About the Forward Prizes for Poetry

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

There are three prizes: The Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000), The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000) and The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000). They are accompanied by the Forward Book of Poetry, an annual anthology which brings together the best new work published in the UK and Ireland.

The Forward Prizes are joined by the Creative Critics’ competition, where 16-19 year olds write poems in response to work shortlisted for the Prizes. Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books has been an A level English set text since 2014.

The Forward Prizes celebrate their thirtieth birthday in 2021 and have been supported since their inception by Bookmark, formally known as Forward Worldwide.


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

Judges for the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2021 have been announced. 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. 

Submissions and Judging Process

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 submission period for 2021 ran 17 January – 8 March. Publishers entering the Forward Prizes for Best Collection and Best First Collection, who submitted entry forms in the submission period, have a further ten days to send us physical copies of their books, due 18 March 2021. Our five-strong panel of judges will read all 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.

Forward Prizes for Poetry 2020

The Forward Prizes for Poetry 2020 winners were announced in an online event, hosted by the British Library, on Sunday 25th October.

Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000)
Caroline Bird The Air Year (Carcanet)

Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000)
Will Harris RENDANG (Granta Poetry)

Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000)
Malika Booker ‘The Little Miracles’ (Magma)


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.

Forward Meet The Poet

Forward Meet The Poet was 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. 


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.

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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