The Forward Book of Poetry 2023

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.

Reading List