Forward prizes for poetry

Key facts

Genres / categories

Literary fiction & poetry

Prize money: £10,000/£5,000/£1,000

Key dates

Winner(s) announced: 18/09/2018

The Forward Prizes for Poetry are the most coveted awards for poetry published in Britain and Ireland: they have played an key role in bringing contemporary poetry to the attention of the wider public for quarter of a century.

They were set up in 1991 by philanthropist William Sieghart to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience, and are awarded to published poets for work in print in the last year.

The three prizes – £10,000 for Best Collection, £5,000 for Best First Collection and £1,000 for Best Single Poem – are unique in honouring both the work of established poets and the debuts of brilliant unknowns. Past Forward Prizes winners include Claudia Rankine, Thom Gunn, Seamus Heaney, Alice Oswald, Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy and Kathleen Jamie.

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

The 2018 shortlist is:

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 – And death demands a labor (PN Review)
Jorie Graham – Tree (LRB)
Will Harris – SAY (The Poetry Review)