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Top Canadian award goes to U.S. poet

June 05, 2004|From Associated Press

TORONTO — U.S. poet August Kleinzahler has won one of the world's most prestigious poetry prizes, Canada's $29,200 Griffin Prize, for his book "The Strange Hours Travelers Keep."

Kleinzahler, who hails from New Jersey but has lived in San Francisco for the past 24 years, won Thursday in the Griffin's international category over 422 other books.

The prize is awarded annually for the best books of poetry published in English the previous year.

In accepting the award, Kleinzahler spoke of his love for Canada after attending college in British Columbia in the early 1970s.

"I know the government and CNN would like you [Canadians] to be just like us, but resist, resist, resist!" he said.

A former taxi driver, locksmith, logger and building manager, Kleinzahler also writes about jazz, blues and world music for magazines.

Poets from the United States took all four short-listed positions in the international category among entries from 15 countries. The others were David Kirby, Louis Simpson and Suji Kwock Kim.

"The Americans deserve their place on the stage this evening by submitting highly original and unusual poetry," event founder Scott Griffin said.

Anne Simpson of Nova Scotia won in the Canadian category and also received a $29,200 prize for her book "Loop."

The inspirations for her poems range from the 17th century Flemish painter Pieter Brueghl to the debris from the Sept. 11 attacks once piled on Staten Island.

The Griffin Poetry Prize was founded in 2001.

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