The 2024 Forward Prizes have now launched

The Forward Prizes for Poetry are the most influential awards for new poetry in the UK and Ireland, honouring fresh voices alongside internationally established names. First awarded in 1992, 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.

Last year, we introduced a new category to the Forward Prizes: Best Single Poem – Performed. After a brilliant reception from the poetry community, we’re thrilled to be continuing with the category in this year’s awards. We’ve made some tweaks to the criteria, so please get in touch with us, if you have any questions about the new approach. You can reach us at

The Forward Prizes for Poetry for book-length collections welcomes submissions from the editors and publishers of books. For Best Single Poem – 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. 

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.

Judging Process

We’ve condensed our judging this year to a single, four-judge panel. Each judge 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.

2023 Winners of the Forward Prizes for Poetry


Best Collection: Jason Allen-Paisant, Self Portrait as Othello (Carcanet)

Best First Collection: Momtaza Mehri, Bad Diaspora Poems (Jonathan Cape)

Best Single Poem – Written: Malika Booker, ‘Libation’ (The Poetry Review)

Best Single Poem – Performed: Bohdan Piasecki, ‘Almost Certainly’

Forward Prize for Best Collection 2023 (£10,000)


Jason Allen-Paisant
Self Portrait as Othello (Carcanet)

Jamaican writer and academic Jason Allen-Paisant collected the prize for Best Collection in Leeds, the city where he lives, for his seminal Self-Portrait as Othello (Carcanet).

‘An exhilarating and propulsive read that sweeps through several European cities that become subject to the black male gaze, changing what is seen and who is heard. Playful, intimate and allusive, these poems interrogate masculinity and history, experiment with the myth of Othello, mourn absent fathers, and offer us a refreshing mash-up of languages that regenerate poetry so that it feels freshly minted.’
Chair of Judges for the Best Collections panel, Bernardine Evaristo

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

Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2023 (£5,000)


Momtaza Mehri
Bad Diaspora Poems (Jonathan Cape)

Former Young People’s Laureate of London Momtaza Mehri was awarded the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection for her critically acclaimed Bad Diaspora Poems (Jonathan Cape)

‘An exceptional debut collection that reinvigorates ideas around diaspora, migration and home. Wide-ranging and ambitious, her poetry shimmers with erudition and linguistic exquisiteness, while also having an emotional heart. Drawing on global cultures, Mehri is a truly transnational poet of the twenty-first century whose words pulsate out into the world-at-large.’
Chair of Judges for the Best Collections panel, Bernardine Evaristo

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 (£1,000)


 Malika Booker
‘Libation’ (The Poetry Review)

Malika Booker, also based in Leeds, has became the first woman to win the Best Single Poem – Written category twice, first in 2020, and this year for ‘Libation’, originally published in The Poetry Review.

‘Malika’s piece reads like a drink. A slow pour of linguistic libation that funnels the reader down into the depths of ritual, grief, culture and society. It works hard to tread so lightly and holds all of this with tenderness and love.’
2023 judge Chris Redmond

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

(The 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 (£1,000)


Bohdan Piasecki
‘Almost Certainly’

Polish-born, Birmingham-based performer and professor Bohdan Piasecki became the inaugural winner of the widely celebrated new category Best Single Poem – Performed, for his moving exploration of Polish and British communities in ‘Almost Certainly’.

‘Bohdan’s poem is not only moving and meticulously crafted, his performance of it is electric. It’s a great example of how many things come into play for “performance poetry” to be more than a recitation. It’s the combination of physical and emotional presence, connection with the audience, command over voice, pace, dynamic range, and sensitivity at all times, to the poem itself.’
2023 judge Chris Redmond

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’


The Forward Prizes are grateful to the literary estate of the late Felix Dennis, the Garfield Weston Foundation, Arts Council England and a number of individual donors. It is with their support that we have been able to platform hundreds of poets over the past 30 years, champion excellence in poetry and reach thousands of school students with Forward Prize Books and activities.

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

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