Oxford professor of poetry Geoffrey Hill will compete against former winners David Harsent and Sean O’Brien to win the Forward poetry prize for best collection.
The Best Collection prize, celebrating its 20th anniversary, is worth £10,000 and O’Brien has won it three times previously. One of the last published works of R F Langley, who died at the beginning of this year, is up for the £1,000 Best Single Poem award for To A Nightingale and Jo Shapcott, winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award, is also shortlisted under this category for Bees.
Chair of judges, former poet laureate Andrew Motion said: “The Forward Prizes, in their 20th year, have once again been able to provide an account of the last year’s poetry publishing, which is both confirming and liberating. We’re very proud of the three shortlists, which contain some well-known names and also names which will be new to most readers.
"Clever, moving, of the moment, and also taking the long view, they combine all the paradoxes good poetry should contain. Read them all!”
The winners of the Forward Prizes will be presented on 5th October, the eve of National Poetry Day. To mark the prize’s 20th anniversary, an anthology Poems of the Decade will be published on 6th October.
The Forward Book of Poetry 2012, an anthology of poems from this year’s prizes, will also be published on the same day.
The shortlists in full:
The Forward Prize for Best Collection - £10,000
John Burnside Black Cat Bone (Jonathan Cape)
David Harsent Night (Faber)
Geoffrey Hill Clavics (Enitharmon)
Michael Longley A Hundred Doors (Jonathan Cape)
D Nurkse Voices Over Water (CB Editions)
Sean O’Brien November (Picador Poetry)
The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection - £5,000
Rachael Boast Sidereal (Picador Poetry)
Judy Brown Loudness (Seren)
Nancy Gaffield Tokaido Road (CB Editions)
Ahren Warner Confer (Bloodaxe)
John Whale Waterloo Teeth (Northern House)
Nerys Williams Sound Archive (Seren)
The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in memory of Michael Donaghy
R F Langley To a Nightingale (London Review of Books)
Alan Jenkins Southern Rail (The Four Students) (Poetry Review)
Sharon Olds Song the Breasts Sing to the Late-in-Life Boyfriend (Poetry London)
Jo Shapcott Bees (Poetry Review)