Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The Forward Prizes 2012: Predictions

Tonight the results will be announced for the Forward Prizes (or Backward Prizes as they are now popularly called) for Best Collection, Best First Collection and Best Poem. I haven’t said anything about this up until now. The more I look at the poetry awards in the UK, the more I realise the whole thing is caught up in the poetry biz. Awards sometimes resemble ‘rewards’ or mutual back-slapping parties between judges and recipients. Maybe tonight will prove otherwise. ‘Outsider’ figures have won awards occasionally in the past and there is always that chance.

But predictions are always fun. The shortlists are here. I predict that John Burnside will win Best Collection. Sean O’Brien and David Harsent will both have a strong appeal for the judges, but I guess they may feel John Burnside’s time has come: he hasn’t won it before. Geoffrey Hill hasn’t won it before either, but he will no doubt divide the judges down the middle.

I predict that Rachael Boast will win Best First Collection, although I am particularly unsure of my guess in this category. Anything on the shortlist could win.

The Best Poem category contains two poems from Poetry Review (the editor is one of the judges, although there are five judges. Can't make the judging process easy, mind you), one from the London Review of Books, and one from Poetry London. I have only read Sharon Olds’s poem in the Best Poem category, but that won’t stop me having a guess. I predict Alan Jenkins will win.

I am not very good at guessing winners of anything, by the way, so don’t rush down to the bookies and place money on account of my tips.

*Edit: actually, my advice at the end was wrong. You should have gone to the bookies and invested your life-savings on my first two predictions - as John Burnside and Rachael Boast both won*