This year’s judging panel is chaired by Andrew Marr, journalist and television presenter, and includes poets Ian Duhig, Sandeep Parmar and Mona Arshi, and artist Chris Riddell.
They will choose the winners of the Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000), the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000) and the Best Single Poem Prize (£1,000). The Prizes are among the most coveted literary awards in the UK and Ireland: collections of poetry published during the year ending September 2017 are eligible, as are prize-winning single poems or poems nominated by journal editors.
Poems from the shortlists, plus works commended by the judges, will be published as the 26th Forward Book of Poetry this autumn, on the eve of the prize ceremony on 21 September 2017 at the Royal Festival Hall, London.
Andrew Marr is a former editor of The Independent and BBC Political Editor. He currently hosts BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show, and presented Radio 4’s Start the Week from 2005 to 2012. He has written and presented numerous series for the BBC including Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, Andrew Marr’s The Making of Modern Britain and Andrew Marr’s History of The World. On National Poetry Day 2015, Andrew Marr took over Radio 4’s schedule with We British, an exploration British history and identity through poems. Marr is the author of We British: The Poetry of a People, a history of Britain told through the work of its greatest poets.
He says: “After a quarter of a century, the Forward Prizes for poetry have established themselves as central to the literary landscape of modern Britain – a benevolent act of imagination which has paid off richly – and I am thrilled to be chairing the 2017 awards. Of all the arts, poetry is the one at which the British have traditionally excelled most. Across these Isles, we are living through a period particularly rich in poetry-making. Barely a week goes past when I’m not introduced to a poet or a poem which makes me see the world a little differently and with all the political turbulence around, I can’t wait to get stuck in to some more rigorous reading. With my fellow jurors – the artist Chris Riddell, the scholar Sandeep Parmar and the poets Mona Arshi and Ian Duhig – we will be looking for newly published poems that offer a vital counterbalance to the crude slogans, sound bites and tired metaphors of public life, poems that rub the dull tarnish from our language and make it new.”
Ian Duhig has worked with the homeless in Leeds for many year: a writer and teacher, his collaborators include artists, musicians and film-makers. In 2016, his seventh poetry collection The Blind Roadmaker was shortlisted for the Forward Best Collection, the Roehampton and the TS Eliot Prizes. In 2001, he won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and the National Poetry Competition.
Mona Arshi worked as a human rights lawyer for a decade before she received a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She went on to win the inaugural Magma Poetry Competition in 2011, the Troubadour International Prize and the Manchester Creative Writing Prizes. Her debut collection Small Hands won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2015. Mona is the 2016-2017 Arvon/Jerwood poetry mentor.
Chris Riddell is the creator of an extraordinary range of books which have won many awards including the UNESCO Prize, the Greenaway Medal (on three occasions) and the Hay Festival Medal for Illustration. His work includes the Ottoline and Goth Girl series. Chris has also achieved global success through his New York Times best-selling collaboration on The Edge Chronicles with Paul Stewart and through his illustrated works with other high-profile figures including Neil Gaiman and the comedian Russell Brand. He was appointed Children’s Laureate in 2015.
Chris is also a renowned political cartoonist whose work appears in the Observer, Literary Review and the New Statesman.
Sandeep Parmar is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Liverpool. Her books include Reading Mina Loy’s Autobiographies: Myth of the Modern Woman (a critical study of the modernist writer Mina Loy’s literary archive), and scholarly editions of the Collected Poems of Hope Mirrlees and the Selected Poems of Nancy Cunard. Her own poetry books are The Marble Orchard and Eidolon (a rewriting of the myth of Helen of Troy in modern America). Her essays and reviews have appeared in the Guardian, The Los Angeles Review of Books, the Financial Times and the TLS. She is currently writing a novel, which is partly set during India’s Green Revolution in the 1960s. She is a BBC New Generation Thinker and Co-Director of Liverpool’s Centre for New and International Writing.