The Forward Prizes took place last night at the Southbank Centre in London, hosted by National Poetry Library's Director Chris McCabe and Bidisha, Chair of the judging panel which included our very own PBS Vlogger Jen Campbell and the poet Mimi Khalvati.
The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem was awarded to Liz Berry for the "Republic of Motherhood" which has since been published as a Chatto pamphlet. Liz described the poem as a "hard one to write but one which I had to find" and dedicated it to all the mothers in that "wild queendom of motherhood".
The £5000 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection was awarded to the recent PBS Recommendation Phoebe Power for her Carcanet collection: Shrines of Upper Austria.
Other debut poets on the first collection shortlist included PBS Recommendation Kaveh Akbar for Calling A Wolf A Wolf , a striking debut addressing addiction recovery.
Shivanee Ramlochan read a haunting poem on the consequences of rape and the inadequacies of the justice system from her collection Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting (Peepal Tree): “Say / he took something he’ll be punished for taking, not something you’re punished for holding / like a red thread between your thighs”
The shortlist for Best Collection included powerful performances from US Poet Laureate Tracey K Smith and former PBS Summer Choice winner Vahni Capildeo.
The overall Forward Prize for Best Collection was awarded to Danez Smith for Don't Call Us Dead (Chatto), which was reviewed in our Summer Bulletin. The 29 year old US poet becomes the youngest ever recipient of the prize. His winning collection explores race and sexuality and features the poem Dear White America, which went viral with over 300,000 views on YouTube.
Danez delivered an absolutely electrifying performance of his poem ‘summer, somewhere’ which invokes the Black Lives Matter movement: "if snow fell, it’d fall black. please, don’t call us dead, call us alive someplace better."
In his acceptance speech, following a standing ovation throughout the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Danez claimed: "We are the reason poetry is not dead... Books are roadmaps and blueprints that we are laying down for the next generation, so they can build a better world than we did".
PBS members can order their copies with their 25% member discount via the links above.