Raymond Antrobus has made the shortlist for the Forward Prizes for Poetry with this year's nominees including poems "that play havoc with the boundaries of literature, combining formal ambition and emotional charge" recognised
Rathbones Folio prize winner Antrobus is up for the £5,000 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection with The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins) alongside Jay Bernard's Surge (Chatto & Windus), David Cain's Truth Street (Smokestack Books) with Isabel Galleymore's Significant Other (Carcanet) and If All the World and Love Were Young by Stephen Sexton (Penguin Books) making up the shortlist.
Five poets have been shortlists for the £10,000 Forward Prize for Best Collection. Fiona Benson's Vertigo & Ghost (Cape Poetry) is up against Niall Campbell's Noctuary (Bloodaxe Books) with Ilya Kaminsky's Deaf Republic (Faber & Faber), Vidyan Ravinthiran's The Million-petalled Flowers of Being Here (Bloodaxe Books) and Helen Tookey's City of Departures (Carcanet) also recognised.
Competing for the £1,000 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem are Liz Berry with Highbury Park (Wild Court), Mary Jean Chan's The Window (National Poetry Competition), Jonathan Edwards' Bridge (The Frogmore Papers) alongside Parwana Fayyaz's Forty Names (PN Review) and Holly Pester's Comic Timing (Granta Magazine).
The shortlisted collections
Susannah Herbert, director of the Forward Arts Foundation, the charity which runs the Forward Prizes, said: "The sharply rising sales figures of the past five years show poetry reaching audiences in ways that are the envy of other genres. As if in response, this year's crop of best new collections reflect fresh confidence among both publishers and poets: while straying onto territory of film-makers, historians and dramatists, they position poetry as the most capacious, lively and communicative of contemporary arts."
Chair of the 2019 jury, broadcaster and academic Shahidha Bari, said: "What stood out was a playfulness and willingness to experiment with genre. Some of the work we've selected will look like poetry, sound like poetry, but it could also fall into the categories of other forms: there are lots of prose poems too. And we were surprised at how blurred the boundary between poetry and drama has become. Perhaps that shouldn't be surprising as we have such a rich tradition of performance poetry in this country, but this is a different development. It's been so thrilling in the last few years watching the boom in poetry, the great affection for poetry, the passion for poetry. That's given people who both read and teach poetry a great deal of comfort, inspiration and hope."
The awards will be presented at a special event at Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall on Sunday 20th October, featuring readings from all the shortlisted books, and closing Southbank Centre's Poetry International festival. The judges' selection of shortlisted and highly commended poems will be published on 5 September 2019 as the annual Forward Book of Poetry 2020 (Faber).
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