Forward Judges 2018

Forward Arts 2018 Judging Panel Jen Campbell, Chris McCabe,Bidisha,Niall Campbell, Mimi Khalvati

This year’s judging panel was chaired by writer, critic, broadcaster and film-maker Bidisha. It includes poets Mimi Khalvati, Chris McCabe, Niall Campbell, and vlogger, poet and author Jen Campbell.

They chose 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, are published in the 27th Forward Book of Poetry – available HERE. Shortlisted poets were invited to read at a prize ceremony on 18 September 2018 at the Southbank Centre, London.




Bidisha is an author, arts critic, film-maker and broadcaster for BBC radio and TV, Channel 4 and Sky. She presented the flagships arts programmes The Strand (World Service) and Night Waves (BBC Radio 3) as well as being a regular critic on Newsnight Review, Front Row and Saturday Review, which she has also guest presented. She has presented numerous arts documentaries for BBC radio and TV and is a regular critic and columnist for The Guardian and The Observer. She is the author of two novels as well as two travelogues from the Middle East and from Italy. Her most recent book, her fifth, is Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices of London, based on her long-term outreach work with asylum seekers and refugees. Her poetry has been published by Wasafiri magazine, Seagull Books, Saqi Books, English PEN and Young MWA magazine and she also writes on poetry for Poetry Review and BBC Arts. She is a trustee of the Booker Prize Foundation, looking after the UK’s most prestigious prizes for prose fiction in English and in translation. She has just directed her first film, An Impossible Poison, a dramatisation of text from a selection of her poetry, which premiered in Berlin in late 2017.




Mimi Khalvati (credit Caroline Forbes)

Mimi Khalvati (photo: Caroline Forbes)

Mimi Khalvati has published eight collections with Carcanet Press, including Child: New & Selected Poems, a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation, and The Meanest Flower, shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. She founded the Poetry School, has received a Cholmondeley Award, a major Arts Council Writer’s Award and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her most recent collection, The Weather Wheel (Carcanet 2014), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and Book of the Year in The Independent. Her Very Selected Poems is published this year by smith/doorstop books.




photo by Jack Goffe

Chris McCabe (photo: Jack Goffe)

Chris McCabe has published four poetry collections, the latest of which is Speculatrix (Penned in the Margins) which was commended in the Forward Prize. He has recorded his work for the Poetry Archive was shortlisted for The Ted Hughes Award in 2013 for his collaborative book with Maria Vlotides, Pharmapoetica. He is writing a series of creative non-fiction books that aim to discover a great lost poet in one of London’s Magnificent Seven cemeteries and his first novel, Dedalus, is forthcoming from Henningham Family Press in 2018. With Victoria Bean he is the co-editor of The New Concrete: Visual Poetry in the 21st Century (Hayward Publishing, 2015). He works as the Poetry Librarian at the National Poetry Library at Southbank Centre.



Niall Campbell

Niall Campbell

Niall Campbell is a poet from the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. His first collection, Moontide, was published by Bloodaxe in 2014 and was awarded the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award and Saltire First Book of the Year. First Nights, poems from Moontide alongside new work, was published by the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets in 2016.


Jen Campbell (photo: Nuraan Ackers)

Jen Campbell (photo: Nuraan Ackers)

Jen Campbell is an award winning poet and short story writer. Her latest book ‘The Beginning of the World in the Middle of the Night’ is published by Two Roads, and her first children’s book ‘Franklin’s Flying Bookshop’ is published by Thames & Hudson. She is also the Sunday Times bestselling author of the ‘Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops’ series and ‘The Bookshop Book.’ She talks about books over at, where she has a following of over 36,000. She has been a judge for the Costa Book Awards and the Somerset Maugham Award, is the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award and is currently Vlogger in Residence for The Poetry Book Society.