Forward Prize for Poetry Best First Collection

Forward Prizes for Poetry are the most influential awards for new poetry in the UK and Ireland, honouring fresh voices alongside internationally established names. There are three prizes: The Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000), The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000) and The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000). They are accompanied by the Forward Book of Poetry, an annual anthology which brings together the best new work published in the UK and Ireland. The Forward Prizes are joined by the Creative Critics’ competition, where 16-19 year olds write poems in response to work shortlisted for the Prizes. Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books has been an A level English set text since 2014.

WINNER 2023

Bad diaspora poems

Mehri, Momtaza ISBN: 9781787334373
Hardback

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The definition of diaspora is the dispersion of people from their original homeland. But what does it mean to write diaspora poetry? Momtaza Mehri's debut collection poses this question, taking us from Mogadishu to Naples, Lampedusa to London. Mixing her own family's experience with the stories of many others across nineteenth- and twentieth-century Somalia, Bad Diaspora Poems confronts the ambivalent nature of speaking for those who have been left behind. We meet the poet, the translator, the refugee, the exile, and the diaspora kid attempting to transcend their cliched angst. Told in lyric, prose and text messages, and taking place in living rooms and marketplaces, on buses and balconies, on transatlantic journeys and online, these are essential poems about our diasporic age.

- Browns Books Synopsis

SHORTLIST 2023

Dickey, Susannah ISBN: 9781035015054
Paperback / softback

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Evans, Rowan ISBN: 9781526651228
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Kinshasa, Safiya Kamaria ISBN: 9781739902124
Paperback / softback

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Mehri, Momtaza ISBN: 9781787334373
Hardback

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Walker, Kandace Siobhan ISBN: 9781800818149
Paperback / softback

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We know that the year – and more – of the pandemic was also the year of reading. And that means poetry as well as prose. It was a time when everyone was reminded how much we need to be exposed to the power of the imagination. And the short lists for the Forward Prizes 2021 are a reminder that the poetic imagination isn’t wholly introspective, although it cuts deep. It’s bold, limitless in ambition and it touches every part of our lives – our own hopes and fears, our communities, and the wider world that so often seems bewildering and over-powering. These poets find pathways into the deepest feelings and discover vantage points that take a reader (or a listener) to another place. In their hands we look at the world differently. This is a moment for poetry; and all these poets deliver. Read them, and take off.

- James Naughtie, The chair of the 2021 Forward Prizes jury