Posted: 7 October 2010
Seamus Heaney wins The Forward Prize for Best Collection for the first time with his twelfth collection Human Chain, 44 years after the publication of his first book of poems.
Hilary Menos wins The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection for her debut collection, Berg.
Julia Copus wins the prize for Best Single Poem with ‘An Easy Passage'
This is the first time that Seamus Heaney, 71, has won the Forward Prize for Best Collection. One of the leading and most admired poets of his generation, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. He published his first collection, Death of a Naturalist, in 1966. Seamus Heaney has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection twice before, in 1996 for The Spirit Level, and in 2006 for District and Circle. He has also been shortlisted twice for the Best Single Poem category. Human Chain, published by Faber & Faber, is his first collection since 2006.
Hilary Menos, 45, has won The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, worth £5,000, for her first collection Berg, published by Seren. Berg is a diverse and witty collection in which icebergs float down the Thames, and aliens wade in the Hudson River. Hilary Menos has previously won or been placed in numerous competitions including the Mslexia Poetry Competition, BBC Wildlife Magazine Poet of the Year, the Buxton Poetry Competition and the Envoi Poetry Competition. She published a pamphlet, Extra Maths, in 2004.
Julia Copus, 41, has won The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, worth £1,000, with 'An Easy Passage', published by Magma. Julia Copus's debut collection The Shuttered Eye was shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in 1996. In 2002 she won the National Poetry Competition with her poem, 'Breaking the Rule', and in 2003 she published her second collection, In Defence of Adultery.
Chair of judges, poet and author Ruth Padel comments:
"This was an astonishingly strong year for poetry and the judges enjoyed deliberating each of the categories. The decision was not easy.
"Seamus Heaney's Human Chain is a collection of painful, honest, and delicately weighted poems. It is a wonderful and humane achievement.
"For Best First Collection we chose Hilary Menos's Berg. We loved its wit, range and strength, the way that each poem is a complete world in itself, and moves you out to strange places. The poems are contemporary, varied and highly imaginative.
"In the Best Single Poem category, we chose Julia Copus's poem 'An Easy Passage' for its unsettling strangeness, the shifts of perspective and confident line."
The other Forward judges for 2010 are poet and columnist Hugo Williams, performance poet Dreadlockalien, journalist and broadcaster Alex Clark, and award-winning actress and director Fiona Shaw.
William Sieghart, Chairman of the Forward Arts Foundation, comments:
"An exciting year for poetry and by all accounts a difficult year to judge, but I am thrilled that Seamus Heaney has won this year's prize for the first time. The prize continues to support new writers, and I hope that debut poet Hilary Menos will have many more years of success ahead of her. I also congratulate former shortlisted poet Julia Copus. My thanks to this year's judges for their hard work and support for the Prizes. "
The Forward Prizes were founded by William Sieghart in 1992 to raise the profile of contemporary poetry and are sponsored by The Forward Group. Worth a total of £16,000, the Forward Prizes reward both established and up-and-coming poets.
The winners of the Forward Prizes were announced on Wednesday 6th October, the eve of National Poetry Day, at a ceremony in Somerset House, London.
The Forward Prize for Best Collection
£10,000 - sponsored by the Forward Arts Foundation
Seamus Heaney Human Chain (Faber & Faber)
Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 in County Derry, Northern Ireland. His first collection, Death of a Naturalist, was published in 1966, and since then he has published poetry, criticism and translations. He is seen as one of the leading poets of his generation. He has twice won the Whitbread Book of the Year, for The Spirit Level (1996) and Beowulf (1999). In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature and in 1996 he was made a Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1996.
The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection
£5,000 - sponsored by Felix Dennis and the Forward Arts Foundation
Hilary Menos Berg (Seren)
Hilary Menos was born in 1964 in Luton. She graduated from Wadham College, Oxford and went on to work as a food journalist and restaurant critic in London before moving to Devon where she is owner and partner of Beenleigh Manor Devon Organics (a small mixed organic farm in Devon). She has won the Envoi International Poetry Competition in 2002, was one of five first stage winners of The Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition 2004, and won prizes in the Mslexia Poetry competition and the BBC Wildlife Poet of the Year Competition in 2006.
The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in memory of Michael Donaghy
£1,000 - sponsored by the Forward Arts Foundation
Julia Copus An Easy Passage (Magma)
Julia Copus was born in London in 1969. She won an Eric Gregory Award in 1994 and in the same year published a pamphlet, Walking in the Shadows, which was also a winner in the Poetry Business competition. In 2002 she won the National Poetry Competition with her poem, Breaking the Rule. From 2005-2008, she was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Exeter University, and in January 2007, Poet in Residence at The Guardian. Her two collections of poetry, The Shuttered Eye (1995) and In Defence of Adultery (2003), were both Poetry Book Society Recommendations, and the former was shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection in 1996.
Source: Colman Getty