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Cover of the Big Melt by Emily Riddle with Griffin Prize - Canadian First Book Award winner seal on it

Nightwood Editions author Emily Riddle Wins Griffin Prize's First Canadian Book Award

Griffin Poetry Prize has announced that The Emily Riddle, author of The Big Melt, is the winner of the 2023 Canadian First Book Prize! The Griffin Poetry Prizes were founded in 2000 to encourage and celebrate excellence in poetry. The Canadian First Book Prize is a new addition to the Griffin Prizes in 2023, and is worth $10,000. Emily Riddle will be invited to participate in the 2023 Griffin Poetry Prize Readings, and has been offered a six-week residency in Italy, in partnership with the Civitella Ranieri Foundation.

Judges Nikola Madzirov (Macedonia), Gregory Scofield (Canada), and Natasha Trethewey (USA) each read 58 Canadian First Book Prize entries. They wrote: “Emily Riddle’s The Big Melt is nêhiyaw governance, Cree governance, at its single most personal form of self-autonomy. The governance of heart and history, language and landscape, nêhiyaw-askiy, Cree earth/land, is embedded in these warrior-women poems. If there is a trail back to our ancestors and forward to ourselves, these poems call us to be still, and to listen to a new generation of storytellers.”

The Griffin Poetry Prize Readings will be held at Koerner Hall on Wednesday, June 7 and the evening will include a selection of readings by the finalists, and this year’s Lifetime Recognition Award recipient. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at the box office of Koerner Hall, 273 Bloor Street West, or online.

The Big Melt is Emily Riddle’s debut collection. In addition to winning the Griffin Poetry Prize’s Canadian First Book Prize, it is also a finalist for the 2023 Indigenous Voices Awards and was longlisted for the Gerald Lampert Poetry Prize, presented by the League of Canadian Poets. Rooted in nêhiyaw thought and urban millennial life events, it examines what it means to repair kinship, contend with fraught history, go home and contemplate prairie ndn utopia in the era of late capitalism and climate change. Part memoir, part research project, this collection draws on Riddle’s experience working in Indigenous governance and her affection for confessional poetry in crafting feminist works that are firmly rooted in place.

Emily Riddle is nêhiyaw and a member of the Alexander First Nation (Kipohtakaw). A writer, editor, policy analyst, language learner and visual artist, she lives in Amiskwaciwâskahikan (Edmonton). She is the senior advisor of Indigenous relations at the Edmonton Public Library. Her writing has been published in The Globe and Mail, Teen Vogue, The Malahat Review and Room Magazine, among others. In 2021 she was awarded the Edmonton Artists’ Trust Award. Emily Riddle is a semidedicated Oilers fan and a dedicated Treaty Six descendant who believes deeply in the brilliance of the Prairies and their people.

Nightwood Editions is an independent publisher, with marketing and distribution services provided by Harbour Publishing.