Etel Adnan and Sarah Riggs Win Griffin Poetry Prize for ‘Time’

Lebanese poet-artist Etel Adnan and translator Sarah Riggs have won the 2020 Griffin Poetry Prize for Time:

The prize grants both author and translator $65,000 Canadian.

I am glad to the translator co-credited, and happy also to see the translator’s name come first, although not entirely sure what to make of this phrasing:

In any case, the judges for the 2020 prize were Paula Meehan, Kei Miller, and Hoa Nguyen, and they considered 572 books of poetry, which came from fourteen countries; these included translations from eighteen different languages.

Time was, however, the sole translated work to make the 2020 shortlist.

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.

From the judges’ citatIon:

“‘I say that I’m not afraid/of dying because I haven’t/ yet had the experience/ of death’ writes Etel Adnan in the opening poem to Time. What is astonishing here is how she manages to give weariness its own relentless energy. We are pulled quickly through this collection – each poem, only a breath, a small measure of the time that Adnan is counting. Every breath is considered, measured, observant – perceiving even ‘a crack in the/ texture of the day.’ If Adnan is correct and ‘writing comes from a dialogue/ with time’ then this is a conversation the world should be leaning into, listening to a writer who has earned every right to be listened to.”

 Time  is also in contention for the 2020 Best Translated Book Award (BTBA); it also made the PEN American Literary Award longlist for Poetry in Translation. The BTBA is set to announce their winners next week.

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

Reviews in Asymptote, Entropy, Ploughshares.