Sunday, June 6, 2010

Congratulations, Karen Solie!

Huge Congratulations to Karen Solie, winner of the 2010 Griffin!
I've been waiting for Karen to win this since she was nominated for her first book, Short Haul Engine, back when we used to share an office (and a supervisor) as PhD candidates/sessional instructors at University of Victoria.
And I've been crossing my fingers as I read my way through Pigeon, over the past few months, altho' I haven't yet mentioned it here (I'm so very remiss on this blog!) -- you should all make sure you always have a slim book of poetry tucked into your bag all the time, the perfect way to enrich those waiting minutes in transit or in lineups or at a picnic table with your lunch. Pigeon would keep you entertained, thinking, provoked, amused, delighted, saddened . . . what I always enjoyed best about Karen's company was the way her rigorous thinking (based on a surprising breadth of reading, always approached analytically yet without depreciating the sensual pleasures of language) had a practical muscularity, punctuated by a world's-best giggle. She's the most interesting mix of farmgirl and streetwise Torontonian (adopted by Toronto, born on a farm). All of this comes through in Pigeon, although the giggle doesn't happen as often in this collection, and perhaps I projected it onto her work from spending some time with her -- I'd love to hear if you detect it, either in this book or, especially in Short-Haul.

One of my colleagues from Media Studies commented the other day on how ironic he thought it was that there were so many Literature prizes -- in a field that should no better than trying to determine a "best," -- and he wondered what I thought. I agreed with his concept, and I suspect Karen, who's judged on the Griffin in other years, might also point to awards in various years that could as well have gone to one nominee as another. However, I argued with/to my colleague, writers -- and poets especially -- have such a precarious financial existence, at the very least in the years before they make it in the market, that I'm thrilled, as a Canadian, that Scott Griffin established such a rich prize, not only for a Canadian poet, but also for an international one.

Now I'm off to get a copy of Eilean Ni Chulleanain's The Sun-Fish (she won the international prize with this book) and discover a new-to-me poet. Keeping in mind my colleague's argument, I'm going to put all the short-listed titles on my reading list and try my best to get to them before the summer is out. Shouldn't you choose one as well?

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