About Us

Our Mission

The Forward Arts Foundation is a charity committed to widening poetry’s audience, honouring achievement and supporting talent, through National Poetry Day, the Forward Prizes for Poetry and the Forward Book of Poetry, an indispensable annual anthology of the year’s best poems.

To be alerted to opportunities, offers and good poetry, join our mailing list.

Our Purpose

  • to identify and encourage talent
  • to inspire a love of poetry in people of all ages and circumstances
  • to support poets at all stages of their careers
  • to encourage collaboration with performers, musicians, artists, film-makers and social innovators

Our Backers

We are greatly indebted to the Prizes’s sponsor BookmarkArts Council England, the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, the John Ellerman Foundation and to the late Felix Dennis.

Our History

Forward Arts Foundation was created in 1991 by William Sieghart, the founder of the publisher Forward Worldwide, now known as Bookmark. A poetry-lover, he wanted an anthology containing the best poetry of the year. Since none existed, in 1992, he published one himself

The contents of the first Forward Book of Poetry were chosen over 1991/1992 by the five judges of the first Forward Prizes for Poetry, including Sir Stephen Spender, Margaret Drabble and Roger McGough. The Forward Book and Forward Prizes attracted both people who did not know where to begin with contemporary poetry, and die-hard poetry readers.  The Forward Prizes’ power to make reputations was compared to that of the Booker Prize.

In 1994, Sieghart founded National Poetry Day, a day of mass celebration of all things poetical which was taken up enthusiastically by schools, factories, offices and even railway stations. Last year, it reached over 500 million people, largely through Twitter and social media, where the hashtag #nationalpoetryday and the invitation to share a poem proved a winning combination.