The 2023 Forward Prizes for Poetry Ceremony

The Forward Prizes ceremony takes place on Monday 16 October at Leeds Playhouse.

You can buy tickets here:


Why not explore the shortlist with our reading guide, and join the ceremony live or online to see if you can predict the winners.

The Forward Book of Poetry 2024

This is poetry for our times.

The Forward Book of Poetry 2024 brings together the best poetry published in the British Isles over the last year, including the winners of the 2024 Forward Prizes. In showcasing the range and ambition of today’s fresh voices alongside new work by familiar names, this anthology is a perfect introduction to contemporary poetry.

The Forward Prizes are invaluable in finding the most essential, exciting voices, highlighting the contemporary poets who are at the top of their game and whose words will travel far and reach many readers.

“The Forward Prizes have established themselves as central to the literary landscape of modern Britain.” Andrew Marr

About the Forward Prizes for Poetry

The four Forward Prizes shortlists this year open up new territories for the form, highlighting poetic conversations with society, history, culture and the past that challenge and inform our present. Renowned for championing new poetic voices and internationally celebrated writers alike, the shortlists announced today represent the diverse excellence of contemporary poetry, and all its boundary-pushing innovations.

This year, we welcome a new category to the Prizes: Best Single Poem – Performed.

The Forward Prizes for Poetry are the most widely coveted awards for new poetry published in the UK and Ireland. The annual ceremony brings poetry’s biggest names to perform alongside rising talent before diverse and enthusiastic audiences. The prizes, run by the Forward Arts Foundation since 1992, are sponsored by Bookmark Content. Over the last three decades, the Prizes have recognised many of contemporary literature’s most celebrated names: Simon Armitage, Thom Gunn, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy, Claudia Rankine and Caleb Femi.

Bernardine Evaristo, Chair for the Best Collections panel, was joined by judges Kate Fox, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Andrés N. Ordórica and Jessica Traynor.
Joelle Taylor, Chair for Best Single Poems panel, was joined by Khadijah Ibrahiim, Caroline Bird, Chris Redmond and Sue Roberts.

Forward Prize for Best Collection 2023 Shortlist

Jason Allen-Paisant

Self Portrait as Othello

Mary Jean Chan

Bright Fear
(Faber & Faber)

Jane Clarke

A Change in the Air

Kit Fan

The Ink Cloud Reader

Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

My Name is Abilene

Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection 2023 Shortlist

Susannah Dickey


Rowan Evans

A Method, A Path

Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa

Cane, Corn & Gully
(Out-Spoken Press)

Momtaza Mehri

Bad Diaspora Poems
(Jonathan Cape)

Kandace Siobhan Walker

(Cheerio Publishing)

Forward Prize for Best Single Poem – Written 2023 Shortlist

Kathryn Bevis

‘My body tells me that she’s filing for divorce’ (Second Light Poetry Competition)

Malika Booker

(Poetry Review)

Kizziah Burton

‘Oh do you know the Flower Man’
(Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition)

Breda Spaight

‘The Curse’

Eric Yip

(National Poetry Competition)

Forward Prize for Best Single Poem – Performed 2023 Shortlist

Zena Edwards

‘Human : This Embodied Knowledge’

Michael Pedersen

‘The Cat Prince’

Bohdan Piasecki

‘Almost Certainly’

Roger Robinson

‘The City Kids See the Sea’

Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe

‘And our eyes are on Europe’

‘It was such a pleasure to read so many wonderful poetry collections for this prize from established poets, and to discover new poets at the start of their publishing careers. I think it’s safe to say that poetry in the twenty-first century is flourishing like never before with such a broad range of poets writing from different backgrounds. As a jury we found ourselves drawn to poets who were moving poetry forwards in theme or form or both, who offered us emotional depth, imaginative fertility, re-readability and intellectual complexity, and, most importantly, who were writing fresh perspectives. The ten poets who made the cut, did so in a field of over 230 poets and while it was sometimes heartbreaking to say goodbye to collections we loved, we are incredibly excited to be presenting such an exceptional body of work.’

– Bernardine Evaristo,
Chair for the Best Collection and Best First Collection categories


‘The Forward Prize is the first major British literary award to include performed poetry within its categories, and I am honoured to have chaired the judging panel for both that and best single poem published in a journal. Between the two categories we have curated shortlists that exemplify all that is distinct, innovative, and alive in British poetry and poetic thought.’

– Joelle Taylor
Chair for the Best Single Poem Written and Performed categories



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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