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.For the whole story, click here.
American poet Matthew Rohrer, a founding editor of Fence Books and a past Griffin nominee, gave a keynote speech which was thoughtful and humourous. He told a great anecdote about a fellow U.S. poet who was stopped at the Canadian border. Reason: he gave his occupation as “Poet.”
For his job description, the American poet was immediately whisked to a windowless room and asked to spell “Rimbaud.” He responded successfully, and next the guard commented, “it’s too bad Rimbaud died so young.” The poet correctly countered that Rimbaud stopped writing at an early age, but enjoyed a long life. His passport was officially stamped “Poet” and its owner was welcomed to Canada!
For more information on what Sharon Harris is up to these days, visit her website.