The Forward Prizes rank among the year’s great literary celebrations: they are unmissable for anyone interested in the best new poetry published today. First broadcast via the British Library on Sunday 25th October 2020.
Shortlist for Best Collection: £10,000
Caroline Bird, Natalie Diaz, Vicki Feaver, David Morley, Pascale Petit
Shortlist for Best First Collection: £5,000
Ella Frears, Will Harris, Rachel Long, Nina Mingya Powles, Martha Sprackland
Shortlist for Best Single Poem: £1,000
Fiona Benson, Malika Booker, Regi Claire, Valzhyna Mort, Sarah Tsiang
Poems of desire – for a voice, for breathing space, for bodies missed or missing – are a recurring theme in this year’s shortlists. They celebrate a world whose inhabitants are spurred to song by the need to assert their own existence and history. They speak of flesh, muscle and all forms of touch, from the knock-out blows of boxer Tyson Fury to lovers’ kisses. Several poets follow threads of language to places as various as the Dale Farm traveller site, a palace-prison in 16th-century Spain, an East London housing estate and the Mojave reservation of southern California, while others make vivid the stuff of everyday life: birdsong, lawnmowers, petrol stations.
The Forward Prizes judges, Alexandra Harris, Kim Moore, Roger Robinson, David Wheatley and Leaf Arbuthnot read over 208 poetry collections, and 205 single poems entered from journals, to find the most exciting poetry published across the UK and Ireland.