Canada denies Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan entry to attend Griffin Poetry awards 31May13 May 31, 2013

Reported on Canada’s National Post     -     13 May 2013

zaqtan-ghassanAccording to a Facebook post that circulated on Tuesday, Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan, one of the finalists for this year’s Griffin Poetry Prize,  has been denied a visa to enter the country and attend the awards ceremony.

The post said:

“Please share and mobilize: Ghassan Zaqtan, the great Palestinian poet, finalist for the prestigious International Griffin Prize for poetry, has been denied visa to enter Canada to attend the ceremonies in two weeks.  The reasons for rejection are: 1-Prize provides insufficient grounds for a visa 2- Uncertainty about his financial independence 3- Uncertainty about his true desire to return to his home.  Conditions to consider a new application: 1- proof of financial capacity, explanation of prize money 2- Proof that he had been granted visa before in certain countries (the online application system is not apparently efficient enough to recognize this from his passport info).”

Ghassan Zaqtan is nominated for his tenth collection of poetry, Like A Straw Bird It Follows Me, and Other Poems.  One of this year’s jurors – Wang Ping – said that “[his] poetry awakens the spirits buried deep in the garden, in our hearts, in the past, present and future . . .”

It now seems that Griffin Poetry Prize officials have tweeted that they are “working through appropriate Canadian government channels in the hope we can welcome poet Ghassan Zaqtan…”

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