Emerging artists on shortlist for most valuable poetry prize

Higher than usual number of new and nascent poets in the running for Forward award

Iambic pentameters, hexameters and trochees have been drawn. Britain's most valuable poetry prize today releases its shortlist, featuring a higher than usual number of new and emerging poets.

Poems published by specialist presses are also well represented in the Forward poetry prize list, on which women outnumber men for the first time since 1999.

Judges chose six poets from 133 collections they considered for the £10,000 best collection prize, including the prolific Sujata Bhatt, whose poem Search for my Tongue will be familiar to many GCSE English students.

Her collection Pure Lizard is shortlisted, as is that of another familiar name, Jamie McKendrick, who won the prize in 1997 and is on the list for his fifth collection, Crocodiles and Obelisks.

Lovers of poetry with longer memories may recall Mick Imlah, who published his first collection in 1988 and waited 20 years to follow it up this year with The Lost Leader.

Well known in poetry circles, Imlah's new poems have been much praised, with the Guardian review saying the volume "has an overall coherence, strength and emotional depth seldom encountered in modern poetry collections".

They are up against three poets from the up and coming generation: Catherine Smith, a creative writing tutor at Sussex University, for Lip; Jane Griffiths, an English lecturer at Bristol University, for Another Country; and Jen Hadfield, who lives in Shetland working as a poet, tutor, artist and occasional shop assistant, who is shortlisted for her second collection Nigh-No-Place, which she wrote in Canada.

The prize for the best single poem will be fought out by six poets, including Seamus Heaney - still yet to win anything in the prize's 17-year history - who is shortlisted for Cutaways. The others are Christopher Buehlman for Wanton; Catherine Ormell for Campaign Desk, December 1812; Don Paterson for Love Poem for Natalie 'Tusja' Beridze, Kate Rhodes for Wells-next-the-Sea, and Tim Turnbull for Ode on a Grayson Perry Urn.

The £5,000 prize for best first collection will be decided between Simon Barraclough for Los Alamos Mon Amour, Andrew Forster for Fear of Thunder, Frances Leviston for Public Dream, Allison McVety for The Night Trotsky Came to Stay, Stephanie Norgate for Hidden River and Kathryn Simmonds for Sunday at the Skin Launderette.

William Sieghart, founder of the awards and chairman of the Forward Arts Foundation, said it was an exciting year for stars of the future as well as poets who deserved more exposure.

He added: "It's thrilling to see a huge presence of specialist presses who are offering a platform for poets with exceptional futures." The winners will be announced on October 8.


Mark Brown, arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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