Ishion Hutchinson on Griffin Poetry Prize 2024 shortlist

Ishion Hutchinson on Canada’s Griffin Poetry Prize 2024 shortlist

Ishion Hutchinson’s poetry collection School of Instructions is in the shortlist for Canada’s Griffin Poetry Prize 2024 announced on Wednesday, April 17, 2024.

The Griffin Poetry Prize is the world’s largest international prize for a first edition single collection of poetry written in or translated into English. The Canada-based prize was founded by businessman and philanthropist Scott Griffin in 2000. The award has geographical categories with one for a Canadian poet and one international poet who writes in the English language. Some previous winners have been Anne Carson, Nikolai Popov, Kamau Brathwaite, and Canisia Lubrin. Tolu Oloruntoba and Douglas Kearney won in 2022 and Roger Reeves won it in 2023.

For 2024, the Jury of Albert F. Moritz (Canada), Jan Wagner (Germany), and Anne Waldman (USA) each read 592 books of poetry, including 49 translations from 22 languages, submitted by 235 publishers from 14 different countries. They announced the longlist on March 20 before the shortlist was made public today which included School of Instructions, Ishion Hutchinson, Jamaica, Faber & Faber, and Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

The jury said of the collection: “Primordial elementals are here: we are by the sea, in the desert, in the trenches, in the mind of a schoolchild discovering ‘natural’ history, in vibrant daily life, in anabasis of war, and studying the innocent volunteers going to disease and slaughter. School of Instructions is a transcendent hybridic feast of a book, an innovative condensed epic comprising startling poetry, primary sources, Biblical naming and mapping, and a haunting trajectory of the British Empire’s Middle Eastern campaigns of WWI juxtaposed with 20th century Jamaica. Hutchinson’s brilliant transmission is deeply intuitive and profound as scholarly and poetic gnosis—you feel instructed by the ongoing koan, coil, knot of colonialism ingrained with civilization.”

Ishion Hutchinson who was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica is the author of the poetry collections Far District, which won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, and House of Lords and Commons, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize in Literature, the Whiting Award, and the Windham-Campbell Prize for Poetry, among other honours.

The winner will be revealed at the Griffin Poetry Prize Readings in Toronto on June 5, and will be awarded $130,000. The other shortlisted finalists will each receive $10,000.

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