The judges for the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2015 are A L Kennedy (Chair), Colette Bryce, Carrie Etter, Emma Harding & Warsan Shire.
They will choose the winners of the Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000), the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000) and the Best Single Poem Prize in memory of Michael Donaghy (£1,000). The Prizes are among the most coveted literary awards in the UK and Ireland. More than 150 poetry collections, published over the past year, have been submitted for their scrutiny.
Poems from their shortlists, plus works they commend, will be published as the Forward Book of Poetry this autumn, on the eve of the prize giving ceremony on 28 September 2015 at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre in London.
A L Kennedy was born in Dundee in 1965. She is the author of 15 books: 6 novels, 6 short story collections and 3 works of non-fiction. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her latest book All The Rage – a collection of short stories – was published by Jonathan Cape in spring 2014. She is also a dramatist for the stage, radio, TV and film. She writes for a number of UK and overseas publications and has a blog with The Guardian Online.
Colette Bryce (b. 1970, Derry) spent her much of her twenties reading contemporary poetry while working as a bookseller in London: she started to write poems in the early 1990s. After publishing her first collection in 2000, Bryce won a literary fellowship and has worked freelance as a writer and editor ever since. . Bryce was awarded first prize in the National Poetry Competition and the Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors in 2010. The Whole & Rain-domed Universe, her fourth collection – centring on her Derry childhood and questioning the nature of memory and the emigrant’s perspective – was shortlisted for last year’s Forward Prize for Best Collection.
Originally from Normal, Illinois, Carrie Etter has lived in England since 2001 and taught creative writing at Bath Spa University since 2004. She has published three collections of poetry: The Tethers (Seren, 2009), winner of the London New Poetry Prize, Divining for Starters (Shearsman, 2011) and Imagined Sons (Seren, 2014), shortlisted for the 2015 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Additionally, she edited the anthology Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets (Shearsman, 2010). She also publishes short stories, reviews and the occasional essay.
Emma Harding is a BBC Radio Drama and Features producer, whose recent work includes Radio 4 dramatisations of Dante’s The Divine Comedy and Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. She regularly works with poets on dramas, documentaries and radio poems. Emma has said:
“I’m very honoured to have been asked to judge this year’s Forward Prize for Poetry. As a BBC radio producer, I’m proud of the long and fruitful relationship between poetry and radio, and I’m passionate about poetry’s place in our wider culture. As Robert Frost put it, “Poetry is a way of taking life by the throat” and I can’t wait to find those poems that do just that.”
Warsan Shire showed her first poem to her father at the age of 11, won an international poetry slam at 16, and published her first pamphlet, teaching my mother how to give birth (flipped eye) in 2011 aged just 22. In 2013 she not only won the first Brunel University African Poetry Prize, but was also named the inaugural Young Poet Laureate of London. She was published in the Winter 2012 issue of The Poetry Review, and has new poems in the anthology Ten: the new wave, published by Bloodaxe in 2014. Born in Kenya to Somali parents, she currently lives in London.