Kim Moore’s “phenomenal and powerful” collection of poetry All the Men I Never Married has won the £10,000 Forward prize for best collection.
Moore’s 48 poems deal with the experiences of everyday sexism through a gallery of exes and significant others.
Chair of judges Fatima Bhutto said the collection was “full of dangerous wit and knowing humour that speaks directly to the reader in a hugely pleasurable way”, while fellow judge Nadine Aisha Jassat said it was a “phenomenal and powerful collection, and one I urgently want to share with everyone I know”.
Moore was revealed as the winner at a ceremony tonight at Contact in Manchester. The other collections shortlisted were Pilgrim Bell by Kaveh Akbar, Sonnets for Albert by Anthony Joseph, Cain Named the Animal by Shane McCrae, and The Illustrated Woman by Helen Mort.
Also announced at the ceremony was Stephanie Sy-Quia’s Amnion as the winner of the Felix Dennis Prize for best first collection, and Nick Laird’s Up Late as the winner of the best single poem category.
Amnion explores colonialism, class and migration through fiction, epic poetry and the lyric essay. Judge alice hillier said, “Through the extended, fragmented form, Sy-Quia interlinks multiple generations and diverse identities, always questioning how the individual narratives are sited relative to the dominant power structures and historical realities shaping their outcomes.”
Shortlisted alongside Sy-Quia were Rifqa by Mohammed El-Kurd, The English Summer by Holly Hopkins, Some Integrity by Padraig Regan, and Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire.
Up Late was written by Laird as an elegy to his father, who died of Covid in March 2021. The judges felt Up Late “sincerely engaged with death, grief and the private and shared lived experience of the pandemic in ways which readers will find profoundly moving and cathartic”.
The other poets shortlisted for best single poem were Louisa Campbell for Dog on a British Airways Airbus 319-100, Cecilia Knapp for I’m Shouting I LOVED YOUR DAD at my Brother’s Cat, Carl Phillips for Scattered Snows, to the North, and Clare Pollard for Pollen.
Sy-Quia wins £5,000, and Laird wins £1,000. Bhutto said this year’s judges “read such an incredible selection of work”, adding that “all the shortlisted collections and poems were so accomplished and are a great testament to the radical spirit of poetry today”.
The Forward Arts Foundation, which runs the awards, also announced that next year’s judging panels will be chaired by Bernardine Evaristo and Joelle Taylor. Evaristo will chair the panel judging the collection length entries, while Taylor will chair the panel focusing on best single poem and a new category for best single poem – performed.
Last year’s best collection prize went to Luke Kennard’s Notes on the Sonnets, while the best first collection was won by Caleb Femi for Poor. The best single poem prize went to Nicole Sealey’s Pages 22-29, an excerpt from The Ferguson Report: An Erasure.