Forward Prize Finalists Announced

May 30, 2019

Forward Prizes logoThe Forward Arts Foundation announced on Thursday the fifteen finalists shortlisted for the 2019 Forward Prizes. One of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards, the Forward Prizes attract great attention from the general public toward contemporary poets every year. The Forward Prize for Poetry, split into three categories—the year’s best individual poem, best first collection, and best collection—awards £1,000, £5,000, and £10,000, respectively.

Ukrainian-born poet Ilya Kaminsky’s second collection, Deaf Republic (Faber & Faber); Jay Bernard’s debut, Surge (Chatto & Windus), Mary Jean Chan’s poem “The Window” (National Poetry Competition); and Niall Campbell’s Noctuary (Bloodaxe) are only a few of the notable entries among this year’s shortlist.

“What stood out was a playfulness and willingness to experiment with genre,” said chair of this year’s jury, Shahidha Bari. “Some of the work we’ve selected will look like poetry, sound like poetry, but it could also fall into the categories of other forms...And we were surprised at how blurred the boundary between poetry and drama has become. Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising as we have such a rich tradition of performance poetry in this country, but this is a different development. It’s been so thrilling in the last few years watching the boom in poetry, the great affection for poetry, the passion for poetry. That’s given people who both read and teach poetry a great deal of comfort, inspiration and hope.”

Here is the complete shortlist for the 2019 Forward Prizes:

The Forward Prize for Best Collection

Fiona Benson – Vertigo & Ghost (Cape Poetry)
Niall Campbell – Noctuary (Bloodaxe Books)
Ilya Kaminsky – Deaf Republic (Faber & Faber)
Vidyan Ravinthiran – The Million-petalled Flowers of Being Here (Bloodaxe Books)
Helen Tookey - City of Departures (Carcanet)

The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection

Raymond Antrobus – The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins)
Jay Bernard – Surge (Chatto & Windus)
David Cain – Truth Street (Smokestack Books)
Isabel Galleymore – Significant Other (Carcanet)
Stephen Sexton – If All the World and Love Were Young (Penguin Books)

The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem

Liz Berry – “Highbury Park” (Wild Court)
Mary Jean Chan – “The Window” (National Poetry Competition)
Jonathan Edwards – “Bridge” (The Frogmore Papers)
Parwana Fayyaz – “Forty Names” (PN Review)
Holly Pester – “Comic Timing” (Granta)


Image Credit: Forward Arts Foundation

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