Inevitably perhaps there is much to admire in The Forward Book or Poetry 2023, an anthology made up of extracts from candidates for the Forward Prizes: ‘Best Collection’, ‘Best First Collection’, and ‘Best Single Poem’.
Unfortunately there is – thankfully in the minority – a number of pieces which simply don’t deserve their place, to my mind having been including because they are ‘gimmicky’, or ‘different’, or out of some misplaced sense that being out-of-the-ordinary equates to quality / talent on some obscure ‘poetic’ scale. I would argue that these devalue the collection.
I have already referenced the most extreme example of a non-poem elsewhere.
Overall I have to say that I think this collection may be just a notch above the much lauded – and over-large – Bloodaxe Being Human / Staying Alive series.