Moritz, Wright winners of Griffin poetry prizes

A.F. Moritz of Toronto and C.D. Wright of Providence, R.I., are the winners of the 2009 Griffin poetry prizes totalling $100,000.

A.F. Moritz of Toronto and C.D. Wright of Providence, R.I., are the winners of the 2009 Griffin poetry prizes totalling $100,000.

"I believe in what I do and I'm very grateful for this moment that helps it get farther," said Moritz, 62, who won for The Sentinel,which was also shortlisted for Governor General's Literary Award last year.

"But I also would like it to get farther precisely so that it would help be part of the creation or the awareness [of poetry] and that every [poet] would get farther," he told reporters Wednesday night.

Moritz has written more than 15 collections of poetry.

Wright took the international Griffin for Rising, Falling, Hovering.She has written 12 poetry books and was shortlisted for the Griffin in 2003 for Steal Away: New and Selected Poem.

Wright had tears in her eyes while giving a brief acceptance speech.

"It was an emotional moment," Wright said later. "I'm a very good loser, I'm a very awkward winner. I've been well-rewarded by the poetry community, but this is very moving to me."

The Griffins, in their ninth year, award $50,000 to the best book of Canadian poetry and $50,000 to the best international book of poetry.

The annual honour was created by Toronto businessman Scott Griffin and a group of writers, including Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje.

With a total value of $100,000, the Griffins are among the most lucrative poetry prizes in the world.

This year's judges — Canadian writer Michael Redhill, Saskia Hamilton of New York City and Ireland's Dennis O'Driscoll — each read 485 books of poetry, including 33 translations, from 32 countries.

Last year, Vancouver's Robin Blaser — who died last month of cancer — won the Canadian prize, while New York's John Ashbery took home the international award.

Each year, the Griffin Poetry Prize publishes an anthology, a selection of poems from the short-listed books, published by House of Anansi Press. Royalties from the Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology are donated to UNESCO's World Poetry Day.