Griffin Judges Announced
The Griffin Trust has announced their trio of judges for the 2011 edition of their prize. The three people passing judgement on the whole of English-language poetry will be Tim Lilburn, Colm Toibin (apologies to CT, my blog software has an allergy to accented vowels) and Chase Twichell. It’s a pretty standard list: 1 American, 1 Canadian, 1 Brit, 1 non-poet. My favourite part of the Griffin M.O. is that they tend to only have the one Canadian, and that they usually pick a canuck without a particularly strong attachment to the domestic scene. The last two Canadian judges, Redhill and Carson, lived outside the country. Lilburn, though officially a resident of the Dominion, is about as plugged-in as an Amish hermit with crippling agoraphobia.
Meanwhile, the Governor General’s awards continue to struggle with problems of proximity. Surely, we all remember the controversy from a few years back, but I imagine the struggle to find non-biased judges on a year-to-year basis is impossible, especially with the governmental mandate to use Canadians, and Canadians from a broad geographic spectrum. Anyone qualified enough to judge is unusable by the guidelines.
The joke in all of this is of course that there’s no such thing as non-biased judgement. But the Griffin, being a private prize, is allowed to avoid the perception of bias by drawing from a transnational pool of judges. Imagine the headlines (well, the small-print murmurings) if the GGs started “outsourcing” Canadian “cultural industry jobs” by hiring “foreign contractors”.
Looking at those judges, and the books that have come out already in 2010, I’m going to go way out on a limb and make a prediction. Dionne Brand wins the 2011 Griffin Award for her collection Ossuaries. I love this prediction for a couple reasons, as either I’ll be right and able to reach back to this post as evidence of my magnificent precognition, or I’ll be wrong and nobody will remember. Punditry is easy.
I’m not even going to touch the International Prize. How many books are eligible for that thing, 1500? No, thanks.