Fertig’s new poems

“Poet, publisher and long-time supporter of the writing community, Salt Spring Island-based Mona Fertig (left) has released her first collection of poems in 14 years.” FULL STORY


BC Poet on Griffin Prize long-list

March 21st, 2024

George McWhirter (at right) has earned his spot on the long-list for one of the world’s most generous poetry awards, the Griffin Poetry Prize, for his translation of Self-Portrait in the Zone of Silence (New Directions Publishing $25.29) originally written by renowned Mexican poet, novelist, journalist and environmental activist, Homero Aridjis.

With a blend of dreamlike imagery and profound insights, Aridjis invites readers on a poetic journey that transcends the boundaries of time and space in Self-Portrait in the Zone of Silence. Influenced by a diverse array of poets, his verses explore themes of eternity, mysticism and the human condition with Whitmanesque bravado. Through surreal imagery and metaphorical language, the poet captures the essence of existence, blurring the lines between reality and imagination. His poems, infused with both secular and religious sensibilities, resonate with a universal longing for transcendence and love. Despite the length of the collection, spanning 163 pages, his work serves as a refuge for poetry enthusiasts and casual readers alike, offering a meditative exploration of the mysteries of life. Below is an excerpt from one of the poems within this collection.

“Let us think of the gods of death

dressed in voices and memories they say:

‘This was here.’ ‘This was there.’

Let us suppose there was no forgetting

and for eternity the eyes go on seeing themselves

in the black mirrors of the instant.”

George McWhirter is an Irish-Canadian writer, translator, editor, teacher, and Vancouver’s first Poet Laureate. His first book of poetry, Catalan Poems, was a joint winner of the first Commonwealth Poetry Prize with Chinua Achebe’s Beware, Soul Brother. He has translated works by Mario Arregui, Carlos Fuentes, and José Emilio Pacheco. He received his M.A. from the University of British Columbia and stayed on to become a full professor in 1983 and head of the Creative Writing Department from 1983 to 1993. He retired as a Professor Emeritus in 2005. He was made a life member of the League of Canadian Poets in 2005 and is also a member of the Writers’ Union of Canada, and PEN International.

The short-listed finalists for the award will be revealed on April 17, 2024 and the winner will be announced at the Griffin Poetry Prize Readings to be held at Koerner Hall in Toronto on June 5.



As of 2023, the prize is worth C$130,000, making it the world’s largest international prize for a single book of poetry written in, or translated into English. The other shortlisted poets each receive $10,000. Explore the 22-year history of the Griffin Poetry Prize here. Additionally, a new $10,000 prize is awarded for a Canadian First Book of poetry, along with a six-week residency in Italy in partnership with the Civitella Ranieri Foundation to a Canadian Citizen, or permanent resident, for a first book written in English. A Lifetime Recognition Award is awarded by the trustees in the sum of C$25,000.

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