Bidisha to chair Forward Prizes for Poetry

Bidisha to chair Forward Prizes for Poetry

The writer and broadcaster Bidisha will chair the jury of the Forward Prizes for Poetry.

She will be joined by poets Mimi Khalvati, Niall Campbell, as well as director of the National Poetry Library, Chris McCabe, and Jen Campbell, author and vlogger. The jury will decide the contents of the 27th annual Forward Book of Poetry, published in September 2018.

Past winners of the Forward Prizes for Poetry include Seamus Heaney, Alice Oswald, Ted Hughes and last year’s awards went to Sinéad Morrissey, Ian Patterson and Ocean Vuong, who recently triumphed at the T S Eliot Prize. 

Awards are made in three categories for poetry published between October 2017 and September 2018. The three prizes – £10,000 for Best Collection, £5,000 for Best First Collection and £1,000 for Best Single Poem – and organisers described them as “unique” in honouring both established names and new voices. They have been sponsored since 1992 by the content marketing agency, Bookmark, which traded until 2016 as Forward Worldwide.

“The poetic community of today is borderless, open and buzzing with international voices,” Bidisha said. “As a passionate poetry reader, critic and writer I am delighted to be working in an age when it's undoubtedly having a moment and so many brilliant poets, both emerging and longstanding, are being heard.”

The writer revealed she looks forward “to seeing the winners rising to ever greater national and international prominence, and artistic brilliance, in the years that follow” their prize wins. She said: “The prizes are invaluable in finding the most essential, exciting voices, highlighting the contemporary poets who are at the top of their game and whose words will travel far and reach many readers.”

As well as being an author and journalist, Bidisha is also a film-maker and broadcaster who appears on BBC radio and Sky News. She signed her first book deal aged 16 and had her second novel was published at 21. Asylum and Exile: Hidden Voices of London, was published by Chicago University Press in 2015.

Susannah Herbert, executive director of the Forward Arts Foundation, said: “This year’s Forward Prizes’ judges are hungry to discover new poems and to share their discoveries through the awards and the anthology. Their collective experience of communicating what’s special about contemporary poetry will bring new readers to the works they champion.”