Andrew Marr to chair 2017 Forward Prizes

Andrew Marr to chair 2017 Forward Prizes

Journalist and broadcaster Andrew Marr is chairing the jury for the 2017 Forward Prizes for Poetry, which will be awarded at the Royal Festival Hall on 21st September 2017.

Marr will head a panel of judges, also including Children's Laureate Chris Riddell and poets Sandeep Parmar, Mona Arshi and Ian Duhig.

Together they will judge across three categories - £10,000 for Best Collection, £5,000 for Best First Collection and £1,000 for Best Single Poem - to honour both established names and new voices. They will also be choosing poems to feature in the 26th annual Forward Book of Poetry, published on the eve of the prizes in September.

Commenting on his role, Marr hailed the period we are living in as a "particularly rich" age for poetry. As The Bookseller reported in October, the sector is exprienced its highest annual sales since Nielsen records began last year, surpassing £10m.

Marr said: "After a quarter of a century, the Forward Prizes for Poetry have established themselves as central to the literary landscape of modern Britain - a benevolent act of imagination which has paid off richly – and I am thrilled to be chairing the 2017 awards.

"Of all the arts, poetry is the one at which the British have traditionally excelled most. Across these isles, we are living through a period particularly rich in poetry-making. Barely a week goes past when I'm not introduced to a poet or a poem which makes me see the world a little differently and with all the political turbulence around, I can't wait to get stuck in to some more rigorous reading.

"With my fellow jurors - the artist Chris Riddell, the scholar Sandeep Parmar and the poets Mona Arshi and Ian Duhig - we will be looking for newly published poems that offer a vital counterbalance to the crude slogans, sound bites and tired metaphors of public life, poems that rub the dull tarnish from our language and make it new."

Susannah Herbert, executive director of the Forward Arts Foundation, the charity that runs the prizes and co-ordinates National Poetry Day, said: “We’re thrilled to bring together this panel of five sharp readers to judge the awards and nominate poems for inclusion in The Forward Book of Poetry. They bring a mass of experiences to their judging – journalism, art, law, scholarship – and are alive to the power of the best contemporary poetry to reach and move new audiences.”  

In recognition of the growing role played by digital editors and publishers in building interest in new poetry, the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem is now open to online journals and web-only publications (specifically those listed on websites of The Poetry Library, the Scottish Poetry Library and Poetry Ireland) alongside traditional printed poetry magazines.

Chris McCabe from The Poetry Library has invited editors to get in touch so he can list their publications on the organisation's website and encourage new audiences and keen poets to engage.

The awards have been sponsored since 1992 by the content marketing agency, Bookmark, which traded until 2016 as Forward Worldwide.