The Forward Book of Poetry
London, Forward, 2014, 175p
It has been a pleasure to read this anthology. Over the few years, my understanding and appreciation of poetry has grown, and I have found some real gems in this anthology.
The Forward Prizes for Poetry are given for success in the publication of a collection, a first collection, and for recognised single poems. Kei Miller was celebrated as the winner of the Best Collection last month, and there is no doubt his writing is original and thought-provoking.
I found old loves and new favourites throughout this collection, some of which I cannot stop myself returning to again and again.
For example, 'Rissotto' by Mary Woodward is right at the back of the collection, and I stumbled upon it one evening when impatiently flicking through the pages. It is delicious, tempting and inviting, and made me immediately hungry. Hugo Williams' conversational style of story telling struck a chord with the common fears we all experience in love and life. And Graham Clifford's 'Best Poem Ever Written' reminded me of one of my favourites from last year, Emily Berry's 'International Poem of the Year'.
But more than any other poet, I love the work of Kevin Powers. The collection has a useful biography section at the back, that informed me Powers was an American serviceman in Iraq; but I could identify that from the emotive and dark realism of his poetry. He writes with anger and guilt, and his words brought tears to my eyes. This is a poet from whom I want to read more.
I am currently working with my creative writing students on responses to current and past commended Forward poets, either in the form of poetry, essays or performance. I have found some great sources for inspiration in this collection - some visual, some historical, some literary. There is a great variety of writing, which I think may be partly due to a great selection of judges. Poems from different cultures and forms are celebrated, and no two pages tell the same story.
Click here to read my other blog and follow what is going on with regards to students' responses to the Forward collections.