The editors of Poetry Northwest are pleased to announce the recipient of the first ever Joan Swift Memorial Prize, awarded to a woman poet, 65 or older, currently residing in the Pacific Northwest. The winner is Anne Griffin, of Portland, OR. Her poem, “My Father, Leaving,” receives $500, and will appear in the Summer & Fall 2018 issue of Poetry Northwest.
Anne Griffin was born in 1943 in Saginaw Michigan, spent her early years near Boston, and her adolescence in Southern California. She moved to Oregon for college and has lived in Portland ever since. She is Professor Emeritus at Pacific Northwest College of Art, where for many years she taught studio courses in painting and drawing, as well as seminars on post war art history, critical theory, and art and anthropology.
Griffin’s poetry has appeared in the Napa Review and in Fireweed: Poetry of Western Oregon. Her early training in poetry, over a four-year span, was with Sandra McPherson. Several of her drawings appear in McPherson’s Edge Effect.
Although her focus is now on writing, Griffin has had a long career as a visual artist. In the Pacific Northwest, she has had solo shows at the Fountain and Laura Russo Galleries, The Art Gym, PCVA, and Lynn McAllister; invitational exhibitions at Northwest Artists’ Workshop, Evergreen State College (West Coast Women’s Invitational), Elizabeth Leach Gallery, and the Portland Art Museum (Oregon Artists Under 35 and Paper Works). Outside the region, she has shown at Nevada Art Museum, Blum Helman Soho, Hillwood Art Museum, University of Oklahoma Art Museum, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo (Caracas), Wade Gallery (Los Angeles), Ragdale Foundation (Lake Forest, Illinois), A.I.R. Gallery (NYC), Oceanside Museum of Art (California), and American University of Rome. Awards include a mural commission for the Justice Center in Portland, an Oregon Governor’s Office exhibition, a WESTAF fellowship, an NEA travel grant, and a Ragdale Foundation fellowship. We are pleased to note that Griffin now contributes her mark to the long tradition of dialogue between poetry and the visual arts at Poetry Northwest.
The finalists for the prize include: Joanne Clarkson, Penny Johnson, Mercedes Lawry, Meryl Natchez, Sherry Rind, and Lillo Way. Select poems from these finalists will appear in a special feature on our website in fall 2018. We thank all participants who submitted poems for consideration. We received over 200 submissions for this first contest—it was a delight to have so much strong work to choose from.
The Joan Swift Memorial Prize is graciously co-sponsored in 2018 by Poetry Northwest, The Seattle Review of Books, Esther Altshul Helfgott, Tess Gallagher, Holly Hughes and John Pierce. The contest was judged by Poetry Northwest executive editor Kevin Craft.
The Joan Swift Memorial Prize was established to honor the legacy of poet Joan Swift, an early and regular contributor to Poetry Northwest. Her poems appeared most recently in the Summer Issue 2016. She had a long and notable career as a writer, drawing extensively from her life and experiences in the Pacific Northwest. She died on March 13, 2017, in Edmonds, Washington, at the age of 90.