The Forward Poetry Prize 2008 list has been announced. Congratulations to all those listed. It's a pleasingly open field, this year, with a few fresh faces and unexpected discoveries.
There are a number of categories, including Best Collection, and Best First Collection.
Poets (in no order) Mick Imlah (The Lost Leader), Sujata Bhatt (Pure Lizard), Jen Hadfield (Nigh-No-Place), Catherine Smith (Lip), Jane Griffiths (Another Country) and Jamie McKendrick (Crocodiles and Obelisks) are up for Best Collection. None of these is a clear winner - they're all inventive and worthy - but Eyewear predicts that Imlah will probably win for his major work.
Hadfield, as a fun aside, stayed with my parents for a few days when travelling across Canada to write her collection - a visit still warmly recalled by my family. Bhatt, Smith and McKendrick have all read for the Oxfam Poetry Series, and their work can be found on either Life Lines or Life Lines 2.
The Best First Collection list includes emerging poets Simon Barraclough, Andrew Forster, Frances Leviston, Allison McVety, Stephanie Norgate, and Kathryn Simmonds. Once again, this is too close to call, but Leviston, McVety or Simmonds seem the likely winners in this category, though Barraclough's witty collection is also a strong contender.
Best Poem of the year is likely to go to Seamus Heaney, Don Paterson, or the wildly comic Tim Turnbull - the strongest three of a strong, and inclusive, field.