Welcome to the Forward Prizes for Poetry

The Forward Prizes for Poetry honour excellence in contemporary poetry published in UK and Ireland.

There are three prizes: Best Collection (£10,000) and Best First Collection (£5,000) consider books of poetry, while Best Single Poem (£1,000) seeks the best poem from magazines and competitions.

The shortlists – below – were announced on 10 June 2020 and the winners will be revealed on 25 October 2020.

The chair of the 2020 Forward Prizes jury, writer, critic and social historian Alexandra Harris, said:

“Our shortlisted collections are rich in energy and surprise, intellectually agile, sensuous, made to last. There are transformative leaps of connection across centuries and continents. At a time when our lives are intensely local and global at once, these poets challenge us to think on many different scales: they ask what is large and small, move between intimate individual observation and chorus.”

Read reactions to the shortlist announcement in The Guardian and The Bookseller.

Readings and Announcement

Hear poems from each of the 15 shortlisted poets and find out who has won the most coveted poetry prizes in the British Isles at our online celebration. This is an unmissable event for anyone interested in the best new poetry published today.

This free event, hosted by the British Library, takes place 3pm Sunday 25th October.

Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000)

Caroline Bird

The Air Year

Natalie Diaz

Postcolonial Love Poem
(Faber & Faber)

Vicki Feaver

I Want! I Want!
(Cape Poetry)

David Morley


Pascale Petit

Tiger Girl
(Bloodaxe Books)

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

Ella Frears

Shine, Darling
(Offord Road Books)

Will Harris

(Granta Poetry)

Rachel Long

My Darling from the Lions

Nina Mingya Powles

Magnolia 木蘭
(Nine Arches Press)

Martha Sprackland

(Pavilion Poetry)

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

Fiona Benson

‘Mama Cockroach, I Love You’
(Poetry London)

Malika Booker

‘The Little Miracles’

Regi Claire

(Mslexia & PBS Women’s Poetry Competition)

Valzhyna Mort

‘Nocturne for a Moving Train’
(The Poetry Review)

Sarah Tsiang

‘Dick pics’
(The Moth)

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.

The Poetry Book Society Bundle

Our friends at the Poetry Book Society are offering PBS members all ten Forward Prize Shortlisted books for the reduced price of £75 (RRP £104) including free postage. Non-members can also purchase the Forward Prize Bundle for £100 including postage, but can join the Poetry Book Society to take advantage of the 25% off book discount and a year of poetry parcels delivered straight to your door. Find out more at www.poetrybooks.co.uk.

Forward Meet The Poet

Forward Meet The Poet is an online series featuring readings from the shortlisted books and the chance to ask the poets about their work.

Find out more and browse all Meet The Poet events. 

Judging Panel

Leaf Arbuthnot, Kim Moore, Alexandra Harris (chair), Roger Robinson, David Wheatley | Image credits: Alex Harris – Vikki Beddoes

Writer, critic and social historian Alexandra Harris will chair the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2020 judging panel. She is joined by poets Kim MooreRoger Robinson and David Wheatley, and journalist Leaf ArbuthnotRead more about the judges.


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 submissions period runs January-March. Our five-strong panel of judges read all the books, and individual poem submissions, before selecting shortlists which are announced in June. The judges then reflect on the shortlists over the summer before announcing the winners in autumn, this year on Sunday 25 October 2020. You can find out more about the process and eligibility by reading our entry guidance and FAQs.


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.

Get in Touch

To find out more about what we offer, our events and getting involved.

Contact Us