Douglas Kearney Awarded Griffin International Poetry Prize

The professor's poetry collection Sho is "the crowning achievement of Kearney’s body of work to date"
Close up color head and shoulders photo of Associate Professor Douglas Kearney

Congratulations to Associate Professor Douglas Kearney, who has been named 2022 winner of the Griffin International Poetry Prize for his 2021 poetry collection Sho (Wave Books)! Kearney receives C$65,000.

One of the most generous international poetry prizes in the world, the Griffin Poetry Prize is presented by the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry. The objective of the prize is to raise the profile of poets and poetry in Canada and internationally for works written in, or translated into, English.

Sho is Douglas Kearney’s genius, vulnerability, and virtuosity on full display," the judges noted. "These poems live in the rhythms of negotiation and navigation, at the root of saying. They elide, slide, exist in fitful comprehension of our world—where the public and private collide. This is work that even on the page, refuses the page with its ‘performative typography.’ Always playful, forever in dialogue, Kearney’s poems come at being from all sides. This book is the crowning achievement of Kearney’s body of work to date.”

Each year the Griffin Poetry Prize is awarded in both Canadian and international categories. Judges Adam Dickinson (Canada), Valzhyna Mort (Belarus), and Claudia Rankine (Jamaica/US) each read 639 books of poetry, submitted by 236 publishers from 16 different countries.

Professor Kearney is a writer of poetry, nonfiction, and libretto, and a current McKnight Presidential Fellow. He received the 2022 Minnesota Book Award for Poetry for Sho, which also was a finalist for the 2022 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the 2021 National Book Award for Poetry. In addition, he received a 2022 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Writers-Loft Award in Creative Poetry. Professor Kearney teaches in the Creative Writing Program, where he is the incoming director. Sho is his seventh book.

Professor Kearney was honored in 2021 as the inaugural recipient of the Campbell Opera Librettist Prize from OPERA America, the first award in American opera specifically recognizing the work of the opera librettist. Kearney co-wrote the libretto of Sweet Land, produced by The Industry in 2020, which was named Best New Opera by the Music Critics Association of North America in 2021. Comet/Poppea, which he wrote with composer George Lewis, was commissioned by American Modern Opera Company and will premiere in 2023.

In 2021, Kearney released Fodder (Fonograf Editions), a live album collaboration with composer, drummer, and turntablist Val Jeanty. Kearney's 2016 collection Buck Studies (Fence Books), won the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award, the CLMP Firecracker Award for Poetry, and the California Book Award's silver medal in poetry. His honors include the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly award, a Whiting Award, and residencies and fellowships from Cave Canem and the Rauschenberg Foundation.

Kearney read and talked about Sho as a Griffin International Poetry Prize finalist on CBC/Radio Canada on June 13.

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