Forward Poetry Shortlists: African, Asian, US, British, Caribbean, and Irish Poets

In News by Porter Anderson

With £16,000 (US$20,338) in prize money, Forward’s poetry awards honor single poems and collections, from new and familiar poets.


By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Represented: UK, Ireland, Caribbean, Asia, Africa, US

The three shortlists for the UK-based Forward Prizes for Poetry have been announced in London on Monday (June 12) and they highlight the work of a range of international poets.

Here are the shortlisted writers by category, their works, their publishers, and their geographical locations:

The 2017 Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000, or US$12,731)

  • Nuar Alsadir – Fourth Person Singular (Liverpool University Press), USA
  • Tara Bergin – The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx (Carcanet), Ireland
  • Emily Berry – Stranger, Baby (Faber & Faber), UK
  • Michael Longley – Angel Hill (Cape Poetry), Ireland
  • Sinead Morrissey – On Balance (Carcanet), Ireland

The 2017 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000, or US$6,366)

  • Maria Apichella – Psalmody (Eyewear Publishing), UK
  • Richard Georges – Make Us All Islands (Shearsman Books), Trinidad
  • Eric Langley – Raking Light (Carcanet), UK
  • Nick Makoha – Kingdom of Gravity (Peepal Tree Press), Uganda
  • Ocean Vuong – Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Cape Poetry), Vietnam, US

The 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000, or US$1,273)

  • Malika Booker – Nine Nights (Poetry Review), UK
  • Mary Jean Chan – // (Ambit), Hong Kong
  • Harmony Holiday – The City Admits no Wrongdoing (Prac Crit), USA
  • Ishion Hutchinson – Nightfall, Jane Ash Corner, St. Thomas (The Well Review), Jamaica
  • Ian Patterson – The Plenty of Nothing (PN Review), UK

The Forward awards honor new poetry published in the British Isles, and are open to the work of both established and emerging writers.

Andrew Marr is chair of this year’s jury. Formerly a BBC political editor and an editor with The Independent, he hosts BBC 1’s Andrew Marr Show, and is the author of We British: The Poetry of a People.

In a prepared statement, Marr is quoted, saying:

Andrew Marr

“Reading so many collections of poems over a relatively short period gives one an intense and useful overview of the condition of poetry in English now.”Though an enthusiastic reader of poetry all my life, I had had no idea of the variety of the delights and provocations lying all around me.

“I came away more than ever convinced that if you read journalism alone, or history alone, and you omit contemporary poetry, then you cannot properly understand the world you live in.”

The jury read a total 186 new collections and 212 single poems. In addition to Marr, the group comprises poets Ian Duhig and Mona Arshi; former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell; and writer and academic
Sandeep Parmar.

Also quoted is Forward Arts Foundation director Susannah Herbert, who says, “This is a bold shortlist, full of new names, which take the wider world for their inspiration rather than sticking to territory marked safe for poetry. These are poems that demand and reward close attention from all the senses.”

The prizes’ sponsor is Bookmark, and additional support comes from Arts Council England, the Esmee Fairborn Foundation, the Rothschild Foundation, and the late Felix Dennis.

The Forward Arts Foundation was established in 1991 by William Sieghart, founder of the publisher Forward Worldwide, which now is Bookmark.

The awards are to be presented at London’s Royal Festival Hall on September 21, and a Forward Book of Poetry–the 26th such volume of the judges’ choices of poems–is to feature readings from all the shortlisted books.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. Prior to that he was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, a channel at The Bookseller focused on digital publishing. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.