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Sharon Olds Nominated for Prestigious U.K. Poetry Award

Read more from G&A: The Contest Blog

A blog from: Poets & Writers Magazine

Posted by Prize Reporter on 7.23.09

For only the second time in history, an American has been named a finalist for the Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection, a prestigious U.K. poetry award. Sharon Olds, nominated for One Secret Thing (Jonathan Cape), joins five other poets, each of them well established in the U.K. poetry scene, in the running for the ten-thousand-pound award, worth roughly sixteen thousand U.S. dollars.

Also nominated for best collection are:
Glyn Maxwell of England for Hide Now (Picador)
Don Paterson of Scotland, who won the Forward Prize for a first collection in 1993, for Rain (Faber and Faber)
Peter Porter of England and Australia, who won the best collection prize in 2002, for Better Than God (Picador)
Christopher Reid of England for A Scattering (Areté Books)
Hugo Williams of England for West End Final (Faber and Faber)

Representing U.S. poetry among the finalists in the two other Forward Poetry Prize categories are Meghan O’Rourke and C. K. Williams. O’Rourke, poetry editor of the Paris Review, was nominated for best debut collection for Halflife (Norton). Williams is in the running for best single poem for "Either/Or," published in the U.K. journal the Poetry Review. The first book honor carries a prize of five thousand pounds (approximately eight thousand dollars), and the single poem award is one thousand pounds (approximately sixteen hundred dollars).

The other debut collection finalists are:
Siân Hughes of England for The Missing (Salt)
Emma Jones of Australia for The Striped World (Faber and Faber)
Meirion Jordan of Wales for Moonrise (Seren)
Lorraine Mariner of England for Furniture (Picador)
J. O. Morgan of England for Natural Mechanical (CB Editions)

The finalists for best poem are:
Paul Farley of England for "Moles" from the Poetry Review
Michael Longley of Ireland for "Visiting Stanley Kunitz" from Irish Pages
Robin Robertson of Scotland for "At Roane Road" from London Review of Books
Elizabeth Speller of England for "Finistère" from the Bridport Prize Anthology
George Szirtes of Hungary and England for "Song" from the Liberal

The book awards are given annually by the Forward Arts Foundation to honor collections published in the U.K. or Ireland between October of the previous year and September of the current year. The eligibility window for poems spans from May of the previous year through April of the current year.

The Forward Prize winners will be announced in London on October 7, on the eve of U.K.’s National Poetry Day. The judges are poets Tishani Doshi, David Harsent, and Jean Sprackland, fiction writer and theatre producer Josephine Hart, and the Guardian’s poetry editor Nicholas Wroe.

For the curious, the first American finalist for best collection was August Kleinzahler, nominated for The Strange Hours Travelers Keep (Faber and Faber) in 2004.

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