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

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.

“Poetry matters. We know that our best poets get into our lives and the world around us better than anyone else. What more challenging backdrop could there be for the 30th anniversary of the Forward Prize than our disordered state? Whatever they say they’re writing about, I know some poets will describe and explain it like no one else can.

I can’t wait to read this year’s poems.”

James Naughtie, Forward Prizes Chair 2021

James Naughtie, one of the country’s best-known broadcasters, is special correspondent for BBC News. He has also presented every edition of Bookclub on BBC Radio and is a former chair of judges for the Booker Prize and the Baillie Giffford Prize for Non-fiction. He has published books on politics and music, and two novels, and most recently On the Road – Adventures from Nixon to Trump, an account of fifty years of travels in the United States.

Tristram Fane Saunders is The Telegraph‘s poetry critic, and the editor of Edna St Vincent Millay: Poems & Satires. He has reviewed poetry for The TLS, The Herald and Radio 4’s Front Row.

Leontia Flynn has published four collections of poetry with Jonathan Cape, most recently The Radio, which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and won the Irish Times Poetry Prize. She has also received the Forward prize for Best First Collection, the Rooney Prize for Irish literature and the AWB Vincent American Ireland Fund Literary Award. The Lifeboat Press published her pamphlet of Catullus translations, Slim New Book, in 2020. She lives in Belfast and is Reader at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University.

Pascale Petit was born in Paris, grew up in France and Wales and lives in Cornwall. She is of French/Welsh/Indian heritage. Her eighth collection, Tiger Girl was shortlisted for the 2020 Forward Prize for Best Collection, and a poem from the book won the Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize. Her previous collection, Mama Amazonica, won the inaugural Laurel Prize, the RSL Ondaatje Prize, and was a Poetry Book Society Choice. She has been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize four times, received a Cholmondeley Award and is a RSL Fellow. Trained as a sculptor at the Royal College of Art, she spent the first part of her life as a visual artist.

Shivanee Ramlochan is a Trinidadian poet, critic and essayist. Her first collection of poems, Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting, was published in 2017 by Peepal Tree Press, and her second book, Unkillable, is forthcoming from Noemi Press (2022) as part of their Infidel Poetics series. She is the Book Reviews Editor at Caribbean Beat Magazine, and works with the NGC Bocas Lit Fest, the Caribbean’s largest Anglophone literary festival.


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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