Forward Prizes at Leeds Playhouse and online

Sarah-Clare Conlon, Literature Editor
Joelle Taylor. Photo by Roman Manfredi
Joelle Taylor. Photo by Roman Manfredi.

Forward Prizes at Leeds Playhouse, Leeds 16 October 2023 Tickets from £15.00 — Book now

It’s the 31st anniversary of the Forward Prizes for Poetry, the most coveted awards for new poetry in the UK and Ireland, honouring fresh voices alongside internationally established names – and this year the glittering awards ceremony will take place in Leeds.

You’re invited to join 2023 jury chairs Bernardine Evaristo and Joelle Taylor as they host the presentation of the Forward Prizes in four categories: Best Collection, The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, Best Single Poem – Written and the brand-new-this-year category of Best Single Poem – Performed. This year’s judges read more than 236 poetry collections and 420 single poems to find the most exciting poetry published in the British Isles. We did the Sealey Challenge this August, reading a poetry book a day for the whole of the month, so we can say this is no mean feat.

Bernardine Evaristo, Chair for the Best Collections panel, was joined by judges Kate Fox, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Andrés N Ordórica and Jessica Traynor. They whittled their pile down to a shortlist for Best Collection featuring Jason Allen-Paisant Self Portrait as Othello (Carcanet), Mary Jean Chan Bright Fear (Faber & Faber), Jane Clarke A Change in the Air (Bloodaxe), Kit Fan The Ink Cloud Reader (Carcanet) and Elisabeth Sennitt Clough My Name is Abilene (Salt).

Joelle Taylor, Chair for Best Single Poems panel – which includes Man Met’s Malika Booker on the written shortlist and Roger Robinson (seen at a recent Kendal Poetry Festival) on the performed shortlist – was joined by Khadijah Ibrahiim, Caroline Bird, Chris Redmond and Sue Roberts.

The Forward Prizes are up there as far as literary calendar fixtures go – all of the shortlisted poets are invited to stride up the red carpet and read at the gala, so it’s a chance for everyone who wants to discover the best contemporary poetry to enjoy a live showcase of top talent. They say: “The Forward Prizes are invaluable in finding the most essential, exciting voices, highlighting the contemporary poets who are at the top of their game and whose words will travel far and reach many readers.” Andrew Marr says: “The Forward Prizes have established themselves as central to the literary landscape of modern Britain.” The Guardian says: “The works in contention address the world head-on.”

Since the first awards were made in 1992, some of the most recognised names in poetry have been lauded, including current Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, along with Manchester faces Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay, plus the likes of Caleb Femi, Thom Gunn, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes and Claudia Rankine. Last year, Kim Moore and Helen Mort, who both teach at the Manchester Writing School, were up for awards, with Kim taking the top prize.

Can’t make it in person? Don’t worry, there will be an option to book a livestream ticket for this event nearer the time.

Forward Book of Poetry 2024
Forward Book of Poetry 2024

Forward Prizes at Leeds Playhouse, Leeds 16 October 2023 Tickets from £15.00 Book now

What's on at Leeds Playhouse

Look After Your Knees at Leeds Playhouse
TheatreLeeds
Look After Your Knees at Leeds Playhouse

Natalie Bellingham’s new show, tackling the pain and beauty of growing older, will preview at Leeds Playhouse ahead of its month-long run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

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Where to go near Forward Prizes at Leeds Playhouse and online

Music venue
The Wardrobe

Located in the city centre’s eastern Art Quarter, The Wardrobe features a bar and kitchen on its ground floor plus a cosy dedicated event space in the basement. Dance, jazz and world music regularly feature on The Wardrobe’s gig calendar, while the venue hosts popular club nights and comedy too.

Yorkshire Dance
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Yorkshire Dance

With three well-equipped studios, Yorkshire Dance HQ is a super performance venue for dance, theatre and spoken-word events.

Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre building
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Event venue
Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre

The Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre is located in Leeds’ thriving cultural quarter on Quarry Hill, offering an exciting programme of dance, theatre and family-friendly shows.

Leeds
Restaurant
Sarto Leeds

Sarto, Leeds’s long-awaited pasta restaurant is a joint project between Laynes Espresso and The Brunswick.

Colours May Vary Leeds
Leeds
Shop
Colours May Vary

You can spend hours browsing in Colours May Vary for unique and hard-to-find greetings cards, stationary, homeware and magazines. Of especial interest are the one of a kind ceramic ornaments.

Leeds Kirkgate Market
Leeds
Shop
Leeds Kirkgate Market

Leeds Kirkgate Market is Europe’s biggest covered markets, featuring over 800 stalls, with goods ranging from clothing to fresh produce.

Leeds
Leeds College of Music

Leeds College of Music (LCoM) is the largest specialist conservatoire in the UK, delivering expert music and performing arts education to a community of over 1200 students.

The Gallery at 164, Leeds
Leeds
Gallery
The Gallery
at 164

The Gallery at 164 is an independent gallery in Leeds City Centre, exhibiting an eclectic mix of styles and media from both established and emerging talents.

Leeds
Event venue
Outlaws Yacht Club

A European style café/bar, exhibition space, record shop, hair salon and creative hangout tucked away on New York Street in Leeds…

Food at Crowd of Favours Leeds
Leeds
Restaurant
Crowd of Favours

Crowd of Favours is a relaxed, welcoming restaurant and pub serving a great range of beers, spirits and locally sourced food.

Asian Bazaar Leeds
Leeds
Asian Bazaar

In the heart of Leeds is also an Asian market held every Wednesday, featuring a vast array of fabrics and spices from the Indian subcontinent and beyond.

What's on: Literature

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LiteratureManchester
Luke Kennard at Manchester Poetry Library

We’re looking forward to hearing from Birmingham-based poet, critic and fiction writer Luke Kennard, the third guest to appear in Manchester Poetry Library’s events programme.

free entry
Ciarán Hodgers. Photo by Wesley Storey
LiteratureManchester
Word Central at Central Library

Word Central is a long-standing live literature favourite at Central Library and features open mic performers and a special guest, brought to you by Manchester Libraries and Flapjack Press.

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