Jamaica-born Claudia Rankine has won the £10,000 Forward Prize for the Best Poetry Collection.
Rankine’s collection Citizen: An American Lyric, published by Penguin, took the prize at an award ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall in London last night (28th September) after being described by the judges as a “powerful book for our time”.
Rankine's collection features extracts from documentary film scripts, an essay on Venus Williams and screen grabs of Zinedine Zidane’s 2006 World Cup head-butt, President Obama’s oath of office and witness testimony to acts of everyday racism.
The award ceremony was attended by poets reading from the shortlisted collections and introduced by a musical performance by Cerys Matthews.
AL Kennedy, chair of the five-strong jury of judges, said of Rankine’s work: “This is writing we can recommend with real urgency and joy. It’s a stylistically daring poetic project about the dehumanization of those deemed outsiders - we found it exhilarating and genuinely transformative.”
London-born author Mona Arshi’s collection Small Hands, published by Liverpool University Press, won the £5,000 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection. Meanwhile, Clare Harman’s “The Mighty Hudson”, published by TLS, won the £1,000 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem for “its inventiveness and wit”.
All shortlisted poets are included in the 24th annual Forward Book of Poetry, published by Forward Worldwide/Faber & Faber, which also contains 50 poems highly recommended by the judges.