Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize for second collections – shortlist announced

Clockwise: Judy Brown, John Clegg, Emma Hammond, Sam Riviere, Sandeep Parmar, John McCullough

The shortlist for the £5000 Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize for second poetry collections, the first of its kind in the UK dedicated to poets’ second collections, has been selected by judges Vahni Capildeo and Tara Bergin. The biennial Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize is a response to poetry’s increasing emphasis on debuts and seeks to shine a light on poets’ more accomplished, though often overlooked second collections, which can be poetry’s version of ‘the difficult second album’.

Poetry Society Member Judy Brown is included on the shortlist:

Judy Brown – Crowd Sensations (Seren)
John Clegg – Holy Toledo! (Carcanet)
Emma Hammond – The Story of No (Penned in the Margins)
John McCullough – Spacecraft (Penned in the Margins)
Sandeep Parmar – Eidolon (Shearsman Books)
Sam Riviere – Kim Kardashian’s Marriage (Faber & Faber)

Judge and 2016 Forward Prize winner Vahni Capildeo, says ‘the shortlisted writers expanded my horizons. In re-reading, even more than first reading these collections, I was repeatedly taken out of myself, asking: Can language do this? Can imagination go there? How might the next poem, and the next, invite readers to be transformed? Each of these publications made me rethink what a book, or collection, of poetry can be. How do changes in the way we experience life and process information, via new technologies and twenty-first century predicaments, mesh (or not) with older (dare one say ‘universal’, or least widespread and widely-understood) modes of appreciation and expression? And what does it mean to reward a second collection? These writers are ethical word-wizards whose already astonishing poetry I want to endorse because I believe in its process of becoming’.

Poet and judge Tara Bergin says of the six titles on the shortlist that ‘every one of the writers shortlisted here strikes me as a ‘serious writer’ in the sense that John Berryman defined that term: ‘something of an inquisitor’, who encourages the reader to put to themselves the same questions about life that the author has put to him or herself.’

The Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize shortlist is entirely made up of collections published by independent publishing houses, including small presses. Chloe Garner, Artistic Director of Ledbury Poetry Festival notes that ‘this perhaps reflects the particular commitment of independent publishers to nurturing poets beyond their debuts and to supporting poets who take risks with their work, pushing their themes, style and language into new and exciting territories’. Garner adds, ‘fundamentally this prize is about bringing poets to readers and the range and quality of this shortlist means each book is a dazzling read.’

Read more

12 June 2017