The Forward Prizes for Poetry are the most coveted awards for poetry published in Britain and Ireland. They have played a key role in bringing contemporary poetry to the attention of the wider public for a quarter of a century. They were set up in 1991 by philanthropist William Sieghart to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience, and are awarded to published poets for work in print in the last year. Last month, the Forward Prize for Best Collection was awarded to Danez Smith for their collection, Don’t Call Us Dead.
Smith’s unflinching poetry addresses race, class, sexuality, faith, social justice, mortality, and the challenges of living HIV positive at the intersection of black and queer identity. The collection opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved on earth. “Dear White America, ” which Smith performed at the 2014 Rustbelt Midwest Region Poetry Slam, has as strong an impact on the page as it did on the spoken word stage. Smith’s courage and hope amidst the struggle for unity in America will humble and uplift you.
Prizes were also awarded to poets Phoebe Power and Liz Berry.
Place a hold on Don’t Call Us Dead in the library catalog.