Major World Poetry Awards in 2010

All around the world there are a few awards for poetry that are a mark of quality of this art and manage to rise the public attention over contemporary poets, even when they are well established as authors in their own comunities.

One of the most important poetry awards in Italy is presented by City of Florence. This year the Carlo Betocchi Prize for poetry was awarded to Patrizia Valduga as she made her own the „crisis of modern lyrical language, managing to give it new literary dignity thanks to an inspired, and striking recovery of contaminated forms and meters of Italian most illustrious tradition.” (Pierfrancesco Listri)

Golden Wreath of Poetry for Struga Poetry Evenings festival was awarded to the Bulgarian author Lyubomir Levchev.

The Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (United States) went to Rae Armantrout for Versed, “a book striking for its wit and linguistic inventiveness, offering poems that are often little thought-bombs detonating in the mind long after the first reading.” as the jury described the collection: “What if there were a hidden pleasure/ in calling one thing/ by another’s name?//” quoted on Cati Poter blog

With National Book Award for Poetry (United States) was prized „Lighthead” by Terrance Hayes. “Maybe Art’s only purpose is to preserve the Self./ Sometimes I play a game in which my primitive craft fire/ upon an alien ship whose intention is the destruction/ of the earth. Other times I fall in love with a word/like somberness.//” is the author quoted from the book in Weave Magazine

2010 National Book Awards Presentation of Poetry Award from National Book Foundation on Vimeo.


The Griffin Poetry Prize is Canada’s most generous poetry award. It was founded in 2000 by businessman and philanthropist Scott Griffin. There are two Griffin awards to be given each year for one Canadian and one international poet that released works in English.

For 2010, the Canadian award went to Karen SoliePigeon. Her book was considered her best until now by Zachariah Wells in Quill and Quire:“She hasn’t abandoned sarcasm and wry irony, but modulates them better as she delves deeper into the social and geological bedrock of our civilization.”

Other nominees were Kate Hall, for her astonishing first book, The Certainty Dream and P.K. Page for Coal and Roses.

The Griffin Prize for International poetry was awarded to the Irish poet Eilean Ni Chuilleanain for The Sun-fish. Described by The Irish Times as „a pre-eminent poet of her time”, Eilean Ni Chuilleanain is the founder of the Cyphers literary magazine and considered by Matthew Sweeney “a unique voice, and this book, as all her books, is to be welcomed.”

Other nominees for the international prize were the Scottish author John Glenday for Grain,the American Louise Gluck for A Village Life and Susan Wicks, for the translation of Cold Spring in Winter by Valerie Rouzeau.

TS Eliot Prize for 2010 is to be announced in January 2011. But we have the nominees list forwarded by the jury (Anne Stevenson, Bernardine Evaristo and Michael Symmons Roberts) for this year. It seems to be announcing quite a hard decision to be taken by the reading groups.

Seeing Stars, by Simon Armitage, “Armitage claims these are poems because he says they are. Hmm. What is certain is his sure control of colloquial rhythm, one of two qualities which marked him out as long ago as Kid. The other is his ability to wrest startling images out of thin air.” wrote  Bill Greenwell for The Independent

Mirabelles, by Annie Freud, is introduced in the PBS Bulletin as a book that:”achieves a convincing point of balance between a predeliction for the quirky or whimsical and weightier, deeper shadings by admitting both into the same spaces. It also feels, from line to line, thoroughly convincing, distinctive and effortless. In The Mirabelles, Freud has produced that very rare bird: the excellent second collection.”

You by John Haynes, “He brings news of the killings: so-called tribe/ on so-called tribe, and all goes back to oil/ and looters in high places, banks and bribes,/ and dead fish floating in a petrol smell,/ and no Osama there, not yet, for Shell/ so-called Nigeria who’s bidding’s done,/ out in the bush somewhere, just before dawn.//” (XIX)

Human Chain, by Seamus Heaney, For Sean O’Brian “In this very rich and substantial collection, Heaney makes frequent use of the tercet stanza, which posterity may indicate he has done much to render a contemporary forma franca. In his hands it has remarkable flexibility – see the dozen 12-line sections of Route 110. The stanza moves as though between the epigrammatic hinge of a couplet and the more expansive quatrain, generating drama and extension (as though into the future of the imaginative act) through enjambed line-and stanza-endings.” (the Independent)

What the Water Gave Me by Pascale Petit “contains fifty-two poems in the voice of the iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Each poem bears the title of one of her paintings. Some are straightforward translations from painting to poem, others are parallels or version homages.” Presents the book the author on her blog.

The Wrecking Light, by Robin Robertson, “There’s an oneiric charge and intensity to many of these poems that builds to a fabular clarity of thought, which is at once precise in its particularity and placeless. Whether in his extraordinarily fresh renderings of Ovid or his own imaginings, Robertson’s lines have the luminosity of myth.” revealed Adam Newey for The Guardian

Rough Music, by Fiona Sampson, “one of Sampson’s themes is how limited language is, and this book belongs to the art of hint. The tone is controlled and lightly pitched; there is a lovely surface smoothness with the rough” is the book described by Ruth Padel for the Guardian

Phantom Noise, by Brian Turner, “Through images that recur again and again, from Iraq to a podium in Colorado, from a field hospital to a pristine day on Puget Sound, we go deep inside this soldier’s relief, grief and alienation.” says Courtney Cook about this collection in Washington Post

White Egrets, by Derek Walcott, “much of the collection is about letting things go – guilt, grudges and, if need be, even poetry itself.” Considers Tom Payne for The Telegraph

New Light for the Old Dark, by Sam Willetts. “a portion of the poems address addiction directly. Willetts also covers childhood and other bits of his life, as well as the second world war and, in “On the Smolensk Road”, his mother’s escape as a girl from attack by Nazi dive-bombers. But I confess the ones that I found most absorbing were those that deal with addiction and recovery.” wrote Andrew M Brown for The Telegraph


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