Thursday May 19, 2016

Griffin Poetry Prize spotlight: Rowan Ricardo Phillips reads from Heaven

Rowan Ricardo Phillips's Heaven is shortlisted for The Griffin Poetry Prize.

Rowan Ricardo Phillips's Heaven is shortlisted for The Griffin Poetry Prize. (Sue Kwon/Macmillan)

In his poem News From The Muse Of Not Guilty, Rowan Ricardo Phillips shows us a paranoid man who cannot enjoy a day at the beach. To write it, the New York poet worked with the image of George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch coordinator acquitted of the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. 

"I was thinking about how freedom doesn't work," says Phillips, who reads the poem and reflects on the complicated ideas behind his latest collection titled Heaven.

"He wears a Hawaiian shirt, but there's a bulletproof vest under it." 

The collection has garnered him a spot on the 2016 shortlist for The Griffin Poetry Prize.

The Griffin Poetry Prize awards $65,000 every year to two poets: one living in Canada, and one poet living in another part of the world. This year on q we're highlighting some of the shortlisted poets leading up to announcement of the winners on June 2nd.