Grad Canisia Lubrin wins Griffin Poetry Prize
Guelph CW MFA alumna Canisia Lubrin's The Dyzgraphxst has won this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize. We couldn't be more proud of her achievements and the stunning work she continues to create. Awarded annually to one international and one Canadian collection, the Griffin Poetry Prize is one of the world’s most generous awards in the genre, with each winner receiving $65k, and $10k earmarked for each of the finalists. Guelph CW MFA graduates who have been past finalists for this award include Aisha Sasha John, Soraya Peerbaye and Liz Howard (winner, 2016).
As we've shared previously, it's been a huge year for Lubrin and her sophomore poetry collection. In addition to the Griffin Prize, she has been awarded a coveted Wyndaham Campbell Prize, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature, a Joseph S. Stauffer Prize from the Canada Council, and been a finalist for numerous other awards.
Publisher McClelland & Stewart describes The Dyzgraphxst as seven inquiries into selfhood through the perennial figure Jejune. Polyvocal in register, the book moves to mine meanings of kinship through the wide and intimate reach of language across geographies and generations. Against the contemporary backdrop of intensified capitalist fascism, toxic nationalism, and climate disaster, the figure Jejune asks, how have I come to make home out of unrecognizability. Marked by and through diasporic life, Jejune declares, I was not myself. I am not myself. My self resembles something having nothing to do with me."
The Griffin Prize jury (Ilya Kaminsky, Aleš Šteger and Souvankham Thammavongsa) call it "a spectacular feat of architecture... Built with ‘I’—a single mark on the page, a voice, a blade, a life-force soaring back—and assembled over seven acts addressing language, grammar, sentence, line, stage, and world, the poet forms, invents, surprises, and sharpens life. Generous, generating, and an abundance of rigour. A wide and widening ocean of feeling are the blueprints of this book. It is shaped to be the shape of the shape / of the shape of a thing that light curves over time / length to width to depth and all of us its information.”
No matter how you talk about this remarkable book, it demands engagement. You can order The Dyzgraphxst directly from the publisher, or find it at your local independent book store. For more from Canisia on her process of writing this unique collection, as well as some great links to interview recordings and readings...take a look at this CBC Books piece.