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From choreo-poetry retellings of Caribbean femininity to rewritings of Othello; with reverberating voices of the past empowering our own; from cowboys to Cambridgeshire carnivals, 20 poets have today been shortlisted for the Forward Prizes for Poetry.

The most coveted and influential prizes for poetry in the UK and Ireland are awarded in four categories: the Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000), the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000), the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem – Written (£1,000), and the inaugural Forward Prize for Best Single Poem – Performed (£1,000).

Renowned for championing new poetic voices and internationally celebrated writers alike, the shortlists announced today (30th June) represent the diverse excellence of contemporary poetry, and all its boundary pushing innovations.

Speaking on this year’s shortlists, Chair for the Best Collection and Best First Collection categories, Bernardine Evaristo, said: “Poetry in the twenty-first century is flourishing like never before with such a broad range of poets writing from different backgrounds. As a jury we found ourselves drawn to poets who were moving poetry forwards in theme or form or both, who offered us emotional depth, imaginative fertility, re-readability and intellectual complexity, and, most importantly, who were writing fresh perspectives.

The ten poets who made the cut, did so in a field of over 230 poets and while it was sometimes heart-breaking to say goodbye to collections we loved, we are incredibly excited to be presenting such an exceptional body of work.”

Best Collection:

Self Portrait as Othello by Jason Allen-Paisant

Bright Fear by Mary Jean Chan

A Change in the Air by Jane Clarke

The Ink Cloud Reader by Kit Fan

My Name is Abilene by Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection:

ISDAL by Susannah Dickey*

A Method, A Path by Rowan Evans

Cane, Corn & Gully by Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa

Bad Diaspora Poems by Momtaza Mehri

Cowboy by Kandace Siobhan Walker*

Best Single Poem – Written:

‘My body tells me that she’s filing for divorce’ by Kathryn Bevis

‘Libation’ by Malika Booker

‘Oh do you know the Flower Man’ by Kizziah Burton

‘The Curse’ by Breda Spaight

‘Fricatives’ by Eric Yip

Best Single Poem – Performed:

‘Human. This Embodied Knowledge’ by Zena Edwards

‘The Cat Prince’ by Michael Pedersen

‘Almost Certainly’ by Bohdan Piasecki

‘The City Kids See the Sea’ by Roger Robinson

‘And our eyes are on Europe’ by Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe

We're delighted to be the official Forward Prize booksellers again with a special bundle offer on all 10 books. The Forward Bundle is available to order here at £110 for non members (RRP £118) and only £82.50 for members. The price includes free UK postage, if you're based outside the UK please email us for an overseas postage quote.

*Please note, we will post out 8 titles by mid July and the 2 asterisked books will follow, as soon as they're available in September.

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