decorated by Krystyne Griffin — and the judges announce the winners. After some initial forays into nightclubs and converted churches, that event has taken place recently in the Distillery District. I’m told there is wild poetic dancing late into the night, though my days for actually being able to do that sort of thing are more or less over.

For all events, the shortlist, the winners, and more, see:

If you want to see a picture of me before I was a “blonde,” look at the tiny band of founders under “The Griffin Trust.” Scott Griffin is the Ur-Founder and Presiding Spirit. Besides being a mad plane pilot (no, I will not get into his plane with him and fly under bridges, no matter how much he wheedles), he was punished as a child by being made to memorize poems – hence his love of the form. Figure that one out.

The Writers’ Union of Canada

This organization was founded in 1973 – a time when most prose writers in Canada had never even met, and did not have agents because there weren’t any on Canada.


This year the AGM was in Ottawa, where members met with MPs to discuss copyright (so gnarly) and other matters. It was also a year when the Union decided to honour all its past Chairs, so as one of them, off I tottered. Graeme Gibson – the moving spirit at the beginning – was already there, as were many old friends and battle-scarred survivors of past fights – infights among them (ouch, ouch –some of those were painful). The past Chairs who are no longer on the planet in visible form were also honoured.

It’s a pleasure to see younger people throwing themselves into the fray – doing work that benefits all writers, not only those who belong to the Union.

1 Comment

Filed under 1, YOTF Tour Blog

One response to “The Griffin Poetry Prize, Toronto, June 2 & 3; The Writers’ Union of Canada AGM, Ottawa, June 4, 5, 6.

  1. Laura

    Ms Atwood;

    I have seen you read before, simply fabulous. I have come across an article in the April 23 edition of the Bookseller in which a columnist writes about how Blur breathed some life into indie music stores by selling ONLY at indie stores. She is urging an author to do the same with indie bookshops, and I though of you! The article is called Indie Exclusives by Katie Allen.


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