Poetry collections from Emily Berry, Michael Longley and Sinead Morrissey feature on the "bold" shortlists for the 2017 Forward Prizes for Poetry, which celebrate the best new poetry published in the British Isles.
The prizes honour both established poets and emerging writers with three distinct awards: Best Collection, Best First Collection and Best Single Poem. Subjects treated in the shortlisted works include exile, lost parents, barnacle geese, sexual confessions, political satire, a daredevil female aviator, nativity plays, sunken slave ships, psychoanalysis, the library of Alexandria and wars in Vietnam and Uganda.
Shortlisted for the £10,000 2017 Forward Prize for Best Collection are Nuar Alsadir's Fourth Person Singular (Liverpool University Press), Tara Bergin for The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx (Carcanet), Emily Berry for Stranger, Baby (Faber & Faber), Michael Longley's Angel Hill (Cape Poetry) and Sinead Morrissey's On Balance (Carcanet)
Up for the £5,000 2017 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection are Maria Apichella's Psalmody (Eyewear Publishing), Richard Georges for Make Us All Islands (Shearsman Books), Eric Langley's Raking Light (Carcanet), Nick Makoha for Kingdom of Gravity (Peepal Tree Press), and Ocean Vuong for Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Cape Poetry).
Shortlisted for the £1,000 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem are Malika Booker for "Nine Nights" (Poetry Review), Mary Jean Chan's "//" (Ambit), Harmony Holiday's "The City Admits no Wrongdoing" (Prac Crit), Ishion Hutchinson for "Nightfall, Jane Ash Corner, St. Thomas (The Well Review) and Ian Patterson's "The Plenty of Nothing" (PN Review).
Andrew Marr, chair of the 2017 Forward Prizes jury, said: “Reading so many collections of poems over a relatively short period gives one an intense and useful overview of the condition of poetry in English now. Though an enthusiastic reader of poetry all my life, I had had no idea of the variety of the delights and provocations lying all around me. I came away more than ever convinced that if you read journalism alone, or history alone, and you omit contemporary poetry, then you cannot properly understand the world you live in.”
Susannah Herbert, director of the Forward Arts Foundation which runs the Forward Prizes for Poetry, said: “These are bold shortlists, full of new names, which take the wider world for their inspiration rather than sticking to territory marked safe for poetry. These are poems that demand and reward close attention from all the senses.”
The 2017 judging panel is chaired by journalist and broadcaster Marr, poets Ian Duhig and Mona Arshi, former Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell and writer and academic Sandeep Parmar. The jury read 186 new collections and 212 single poems.
The awards, which are sponsored by Bookmark Content, will be presented at a special event at the Royal Festival Hall on Thursday 21st September, featuring readings from all the shortlisted books. The 26th annual Forward Book of Poetry, containing the judges’ choice of the year’s poems will be launched on the same day.