Seven titles from independent publishers are in the running for the inaugural £5,000 Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize, which celebrates second poetry collections.
Shortlisted are Judy Brown's Crowd Sensations (Seren), John Clegg for Holy Toledo! (Carcanet), The Story of No by Emma Hammond (Penned in the Margins), John McCullough's Spacecraft (Penned in the Margins), Eidolon by Sandeep Parmar (Shearsman Books), and Sam Riviere for Kim Kardashian’s Marriage (Faber & Faber).
The biennial Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize is a response to poetry’s "increasing emphasis on debuts" and seeks to "shine a light on poets’ more accomplished, though often overlooked second collections, which can be poetry’s version of the difficult second album", organisers said.
Judge and 2016 Forward Prize winner Vahni Capildeo, said: "The shortlisted writers expanded my horizons. In re-reading, even more than first reading these collections, I was repeatedly taken out of myself, asking: Can language do this? Can imagination go there? How might the next poem, and the next, invite readers to be transformed? Each of these publications made me rethink what a book, or collection, of poetry can be. These writers are ethical word-wizards whose already astonishing poetry I want to endorse because I believe in its process of becoming."
Poet and judge Tara Bergin added: "Every one of the writers shortlisted here strikes me as a ‘serious writer’ in the sense that John Berryman defined that term: ‘something of an inquisitor’, who encourages the reader to put to themselves the same questions about life that the author has put to him or herself."
Discussing the domination of independent publishers on the shortlist, Chloe Garner, artistic director of Ledbury Poetry Festival said: "This perhaps reflects the particular commitment of independent publishers to nurturing poets beyond their debuts and to supporting poets who take risks with their work, pushing their themes, style and language into new and exciting territories".
Garner said: "Fundamentally this prize is about bringing poets to readers and the range and quality of this shortlist means each book is a dazzling read."
The winner of the £5,000 Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize will be announced at the launch this year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival, on Friday 30th June 2017 at 4.30pm. The Ledbury Forte Prize has been launched in 2017 to mark the 21st anniversary of the UK’s biggest poetry festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, which takes place between 30th June to 9th July this year.