Monday, June 11, 2007

Last Tango in Toronto: More about McKay

from's Account of the Griffin Prize Ceremony, June 8, 2007

Dancing in the Distillery: the 2007 Griffin Gala

Sharon Harris

Buzz about the Seventh Annual Griffin Poetry Prize began when its 2007 judges were announced last November. Anticipation grew when the shortlist was unveiled two months ago, and on June 5th, the nominated poets performed for an enthusiastic sold-out crowd at The Macmillan Theatre.

And finally! The winners were presented during a vibrant awards gala last Wednesday evening at the Stone Distillery. As you’ve probably heard by now, Charles Wright's Scar Tissue and Don McKay's Strike/Slip won the International and Canadian Awards. The C$100,000 purse is shared between the two winners, and is the most generous poetry prize in the world.

At the ceremony, the word, “generous” was often heard. Throughout the evening, Prize Founder Scott Griffin, and his wife, Krystyne, were also described as altruistic, hospitable, greathearted, kindhearted, philanthropic, and thoughtful. In his acceptance speech, Charles Wright (pictured left) lauded the couple’s “generosity of spirit” and “just plain niceness.”

Host Scott Griffin began the proceedings with a speech about the importance of poetry, and presented The Lifetime Recognition Award to legendary poet Tomas Tranströmer. The Swedish poet, who was in attendance with his wife, Monica, has been translated into English more than any poet in the world, and is often called one of our greatest living poets. Tranströmer’s work was read in Swedish by Monica Tranströmer, and in translation by Griffin Trustee Robin Robertson. Trustee Robert Hass paid tribute with a moving speech about the poet’s career; glasses were raised. Later in the evening, Canadian winner Don McKay cited Tomas as “the most important poet” in his life[...]


Strike/Slip by Don McKay
was published by McClelland & Stewart in 2007.

Coming soon from Rattling Books:

Songs for the Songs of Birds
, Don McKay's selection of poems on the theme of birds, birding and flight. Narrated by the author, the soundtrack features bird song recordings identified to species.