Kayo Chingonyi, Caleb Femi, and Nicole Sealey are the writers of African descent on the shortlists for the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2021 announced on June 8, 2021.
The Forward Prizes for Poetry are awards for poetry, presented annually at a public ceremony in London, UK. They were founded by William Sieghart with the aim of celebrating excellence in poetry and increasing its audience in 1992. Previous winners include Kei Miller, Danez Smith, and Claudia Rankine, and Malika Booker.
There are three prizes on offer: The Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000), The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000) and The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000). They are accompanied by the Forward Book of Poetry, an annual anthology which brings together the best new work published in the UK and Ireland.
The Judges for the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2021 are Broadcaster, journalist and writer James Naughtie, who will chair the panel. He is joined by poets Leontia Flynn, Pascale Petit and Shivanee Ramlochan and by poetry critic Tristram Fane Saunders.
The writers of African descent in the running in the three categories are;
Forward Prize for Best Collection 2021 (£10,000)
- Kayo Chingonyi, A Blood Condition (Chatto and Windus)
Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection 2021 (£5,000)
- Caleb Femi, Poor (Penguin Poetry)
Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2021 (£1,000)
- Nicole Sealey, ‘Pages 22-29, An excerpt from The Ferguson Report: An Erasure’(Poetry London)
James Naughtie, chair of the 2021 Forward Prizes jury said, “‘We know that the year – and more – of the pandemic was also the year of reading. And that means poetry as well as prose. It was a time when everyone was reminded how much we need to be exposed to the power of the imagination. And the short lists for the Forward Prizes 2021 are a reminder that the poetic imagination isn’t wholly introspective, although it cuts deep. It’s bold, limitless in ambition and it touches every part of our lives – our own hopes and fears, our communities, and the wider world that so often seems bewildering and over-powering. These poets find pathways into the deepest feelings and discover vantage points that take a reader (or a listener) to another place. In their hands we look at the world differently. This is a moment for poetry; and all these poets deliver. Read them, and take off.”
The winner of the award will be announced later in the year.