University of Toronto’s writer-in-residence shortlisted for Griffin Poetry Prize

By Stephen Weir

Aisha Sasha John

Aisha Sasha John, a Montreal-born author, artist and dancer of  Caribbean heritage, is one of three Canadians who has been shortlisted for the 2018 Griffin Poetry Prize.

John who was born to Caribbean  immigrant parents (her father came from Barbados and her mother, from Dominica), is currently the University of Toronto’s writer-in-residence. She has published three collections of poems – The Shining MaterialTHOU and I have to live.

Her most recently published book, I have to live, is nominated for the $65,000 Griffin Poetry prize. Its poems are short and simple in style, exploring themes of existence and survival.

John earned a Bachelor of Arts in African Studies and Semiotics from the University of  Toronto before moving on to complete a Master’s in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph.

The Griffin Poetry Prize Awards recently announced seven finalist for 2018 in two  categories – four international and three Canadian

The two other Canadian authors who have been shortlisted for the prize are Indigenous scholar Billy-Ray Belcourt for the book, This Wound is a World, and Donato Mancini who has written Same Diff.

 Four books by United States authors will vie for an international prize, also worth $65,000. They are Heaven Is All Goodbyes by Tongo Eisen-Martin; Debths, by Susan Howe; Whereas by Layli Long Soldier and Hard Child by Natalie Shapero

The  seven finalists will be invited to read in Toronto at Koerner Hall at The Royal Conservatory in the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning, on Wednesday, June 6 at 7.30 p.m.

The finalists will each be awarded $10,000 for their participation in the Shortlist Readings.

The two winners will  be announced at the Griffin Poetry Prize Awards on Thursday, June 7.