Wesleyan University Press Book by Chabitnoy Shortlisted for Griffin Poetry Prize

Olivia DrakeApril 13, 20203min

Chabitnoy-Fish-Abigail Chabitnoy’s debut poetry collection How to Dress a Fish, published by Wesleyan University Press in December 2018, has been shortlisted for the 2020 International Griffin Poetry Prize.

The prize is given by The Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry. In addition to the Griffin Poetry Prize, the Griffin Trust initiates and supports projects and ventures consistent with the mandate of the prize to further promote appreciation of Canadian and international poetry.

The judges read 572 books of poetry from 14 countries prior to narrowing their selection down to seven shortlisted finalists. The two winners will each be awarded $65,000, and finalists will be awarded $10,000.

Winning books will be announced on Tuesday, May 19.

The judges described Chabitnoy’s book in their citation:

Abigail Chabitnoy
Abigail Chabitnoy

“Bringing languagelessness into language, Abigail Chabitnoy’s How to Dress a Fish is an act of remythologizing and personal re-collection, a text of redress to the violence of US colonialism. Like the contronym cleave, like swallowed fish that appear whole, her poems assemble a narrative of displacement and emergence, of that which is half-revived and half-buried, to address instability and unify across divides. With gestures of archival investigation and assemblage, the poems move with undercurrent, sections, elision, and invention into voicings of self, land, story, and mythic place. ‘One face is not enough/ to adapt/ to survive/ to be both predator and prey/ and a shark is after all/ not so different.’ How to Dress a Fish speaks of division’s expression and history’s fracturing violence. This is a mending inquiry.”

Chabitnoy earned her MFA in poetry at Colorado State University and was a 2016 Peripheral Poets fellow. Her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Gulf Coast, LitHub, and Red Ink, among others. She is a Koniag descendant and member of the Tangirnaq Native Village in Kodiak, Alaska. She currently resides in Colorado. How to Dress a Fish is her debut poetry collection.