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Manchester Met Number 70 Oxford Street, M1 5NH
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Forward Prizes for Poetry: Northern Preview

We are thrilled to announce an exclusive Manchester preview of this year’s Forward Prizes for Poetry! In this unique event, jointly supported by Manchester Writing School at Manchester Met, and Forward Arts Foundation, we’ll whet your appetite for the Forward Prizes Ceremony by hearing from the poets shortlisted for the Best Collection Prize. Join us to celebrate the very best in this year’s poetry and hear what the poets have to say about their work, and the shortlist they’ve found themselves on.

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Poet Biographies

Fiona Benson:

Fiona Benson (b. 1978, Wroughton) published the first pamphlet in the Faber New Poets series. Reviewing her debut collection, Bright Travellers, Ben Wilkinson described how she ‘treat[s] the poem as a kind of secular prayer’, and indeed many of the poems in Vertigo & Ghost arrive at prayer as their destination or end-point: the last words of the final poem in the collection, ‘Eurofighter Tycoon’, are ‘Mary Mother of God have mercy, mercy on us all.’

Niall Campbell:

Niall Campbell (b. 1984, South Uist) published his first collection, Moontide, a month after the birth of his son: the poems in Noctuary (a journal of the night hours) were written in whatever moments he could snatch from the larger responsibilities of parenthood. ‘The world, I think, seems larger in my first collection, while in this book it is often just the size of a dark room’, he writes.

Ilya Kaminsky (Appearing via pre-recorded video)

Deaf Republic, Ilya Kaminsky's (b. 1977, Odessa) second collection, is a modern fable or parable; in an unnamed country, a deaf child is killed by soldiers dispersing a protest, and the town falls sympathetically deaf in response, coordinating their dissent via sign language. ‘This silence is personal’, writes Kaminsky. ‘I did not have hearing aids until I was sixteen and my family immigrated. As a deaf child, I experienced my country as a nation without sound. I heard the USSR fall apart with my eyes.’

Vidyan Ravinthiran

Vidyan Ravinthiran (b. 1984, Leeds) is a Senior Lecturer in North American Literature at the University of Birmingham and an editor from the online magazine Prac Crit. The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here, which takes its title from a line in Philip Larkin’s poem ‘The Old Fools’, is his second collection; his debut, Grun-tu-molani, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Seamus Heaney Prize.

Helen Tookey

Helen Tookey (b. 1969, Leicester) lives in Liverpool, where she works as Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at John Moores University. Her previous collection from Carcanet, Missel-Child, was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Prize. The poems she is currently writing arise out of her response to the ecological crisis: poetry, she says, can and should tackle big ideas, ‘but you’ve got to get those ideas across by showing the reader something specific and tangible that they can take hold of.’

Full bios and more information on each poet can be found at the Forward Arts Foundation website here: