2019 Forward Prizes

Shortlist announcement

We’re delighted to announce the 15 poets shortlisted for the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2019.

The 28th annual Forward Prizes will be awarded on 20th October 2019 at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. Read the press release here.

See the nation’s most coveted poetry prizes awarded live on stage by the chair of the jury Shahidha Bari and hear readings from the 15 poets shortlisted.

Book Tickets to the ceremony and readings on 20th October 2019

The Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000)

City of Departures by Helen Tookey (Carcanet)

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky (Faber & Faber)

The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here by Vidyan Ravinthiran (Bloodaxe Books)

Noctuary by Niall Campbell (Bloodaxe Books)

Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson (Cape)

The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000)

If All the World and Love Were Young by Stephen Sexton (Penguin Books)

The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus (Penned in the Margins)

Significant Other by Isabel Galleymore (Carcanet)

Surge by Jay Bernard (Chatto & Windus)

Truth Street by David Cain (Smokestack Books)

The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000)

‘Bridge’ by Jonathan Edwards (The Frogmore Papers)

‘Comic Timing’ by Holly Pester (Granta Magazine)

‘Forty Names’ by Parwana Fayyaz (PN Review)

‘Highbury Park’ by Liz Berry (Wild Court)

‘The Window’ by Mary Jean Chan (The National Poetry Competition by the Poetry Society)


The Prizes have been generously supported by Bookmark since 1991 (until 2016, Bookmark traded as Forward Worldwide), and by the late Felix Dennis since 2004.

Writer and broadcaster Shahidha Bari will chair the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2019 judging panel. She is joined by poets Tara Bergin, Andrew McMillan, and Carol Rumens, alongside Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning at the British Library.

The Forward Prizes for Poetry (FPP) are among the UK’s most coveted literary awards: the annual ceremony in October features readings by exceptional poets from around the world, and attracts a young, lively and diverse audience and significant media coverage.

The Prizes have been awarded since 1992 to more than 70 poets, honouring brilliant newcomers – Danez Smith, Liz Berry – alongside established writers at the peaks of their careers: Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes and Claudia Rankine.

Last year’s Forward Prizes winners were Danez Smith, Phoebe Power and Liz Berry.