Etel Adnan’s ‘Time’ Makes Griffin Poetry Prize Shortlist

The Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry today announced both the international and Canadian shortlists for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize:

The two longlists, from the Griffin Poetry Prize.

Four books made the 2020 international shortlist, but just one translation: Etel Adnan’s Time, translated from the French by Sarah Riggs. Last week, Time also made the longlist of the 2020 Best Translated Book Award; it also made the PEN American Literary Award longlist for Poetry in Translation.

The poems in Time were sparked by a postcard Adnan received on October 27, 2003 from poet Khaled Najar, who she had met in the late seventies, and born out of their postcard correspondence.

The collection was initially published in Tunisia, where, according to translator Sarah Riggs, “there was one poem placed each on its own page, with the editor’s own Arabic translation on the facing page.” Riggs adds: “The Nightboat edition may invite more of this play around and back and forth, which I think is always available in Etel’s work, because her words in these poems are like to swatches of color in her painting that are separate and connected to patches around them.”

The other three books on the Griffin shortlist were: Abigail Chabitnoy’s How to Dress a Fish, Sharon Olds’ Arias, and Natalie Scenters-Zapico’s Lima :: Limón.

According to prize organizers, this year’s judges — Paula Meehan (Ireland), Kei Miller (Jamaica/UK), and Hoa Nguyen (Canada) — each read 572 books of poetry, from 14 countries, including 37 translations.

The two winners will be announced online on Tuesday, May 19; each will be awarded $65,000. The other finalists — three International and two Canadian — will be awarded $10,000.

Also read: Sarah Riggs: Five Questions on Etel Adnan’s TIME

Reviews in Asymptote, Entropy, Ploughshares.