Vancouver poet makes brief checklist for high Griffin poetry prize

Tolu Oloruntoba’s The Junta of Happenstance has been picked as one of many seven finalists for the 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize

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Vancouver poet Tolu Oloruntoba’s The Junta of Happenstance has been picked as one of many seven finalists for the 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize.

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“I am stunned and very honoured to be on this shortlist with so many fabulous poets. I am still working out what it means to me, but at this moment I feel gratitude and a sense of community,” stated Oloruntoba who added he discovered he had been chosen whereas he was scrolling Twitter, making breakfast and getting his kindergartner’s lunchbox prepared for varsity.

“The judges read hundreds of books to create both shortlists, and had very kind and insightful citations for all seven finalists. I am incredibly thankful to them for this work, and to all the readers of these books around the world. I must, of course, thank my editor, Jim Johnstone, and my publisher Aimeé Parent Dunn, who took a chance on this debut collection.”

Oloruntoba went to clarify in an e mail The Junta of Happenstance, which received the 2021 Governor Normal Literary Award, is about: “conflict — inter-personal, societal, historical, and mental — but not for its own sake. It battles with the gloom in order to vanquish it.

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“We must confront our contradictions and untenable circumstances and continue our search for solace with insistent questions and actions. Having this book shortlisted feels like a validation of that message to me, as well as the craft and collaborative care that went into publishing the book,” Oloruntoba added.

Oloruntoba’s poetry has appeared in, or is forthcoming, in publications together with Harvard Divinity Bulletin, PRISM Worldwide, Columbia Journal and Canadian Literature. He has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His brief fiction has appeared in translation in Dansk PEN Journal.

Judges Adam Dickinson (Canada), Valzhyna Mort (Belarus/US), and Claudia Rankine (Jamaica/US) every learn 639 books of poetry, together with 57 translations from 24 languages, submitted by 236 publishers from 16 totally different international locations.

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The judges of their quotation for Oloruntoba described The Junta of Happenstance as a “dazzling” debut assortment.

“These poems go beyond the desire to ward off death,” the judges stated in a press release. “They emerge out of a life intimate with death’s randomness. Like the vicissitudes of war, Oloruntoba’s poems make peace with accident and fate. They bring breath to survival…These exquisite poems leave an imprint both violent and terrifyingly beautiful.”

Earlier than turning into a supervisor for well being tasks for numerous well being authorities in B.C. Oloruntoba practiced medication. He lived in Nigeria and the US earlier than emigrating to the Vancouver space.

The 2 winners can be introduced on June 15 and can every be awarded $65,000. The opposite finalists — three worldwide and two Canadian — can be awarded $10,000.

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The lists of finalists for 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize are beneath:


Dream of No One However Myself by David Bradford

Brick Books

Letters in a Bruised Cosmos by Liz Howard

McClelland & Stewart

The Junta of Happenstance by Tolu Oloruntoba

Anstruther Books/Palimpsest Press


Late to the Home of Phrases by Sharon Dolin, translated from the Catalan written by Gemma Gorga

Saturnalia Books

Sho by Douglas Kearney

Wave Books

Eccentric Days of Hope and Sorrow by Ali Kinsella and Dzvinia Orlowsky, translated from the Ukrainian written by Natalka Bilotserkivets

Misplaced Horse Press

Requested What Has Modified by Ed Roberson

Wesleyan College Press

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