2015 Forward Poetry Prize Winners Announced
29th September 2015
Jamaica-born Claudia Rankine has won the 2015 Forward Poetry Prize for best collection for Citizen: An American Lyric. It had already won the National Book Critics Circle award in the US. A L Kennedy, chair of the five-strong jury, said: “This is writing we can recommend with real urgency and joy. It’s a stylistically daring poetic project about the dehumanization of those deemed outsiders – we found it exhilarating and genuinely transformative.” Also described as a ‘lyric essay’, the book features extracts from documentary film scripts, an essay on Venus Williams, screen grabs of Zinedine Zidane’s 2006 World Cup head-butt, President Obama’s oath of office, JMW Turner’s painting The Slave Ship and witness testimony to acts of everyday racism.
Best First Collection prize went to Mona Arshi for Small Hands. London-born Arshi, who spent ten years as a human-rights lawyer, drew on both her legal experience and her Punjabi Sikh heritage for her debut collection, which the jury praised for its “imagination, sensuality and beguiling playfulness”.
Best single poem was awarded to Claire Harman, for “The Mighty Hudson”, first published in the TLS. The poem, a biographical sketch of a strongman who over-reaches himself spectacularly, delighted the judges with its “inventiveness and wit”.
You can see interviews with the winners here.