The Forward Prizes for Poetry 2012

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For immediate release 1930hrs Monday 1 October 2012

Jorie Graham wins

The Forward Prizes for Poetry 2012

The winners of The Forward Prizes for Poetry 2012 have been announced tonight, Monday 1 October 2012, at a ceremony in Somerset House, London.

  • Pulitzer Prize-winning American poet Jorie Graham wins the £10,000 Forward Prize for Best Collection, for P L A C E (Carcanet). She is the first female recipient of the prize since Kathleen Jamie in 2004 and the first American woman ever to receive the honour

  • Sam Riviere wins the £5,000 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection for

81 Austerities (Faber & Faber), his collection of poems from an era of budget cuts, social networking and information overload

  • Denise Riley has been awarded The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in memory of Michael Donaghy , worth £1,000, for A Part Song (London Review of Books), a meditation on the loss of her son in 2008

Jorie Graham has been acknowledged by the Poetry Foundation as “perhaps the most celebrated poet of the American post-war generation”. The judges described P L A C E (Carcanet), her twelfth collection, as “startling, powerful, never predictable” and “a joy” to read. They praised Graham’s huge confidence, original use of form and the energy, intelligence and breadth of the poems, which reflect a heightened perception and a philosophical exploration of the discomfort of living.
Praised by the judges as “effortless, wide ranging and confident”, Sam Riviere’s poems address the everyday experience of life in the digital world with “sophistication, wryness and self awareness”. Emerging from the Faber New Poets programme, he is the first male recipient of the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection since fellow Faber & Faber writer Daljit Nagra in 2007.
Comprising 20 sections, A Part Song, Denise Riley’s first published poem in five years, appeared in the London Review of Books on 9 February 2012. The judges admired the dynamic range of the “heartbreaking” poem which “simply, purely and honestly” addresses her dead son.
Leonie Rushforth, Chair of judging panel, poet and teacher, comments:
“Jorie Graham’s P L A C E was a happily unanimous choice for the judges. It is a challenging collection of unusual force and originality, forging connections between inner experience and a world in crisis.
81 Austerities began life as a blog and has retained that exhilarating immediacy as a collection. It takes on the hollowed-out languages of commerce and digital media and performs a kind of ruthless forensics on them.
“Denise Riley’s A Part Song struck us all powerfully. It is a really searing poem wrestling a protean grief into poetic form.”
The other judges for the Forward Prizes 2012 are poets Ian McMillan and Alice Oswald, along with Emma Hogan, the literary critic who writes on poetry for The Economist amongst others, and Megan Walsh, feature writer, assistant editor and critic on The Times Saturday Review.
William Sieghart, Chairman of the Forward Arts Foundation, comments:
“I am delighted that Jorie Graham has been awarded her first Forward Prize for Best Collection and hope that she will now be discovered by more readers on this side of the Atlantic.
“Faber has done much to nurture a young crop of poets and The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection winner Sam Riviere is a wonderful and original new voice.
Denise Riley’s A Part Song conveys a mother’s pain at the loss of her son with great skill and honesty.”
Founded by William Sieghart in 1991 and sponsored by The Forward Group, over the last 21 years the Forward Prizes have recognised and awarded the best in contemporary poetry. Worth a total of £16,000, the Forward Prizes reward both established and up-and-coming poets. In the last two decades poets including Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy and Ted Hughes have won the Best Collection category. Just one poet, Robin Robertson, has won all three prizes.
The Forward Book of Poetry 2013, an anthology of poems from each of this year’s prize shortlists as well as those submissions highly commended by the judges, will be published on National Poetry Day, Thursday 4 October.

The Forward Prize for Best Collection
£10,000 – sponsored by the Forward Arts Foundation

Poet       Collection                     Publisher

Jorie Graham P L A C E (Carcanet Press)

Jorie Graham is the author of twelve collections of poetry, including The Dream of the Unified Field, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996. Her poems have been translated into numerous languages, including Albanian, Chinese and Polish. Born in New York in 1950, Graham grew up in France and Italy and was educated at the Sorbonne, New York University and the University of Iowa. A former director of the renowned Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, she now divides her time between western France and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she teaches poetry at Harvard University.

