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Forward Prizes 2018 shortlist announced

The 15 poets shortlisted for the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2018 have been announced. 

This year’s judging panel is chaired by writer, critic, broadcaster and film-maker Bidisha. It includes poets Mimi Khalvati, Chris McCabe (our own Poetry Librarian), Niall Campbell, and vlogger, poet and author Jen Campbell.

Vahni Capildeo, who won the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2016, is in the running for the £10,000 award again with Venus as a Bear, a collection partly inspired by her visits to Oxford's Ashmolean museum, and trips to Iceland and Puerto Rico. Also up for the main prize are two poets from across the pond, American performance poet Danez Smith and US Poet Laureate Tracy K Smith.

The Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000)

Vahni Capildeo – Venus as a Bear (Carcanet)
J. O. Morgan – Assurances (Cape Poetry)
Toby Martinez de las Rivas – Black Sun (Faber & Faber)
Danez Smith – Don’t Call Us Dead (Chatto & Windus)
Tracy K. Smith – Wade in the Water (Penguin UK)

The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000)

Kaveh Akbar – Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Penguin UK)
Abigail Parry – Jinx (Bloodaxe Books)
Phoebe Power – Shrines of Upper Austria (Carcanet)
Shivanee Ramlochan – Everyone Knows I Am a Haunting (Peepal Tree Press)
Richard Scott – Soho (Faber & Faber)

The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000)

Fiona Benson – Ruins (Wild Court)
Liz Berry – The Republic of Motherhood (Granta)
Sumita Chakraborty – A death demands a labor (PN Review)
Jorie Graham – Tree (LRB)
Will Harris – SAY (The Poetry Review)


In reading for this year’s Forward Prizes, the other judges and I discovered an art form that is in roaring health. We read countless collections full of wonder and possibility, light but not trivial, serious but not depressing, lushly emotional but not sentimental, frequently witty and capable of great craft and zingy modernity. Our shortlists represent the stunning variety and breadth of poetry today, with contemporary international voices that are urgent, engaged and inspirational.
Bidisha, jury chair

The 27th annual Forward Prizes will be awarded on 18 September 2018 at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. See the nation’s most coveted poetry prizes awarded live on stage by the chair of the jury Bidisha and hear readings from the 15 poets shortlisted.

Book your ticket to the ceremony