UPDATE: Ghassan Zaqtan’s Visa Issue Resolved

The Canadian government fortunately worked much quicker than the US government in resolving visa issues for Griffin Prize-shortlisted poet Ghassan Zaqtan. The Griffin Poetry Prize organizers tweeted out Thursday afternoon: “Very pleased to report that Ghassan Zaqtan’s visa issues have been resolved. He will be joining the Griffin #Poetry Prize events June 12-13.” 

Griffin organizers also added: “Thank you to everyone who has offered their expressions of support and good wishes as we’ve worked through this situation.”

For background, our original story is below.


Here We Go Again: Canada Denies Ghassan Zaqtan Visa to Attend Griffin Prize Ceremony

Presumably Canada — like its southerly neighbor — will come around on the issue of a visa for Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan, who along with translator Fady Joudah is on the shortlist for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize

straw-bird-joudah-zaqtanHopefully, government officials will issue the visa before the prize ceremony next month. Griffin organizers said on Facebook:

The Griffin Trust is working through appropriate Canadian government channels in the hope we can welcome poet Ghassan Zaqtan to the Griffin Poetry Prize awards festivities in mid June. Thank you to everyone for their expressions of support.

This is particularly galling as the same thing happened to Zaqtan in April of last year, in the US, when Zaqtan was meant to travel around on a multi-city book tour with translator Fady Joudah. Although many protested the visa denial, Zaqtan was unable to make the spring tour, and another one had to be set up in the fall — and yes, that one actually happened.

However, Canada Visa People: I don’t think they can run another Griffin Prize ceremony for you in the fall.

Fady Joudah’s Facebook message said:

“Please share and mobilize: Ghassan Zaqtan, the great Palestinian poet, finalist for the prestigious International Griffin Prize for poetry, has been denied visa to enter Canada to attend the ceremonies in two weeks. The reasons for rejection are: 1-Prize provides insufficient grounds for a visa 2- Uncertainty about his financial independence 3- Uncertainty about his true desire to return to his home. Conditions to consider a new application: 1- proof of financial capacity, explanation of prize money 2- Proof that he had been granted visa before in certain countries (the online application system is not apparently efficient enough to recognize this from his passport info).”

Views from the (fall 2012) events in Boston and Los Angeles:

By Ghada Mourad: ‘The Best Poems Are Not Political Poems, But — 

By Kristin Wagner: Fady Joudah on ‘Othering’ Himself to Translate Ghassan Zaqtan 

Zaqtan’s poetry:

A number of Zaqtan’s poems are online: herehere, and here.