The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection
£5,000 – sponsored by Felix Dennis and the Forward Arts Foundation

Poet   Collection                        Publisher

Sam Riviere 81 Austerities (Faber & Faber)

Sam Riviere began to write poetry while at the Norwich School of Art and Design, and completed a Masters at Royal Holloway. His poems have appeared in various publications and competitions since 2005. He co-edits the anthology series Stop Sharpening Your Knives, and is currently working towards a PhD at the University of East Anglia. He was a recipient of a 2009 Eric Gregory Award.

The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in memory of Michael Donaghy
£1,000 – sponsored by the Forward Arts Foundation

Poet         Poem                      Publisher 

Denise Riley A Part Song (London Review of Books)

Denise Riley, Ph.D., is a professor of literature and philosophy, as well as a poet. She was born in in Carlisle, UK, in 1948. Until recently she was Professor of Literature and Philosophy at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. She is currently A. D. White Professor at Cornell University in the US. In the past she has also been a Writer in Residence at the Tate Gallery in London. Her poetry collections include Marxism for Infants (1977) and Penguin Modern Poets 10 (with Douglas Oliver and Iain Sinclair), 1996. Her non-fiction includes Am I That Name?: Feminism and the Category of ‘Women’ in History (Macmillan, 1988) and The Force of Language (Palgrave, 2004), with Jean-Jacques Lecercle. Published by the London Review of Books in February 2012, ‘A Part Song’ is her first new poetry since Denise Riley: Selected Poems (2000). A collection of personal essays, Time Lived, Without its Flow, has also been published this year by Capsule.
- Ends -
For further information about the prizes or to arrange an interview with any of the poets, please contact Chris Baker or Laura Norton at Four Colman Getty / 020 3023 9032 / 07872 176 270 / 020 3023 9905 / 07799 223 749
Notes to editors:

  1. The Forward Prizes, now in their 21st year, are some of the most sought after accolades for both established and emerging poets in the UK and Republic of Ireland. With a total value of £16,000, the prizes are divided into three categories: 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)

  1. Chair of judges, Leonie Rushforth, and the winning poets may be available for interview on request. Photographs and further information on the poets are available from Four Colman Getty

  1. William Sieghart, Chairman of the Forward Arts Foundation, is the founder of National Poetry Day, the Forward Poetry Prizes and Winning Words. He is available for interview through Four Colman Getty

  1. Copies of the winning collections and single poem as well as The Forward Book of Poetry 2013 are available on request from Four Colman Getty

  1. The 2012 shortlisted poets were:

The Forward Prize for Best Collection

£10,000 – sponsored by the Forward Arts Foundation

Beverley Bie Brahic White Sheets (CB Editions)

Jorie Graham P L A C E (Carcanet Press)

Barry Hill Naked Clay: Drawing from Lucian Freud (Shearsman Books)

Geoffrey Hill ODI BARBARE (Clutag Press)

Selima Hill People Who Like Meatballs (Bloodaxe Books)
The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection

£5,000 – sponsored by Felix Dennis and the Forward Arts Foundation

Loretta Collins Klobah The Twelve-Foot Neon Woman (Peepal Tree Press)

Rhian Edwards Clueless Dogs (Seren)

Lucy Hamilton Stalker (Shearsman Books)

Sam Riviere 81 Austerities (Faber and Faber)

Jacob Sam-La Rose Breaking Silence (Bloodaxe Books)


The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in memory of Michael Donaghy

£1,000 – sponsored by the Forward Arts Foundation
Greta Stoddart Deep Sea Diver (Magma Poetry)

Denise Riley A Part Song (London Review of Books)

Michael Longley Marigolds, 1960 (London Review of Books)

John Kinsella Mea Culpa: Cleaning the Gutters (The Warwick Review)

Marilyn Hacker Fugue on a line of Amr bin M'ad Yakrib (The Wolf Magazine)

  1. 176 collections published in the UK and Ireland between 1 October 2011 and 30 September 2012 were considered for this year’s Prizes. 150 poems, either published in a newspaper or magazine between 1 May 2011 and 30 April 2012, or winners of poetry prizes in the same period, were submitted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem

