Forward Prizes for Poetry Shortlist Announced

Forward Prizes for Poetry are the most influential awards for new poetry in the UK and Ireland, honouring fresh voices alongside internationally established names.

There are three prizes: The Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000), The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000) and The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000). They are accompanied by the Forward Book of Poetry, an annual anthology which brings together the best new work published in the UK and Ireland.

The Forward Prizes are joined by the Creative Critics’ competition, where 16-19 year olds write poems in response to work shortlisted for the Prizes. Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books has been an A level English set text since 2014.

The Forward Prizes celebrate their thirtieth birthday in 2021 and have been supported since their inception by Bookmark, formally known as Forward Worldwide.

Forward Prize for Best Collection 2021 (£10,000)

Kayo Chingonyi

A Blood Condition
(Chatto and Windus)

Tishani Doshi

A God at the Door
(Bloodaxe Books)

Selima Hill

Men Who Feed Pigeons
(Bloodaxe Books)

Luke Kennard

Notes on the Sonnets
(Penned in the Margins)

Stephen Sexton

Cheryl’s Destinies
(Penguin Poetry)

Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection 2021 (£5,000)

Caleb Femi

Poor
(Penguin Poetry)

Alice Hiller

Bird of Winter
(Pavilion Poetry)

Cynthia Miller

Honorifics
(Nine Arches Press)

Holly Pester

Comic Timing
(Granta Poetry)

Ralf Webb

Rotten Days in Late Summer
(Penguin Poetry)

Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2021 (£1,000)

Fiona Benson

‘Androgeus’
(Times Literary Supplement)

Natalie Linh Bolderston

‘Middle Name with Diacritics’
(National Poetry Competition)

John McCullough

‘Flower of Sulphur’
(Poetry London)

Denise Riley

‘1948’
(Poetry Ireland Review)

Nicole Sealey

‘Pages 22-29, An excerpt from The Ferguson Report: An Erasure’
(Poetry London)

‘We know that the year – and more – of the pandemic was also the year of reading. And that means poetry as well as prose. It was a time when everyone was reminded how much we need to be exposed to the power of the imagination. And the short lists for the Forward Prizes 2021 are a reminder that the poetic imagination isn’t wholly introspective, although it cuts deep. It’s bold, limitless in ambition and it touches every part of our lives – our own hopes and fears, our communities, and the wider world that so often seems bewildering and over-powering. These poets find pathways into the deepest feelings and discover vantage points that take a reader (or a listener) to another place. In their hands we look at the world differently. This is a moment for poetry; and all these poets deliver. Read them, and take off.’

– James Naughtie, The chair of the 2021 Forward Prizes jury

 

Read the Forward Prizes for Poetry Shortlist Press Release

Judges

L-R Shivanee Ramlochan, Leontia Flynn, James Naughtie, Pascale Petit and Tristram Fane Saunders

Judges for the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2021 have been announced. Broadcaster, journalist and writer James Naughtie, will chair the judging panel. He is joined by poets Leontia Flynn, Pascale Petit and Shivanee Ramlochan and by poetry critic Tristram Fane Saunders. 

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 2021 closed in March. Our five-strong panel of judges will read all 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 Forward Book of Poetry 2021

The Forward Book of Poetry 2021 brings together the best poetry from 2020, including the great work shortlisted and Highly Commended in the 2020 Forward Prizes.

In showcasing the range and ambition of today’s fresh voices alongside work by familiar names, this book is essential reading for seasoned poetry enthusiasts and new readers alike.

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 295 poets over the past 29 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 Esmée Fairburn Foundation, the John Ellerman Foundation and Arts Council England.

Image credits: Tristram Fane Saunders – Paul Grover for the Telegraph, Leontia Flynn – John Duncan, Shivanee – Marlon James, Pascale Petit – Brian Fraser.

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