Mexican Poet Homero Aridjis Wins Griffin Poetry Prize

Self-Portrait in the Zone of Silence, written in Spanish by Mexican poet Homero Aridjis (New Directions Publishing) won the 2024 Griffin Poetry Prize, among the richest book awards in the world. The C$130,000 prize is given to the author of a book of poetry written in English, including books translated into English.

When the award is given for a translated book, the translator is favored, taking 60% of the prize, with the author getting 40%. This year, translator George McWhirter wins C$78,000, while Aridjis takes home C$52,000. Each of the other finalists receive C$10,000.

Other winners included Don McKay, who won C$25,000 for the 2024 Lifetime Recognition Award, nominated by the trustees of the international Griffin Poetry Prize. Maggie Burton won C$10,000 for the Canadian First Book Prize for Chores, plus a six-week residency in Umbria, Italy, in partnership with the Civitella Ranieri Foundation.

The Griffin has long been considered a career-making prize, especially for Canadian poets. But in recent years it has courted controversy. In 2022, it combined the prize into a single large award and opened it up to international authors, much to the chagrin of the Canadian publishing community. It has also drawn attention and protest over its source of funding, which comes from Canadian billionaire Scott Griffin, whose wealth was in part derived from arms dealing in the Middle East, causing some poets and publishers to boycott submissions. (Griffin says he cut ties with arms manufacturing years ago.)

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