The 2023 Forward Prizes will launch on 6 January 2023

Forward Prizes for Poetry are the most influential awards for new poetry in the UK and Ireland, honouring fresh voices alongside internationally established names. 2022 marked the 30th anniversary of the Prizes (first awarded in 1992), and over the last three decades the prizes have celebrated some of the most recognised names in poetry including Simon Armitage, Thom Gunn, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy, Claudia Rankine, Jackie Kay and Caleb Femi.

This year, we introduce a new category to the Forward Prizes. For information on plans, please see this press release.

The Forward Prizes for Poetry for book-length collections welcomes submissions from the editors and publishers of books. In 2023, for the first time, we will have a separate panel for the two Best Single Poems categories. The written submissions must come from magazines, online journals and competitions, published in the UK and Ireland, and the Best Single Poem – Performed category will be self submission from poets. 

Both panels will be five-strong, and judges will read the books and individual poem submissions, before selecting shortlists which are announced in June. The judges will then reflect on the shortlists over the summer before announcing the winners in autumn. You can find out more about the process and eligibility by reading our entry guidance and FAQs.

The Prizes ceremony is accompanied by The Forward Book of Poetry, an annual anthology which brings together the best new work published in the UK and Ireland.

Forward Prize for Best Collection 2022 (£10,000)

WINNER BEST COLLECTION

Kim Moore
All the Men I Never Married (Seren)

All the Men I Never Married deals with experiences of everyday sexism through forty-eight numbered poems and a gallery of exes and significant others.

Stephen Sexton praised the book as a ‘tonally profound collection which is precise, careful, unfolding, whose methodical, numbered poems show us the work and process of overcoming people and encounters’ whilst the judges chair, Fatima Bhutto found the collection ‘full of dangerous wit and knowing humour that speaks directly to the reader in a hugely pleasurable way.’

Nadine Aisha Jassat described it as ‘A phenomenal and powerful collection, and one I urgently want to share with everyone I know. It feels so true, precise, brilliant and layered.’

Forward Prize for Best Collection 2022 Shortlist

Kaveh Akbar

Pilgrim Bell
(Chatto & Windus)

Anthony Joseph

Sonnets for Albert
(Bloomsbury Poetry)

Shane McCrae

Cain Named the Animal
(Little Brown)

Kim Moore

All the Men I Never Married
(Seren Books)

Helen Mort

The Illustrated Woman
(Chatto & Windus)

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

WINNER BEST FIRST COLLECTION

Stephanie Sy-Quia
Amnion
(Granta Poetry)

Amnion spotlights colonialism, class and migration through an accomplished blending of fiction, epic poetry and the lyric essay. It explores the reverberations that the actions of one generation can have on the next, through acts of bravery and resistance, great and small.

Judge alice hiller praised the collection for ‘working in crucial new territory around questions of migrations and gendered identity, both thematically, and in terms of delivery. Through the extended, fragmented form, Sy-Quia interlinks multiple generations and diverse identities, always questioning how the individual narratives are sited relative to the dominant power structures and historical realities shaping their outcomes.’

Rishi Dastidar said: ‘Amnion makes the blood flow faster, it is dazzling, new and exciting in the way it braids the personal with the broader context.’

Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection Shortlist

Mohammed El-Kurd

Rifqa
(Haymarket Books)

Holly Hopkins

The English Summer
(Penned in the Margins)

Padraig Regan

Some Integrity
(Carcanet)

Warsan Shire

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head
(Chatto & Windus)

Stephanie Sy-Quia

Amnion
(Granta Poetry)

Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2022 (£1,000)

WINNER BEST SINGLE POEM

Nick Laird
‘Up Late’ (Granta)

Nick Laird wrote his winning poem ‘Up Late’ as an elegy to his father who died of Covid in March 2021. He said ‘it has a weird real-time element to it that wouldn’t be there if I’d been able to be with my father, so it’s of the moment in that sense. It was the peculiar circumstances of the covid pandemic, where you couldn’t be with your dying loved ones, that brought the poem about in that form.’

The judges felt Laird’s poem sincerely engaged with death, grief and the private and shared lived experience of the pandemic in ways which readers will find profoundly moving and cathartic.

Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2022 Shortlist

Louisa Campbell

‘Dog on a British Airways Airbus 319-100’
(Perverse)

Cecilia Knapp

‘I’m Shouting I LOVED YOUR DAD at my Brother’s Cat’
(Perverse)

Nick Laird

‘Up Late’
(Granta)

Carl Phillips

‘Scattered Snows, to the North’
(PN Review)

Clare Pollard

‘Pollen’
(Bad Lilies)

‘Poetry is the art of the people and the times we live in. It’s an honour to be the chair of judges for the Forward Prize this year and to be spending time in the company of my very talented co-judges as we dedicate our attention to the wider world of contemporary poetry.’

– Fatima Bhutto, Chair of the 2022 Forward Prizes jury

 

2023 Forward Prizes Judges

 

‘I’ve been following the Forward for about thirty years now and I’ve long admired how it’s progressed and flourished through the decades. I’m looking forward to chairing the judging panel for the collections’ categories in 2023, not least because it will mean immersing myself in oceans of contemporary poetry. Poetry is essential to the creative and cultural life of the UK and every year this prize draws attention to the art form and enhances and celebrates the careers of the many writers who make its lists and win its prizes. Long may it continue.’
Bernardine Evaristo, Jury Chair, Collection Prizes 2023

‘This new category is great news for the wide range of poetics on offer, and will undoubtedly revive a scene damaged by the pandemic. I’m excited to be working with Forward to develop a new element to their work that reflects my long engagement in performance and spoken word.’ Joelle Taylor, Jury Chair, Single Poem Prizes 2023

This year, we will have two judging panels for the Forward Prizes, one chaired by Bernardine Evaristo, and consisting of Kate Fox, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Andrés N. Ordórica, and Jessica Traynor, which will be awarded the two collection prizes, and one chaired by Joelle Taylor to award the single poem prizes.

Judging Process

The Forward Prizes for Poetry welcomes submissions from the editors and publishers of books, magazines, online journals and competitions, published in the UK and Ireland. The submission period for 2022 is closed. Our five-strong panel of judges have read all eligible books and individual poem submissions, before selecting shortlists which were announced on 16 June. The judges will reflect on the shortlists over the summer before announcing the winners in autumn. Look out for information about the 2023 submissions process and eligibility in December or by reading the 2022 entry guidance and FAQs.

The Forward Book of Poetry 2023

THE FORWARD BOOK OF POETRY 2023

Our friends at the Poetry Book Society are offering their annual bundle deal on the Forward Prizes shortlist. You can buy all ten shortlisted collections for the incredible price of £110. Find out more here or see the books individually in Forward’s Bookshop.

Sponsors

Since its inception in 1992, the Forward Prizes for Poetry have been supported by Bookmark, the global content marketing and communications agency. It is with their unstinting support that we have been able to shortlist 310 poets over the past 30 years, championed excellence in poetry and reached thousands of school students with Forward Prize Books and activities.

The Forward Prizes are also grateful to the literary estate of the late Felix Dennis, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Arts Council England and a number of individual donors.

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