David Harsent’s Night and Ken Babstock’s Methodist Hatchet have won the 2012 Griffin Poetry Prize. With a C$65,000 award for each — Harsent’s book for the international prize and Babstock’s for the Canadian one — and a C$10,000 honorarium for the shortlisted poets, the Griffin is one of the world’s most generous prizes for single collections of poetry
The three judges Heather McHugh (US), David O’Meara (Canada) and Fiona Sampson (UK) selected the shortlist and winners from 481 poetry collections submitted from 37 countries, including 19 translations. The jury described British poet Harsent’s book, published by Faber and Faber, as “poetry of supreme urgency, haunted by existential and contemporary necessities in which the homeless man in the underpass, the wild Goddess of back gardens, are trickster archetypes – and are our neighbours, too.” He has published nine collections poetry. They wrote of Toronto poet Babstock as “the live wire in the gene pool; stirring things up, rocking boats, disjoining easier conjunctions, jolting the culture’s DNA.” Babstock is the author of three previous collections of poetry. Methodist Hatchet was published by House of Anansi Press.