Broadcaster James Naughtie will chair the 30th Forward Prizes jury where he will be joined by Leontia Flynn, Pascale Petit and Shivanee Ramlochan alongside critic Tristram Fane Saunders.
The awards, worth a total of £16,000, are sponsored by Bookmark and are run by the Forward Arts Foundation. They comprise the £10,000 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the £5,000 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection and the £1,000 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.
Naughtie said: “Poetry matters. We know that our best poets get into our lives and the world around us better than anyone else. What more challenging backdrop could there be for the 30th anniversary of the Forward Prize than our disordered state? Whatever they say they're writing about, I know some poets will describe and explain it like no one else can. I can't wait to read this year's poems.”
The judges’ selection of shortlisted and highly commended poems will be published on 16th September 2021 in the 30th annual Forward Book of Poetry.
Ramlochan, a former Forward Prize shortlistee and one of three poets on the 2021 jury, said: “Being a shortlistee in 2018 was more than a dream come true: it signified the opening of several doors — wider recognition for my work, fellowship among extraordinary poets, and a vital, generous UK cultural and literary community. The Forward Prizes celebrate good writing, but more than that, they expand the definition of why poetry matters, and to whom — a national endeavour with international hopes. I'm honoured to serve the Forward Prizes in this new way, and delighted to see what the next 30 years hold.”
This year, the Forward Prizes for Poetry will also be celebrating its anniversary with a new anthology, Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry 2011–2020. Gathering 100 poems by writers and performers who have drawn new audiences to the artform, it highlights poetry “as a space for fresh powerful language, feeling and thought”.