Congratulations to Forward Prize winners Fiona Benson, Stephen Sexton and Parwana Fayyaz

L-R: Stephen Sexton (photo: Michael Weir), Fiona Benson, Parwana Fayyaz (photo: Parwana Fayyaz)

Congratulations to Fiona Benson, winner of the £10,000 Forward Prize for Best Collection for her collection Vertigo & Ghost (Cape), described as a retelling of Greek mythology for the #MeToo era. Several of the poems from the collection were first published in The Poetry Review and two, ‘[Zeus] Anatomical Dolls’ and ‘Haruspex’, can be read on The Poetry Society’s website.

You can also hear Fiona Benson interviewed by Emily Berry in a fascinating Poetry Review podcast, in a conversation that encompasses questions of shame, permission and catharsis, the challenges of the sublime, and the influence of writers such as Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds and Lucille Clifton.

Stephen Sexton won The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000) for his debut If All the World and Love Were Young (Penguin) which uses the structure and iconography of Super Nintendo classic Super Mario World as the setting for a pastoral elegy, navigating the poet’s childhood memories of losing a parent.

On our most recent podcast, Stephen Sexton reads from the collection, and discusses its video game source material with Kirsten Irving. Stephen has also previously won The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition in 2016 for his poem ‘The Curfew’. 

You can listen to Stephen and Fiona’s podcasts via our Soundcloud, the embedded audio players above or by searching ‘The Poetry Society’ wherever you listen to your podcasts.

The winner of the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000) was Farwana Fayyaz for ‘Forty Names’, published in PN Review.

The winners were announced at the event at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London’s Southbank Centre, on 20 October.

Congratulations also to the poets who appeared on the shortlists, many of them closely associated with The Poetry Society. Jay Bernard and Raymond Antrobus, both winners of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, were shortlisted for Best First Collection, alongside Review contributor Isabel Galleymore.

In the Best Collection category, the books by Vidyan Ravinthiran, Niall Campbell and Ilya Kaminsky feature poems first published in the Review; fellow shortlistee Helen Tookey is a Review contributor. The Best Single Poem Prize category included Mary Jean Chan’s ‘The Window’, second-prize winner in the National Poetry Competition 2017. Review contributors Liz Berry, Jonathan Edwards and Holly Pester were also shortlisted.

21 October 2019