Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Forward Prize 2009 Predictions

This Sunday (11th October), I’m looking forward to ‘Poetry at the… GRV’ (7.45-9.45pm) and have just posted a poem and bio from Dave Coates who’ll be reading along with Brian Johnstone and Eddie Gibbons.

Now for a little idle speculation. The winners of the Forward Prize will be announced on Wednesday. Who will win? I’m bound to get this wrong and I haven’t read most of the books in any case (although I have read at least a few poems from all the main prize books and some of the first collection books), but I’m going to guess anyway.

First of all, the Best Collection category. Here’s the shortlist (note - 5 men, 1 woman):

Glyn Maxwell - Hide Now
Sharon Olds - One Secret Thing
Don Paterson – Rain
Peter Porter - Better than God
Christopher Reid - A Scattering
Hugo Williams - West End Final.

The favourite is probably Don Paterson’s ‘Rain’. I like DP’s work, although I haven’t yet read this new collection. However, I predict Glyn Maxwell’s ‘Hide Now’ will pull off a surprise win.

Secondly, the Best First Collection shortlist (4 women, 2 men):

Sian Hughes - The Missing
Emma Jones - The Striped World
Meirion Jordan – Moonrise
Lorraine Mariner – Furniture
J.O. Morgan - Natural Mechanical
Meghan O'Rourke - Halflife.

I’d like to see Sian Hughes win, for the obvious reason that the book is published by Salt. I guess Emma Jones is the favourite, as a Faber debut always tends to be the favourite (I have actually read this book and liked it). My prediction for winner is Lorraine Mariner – I just have a hunch.

Thirdly the shortlist for Best Poem (5 men, 1 woman):

Paul Farley – Moles
Michael Longley – Visiting Stanley Kunitz
Robin Robertson - At Roane Road
Elizabeth Speller – Finistere
George Szirtes – Song
CK Williams - Either/Or

Now, I have read four out of the six poems. Of these, I thought (just my opinion, remember) one was poor and its inclusion almost inexplicable, one was far from the author’s best work, one was a strong contender, and one (‘Song’ by George Szirtes) could well be the winner unless either of the two poems I haven’t read are very special indeed.

Tune in for the result on Wednesday evening to find out how absolutely wrong I’ve been!


Ben Wilkinson said...

Not at all sure about Best Poem, but I agree with you on Best Collection and Best First Collection. Mariner's poetry may be limited in scope and not to everyone's taste (I like it stylistically, though it rarely makes me think), but it's pretty distinctive and (that comp buzzword) 'contemporary' so Furniture stands a good chance I reckon.

I hope Hide Now wins Best Collection, and also suspect it will. I know I'm probably in the minority here, but I really think it's his best book to date - a few meandering and excessively clever-clever long poems, but some real gems in there, particularly the opening poem, 'The Old Lad', and these:


And as enjoyable as much of Rain is, I can't see them awarding it to Paterson again.


BarbaraS said...

Some interesting comments here, Rob. I too wait with interest to see how it turns out.

Rob said...

Well, I picked out the favourites rather than the winners, but the winners this year were indeed the favourites - Paterson and Jones! I haven't read Robin Robertson's poem, which won the best poem category.

Rob said...

Both winning books (Best Collection and Best First Collection) are published by Faber.

Ben Wilkinson said...

Editing in to make clear that when I said "award it to Paterson again", I was stupidly confusing his two T.S. Eliot wins with the Forward. Duh.

Emma Jones seems a deserving winner for Best First Collection. For those interested, my review of The Striped World is forthcoming in the TLS.