Niall Campbell and Vidyan Ravinthiran shortlisted for Forward Prize for Best Collection 2019
Published in April 2019, Noctuary, by Leeds-based Scottish poet Niall Campbell, voices the late nights and early mornings of fatherhood in poems from a world reshaped by half-waking dreams and interrupted sleep. Meanwhile, Poetry Book Society Recommendation The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here is Vidyan Ravinthiran's second collection, and was published in June 2019. A book of sonnets for his wife, the poems are finely balanced between the inward and outward, tracing immigrant anxiety and the intimacies of marriage.
The 2019 judging panel, which read 204 collections before choosing its shortlist, is chaired by Shahidha Bari, presenter of BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking. She was joined by Jamie Andrews, head of the British Library’s Cultural and Learning Programme and poets Tara Bergin, Andrew McMillan and Carol Rumens.
Chair Shahidha Bari said: “What stood out was a playfulness and willingness to experiment with genre. Some of the work we’ve selected will look like poetry, sound like poetry, but it could also fall into the categories of other forms: there are lots of prose poems too. And we were surprised at how blurred the boundary between poetry and drama has become. Perhaps that shouldn’t be surprising as we have such a rich tradition of performance poetry in this country, but this is a different development. It’s been so thrilling in the last few years watching the boom in poetry, the great affection for poetry, the passion for poetry. That’s given people who both read and teach poetry a great deal of comfort, inspiration and hope.”
The awards will be presented at an event at Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall on Sunday 20 October. It will feature readings from all the shortlisted books, and close Southbank Centre's Poetry International festival, which this year runs 17-20 October as part of London Literature Festival. To book tickets, click here.
The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here was reviewed in The Guardian's Forward Prize special feature of 13 July 2019. A poem from Noctuary features on the same page.
[23 May 2019]