  1. Previous winners of the Forward Prizes are:

Best Collection: John Burnside Black Cat Bone (Jonathan Cape) 2011, Seamus Heaney Human Chain (Faber & Faber) 2010, Don Paterson Rain (Faber & Faber) 2009, Mick Imlah The Lost Leader (Faber & Faber) 2008, Sean O’Brien The Drowned Book (Picador) 2007, Robin Robertson Swithering (Jonathan Cape) 2006, David Harsent Legion (Faber & Faber) 2005, Kathleen Jamie The Tree House (Picador) 2004, Ciaran Carson Breaking News (Gallery Press) 2003, Peter Porter Max is Missing (Picador) 2002, Sean O’Brien Downriver (Picador) 2001, Michael Donaghy Conjure (Picador) 2000, Jo Shapcott My Life Asleep (OUP) 1999, Ted Hughes Birthday Letters (Faber & Faber) 1998, Jamie McKendrick The Marble Fly (OUP) 1997, John Fuller Stones and Fires (Chatto) 1996, Sean O’Brien Ghost Train (OUP) 1995, Alan Jenkins Harm (Chatto) 1994, Carol Ann Duffy Mean Time (Anvil Press)1993 and Thom Gunn The Man with Night Sweats (Faber & Faber) 1992
Best First Collection: Rachael Boast Sidereal (Picador) 2011, Hilary Menos Berg (Seren) 2010, Emma Jones The Striped World (Faber & Faber) 2009, Kathryn Simmons Sunday at the Skin Launderette (Seren) 2008, Daljit Nagra Look We Have Coming To Dover (Faber & Faber) 2007, Tishani Doshi Countries of the Body (Aark Arts) 2006, Helen Farish Intimates (Jonathan Cape) 2005, Leontia Flynn These Days (Jonathan Cape) 2004, A.B. Jackson Fire Stations (Anvil Press) 2003, Tom French Touching the Bones (Gallery Press) 2002, John Stammers Panoramic Lounge-bar (Picador) 2001, Andrew Waterhouse In (The Rialto) 2000, Nick Drake The Man in the White Suit (Bloodaxe) 1999, Paul Farley The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You (Picador) 1998, Robin Robertson A Painted Field (Picador) 1997, Kate Clanchy Slattern (Chatto) 1996, Jane Duran Breathe Now, Breathe (Enitharmon) 1995, Kwame Dawes Progeny of Air (Peepal Tree) 1994, Don Paterson Nil Nil (Faber & Faber) 1993 and Simon Armitage Kid (Faber & Faber) 1992
Best Single Poem: R F Langley To A Nightingale (London Review of Books) 2011, Julia Copus An Easy Passage (Magma) 2010, Robin Robertson At Roane Head (London Review of Books) 2009, Don Paterson Love Poem For Natalie ‘Tusja’ Beridze (Poetry Review) 2008, Alice Oswald Dunt (Poetry London), 2007, Sean O’Brien Fantasia on a Theme of James Wright (Poetry Review) 2006, Paul Farley Liverpool Disappears for a Billionth of a Second (The North) 2005, Daljit Nagra Look We Have Coming to Dover (Poetry Review) 2004, Robert Minhinnick The Fox in the Museum of Wales (Poetry London) 2003, Medbh McGuckian (2002), Ian Duhig (2001), Tessa Biddington (2000), Robert Minhinnick (1999), Sheenagh Pugh (1998), Lavinia Greenlaw (1997), Kathleen Jamie (1996), Jenny Joseph (1995), Iain Crichton Smith (1994), Vicki Feaver (1993) and Jackie Kay (1992)

  1. Founded in 1991 The Forward Arts Foundation is one of the UK’s foremost supporters of the literary arts. The Foundation is fuelled by an ambition to transform the image of poetry in the public sphere. The Foundation does this through three key activities: the Forward Prizes for Poetry, National Poetry Day, and Winning Words. Support for these activities is generously provided by Arts Council England, The Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and The John Ellerman Foundation.

  1. Forward, one of the UK’s leading customer publishing agencies, are sponsors and key supporters of the Forward Prizes for Poetry. Forward creates beautifully crafted, highly targeted customer communications for clients such as Patek Philippe, Bang & Olufsen, Tesco, Ford, Standard Life, Transport for London and Barclays. Forward’s bespoke magazines, websites, ezines and emails are produced in 38 languages and reach customers in 172 countries.

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