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Caroline Bird Wins Forward Prize 2020

Monday, 26 Oct 2020

Forward Arts Best Collection Winner Image with The Air Year by Caroline Bird We are overjoyed to share the news that Caroline Bird has been awarded the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2020 for The Air Year! Caroline was announced as the winner of the main prize at a virtual ceremony hosted by the British Library yesterday afternoon, alongside Will Harris who received the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection and Malika Booker who won Best Single Poem. Huge congratulations to all three winners, especially Caroline - we couldn't be prouder! To hear poems from all the shortlisted poets, you can watch a recording of the event here.

The Air Year is named for the hurricane of a new relationship, the time before the first (or "paper") anniversary.

Caroline explained: “The Air Year was written during a time of complete uncertainty in my life, when I felt I was mid-air between rooftops with nothing beneath me, trying to knit a future for myself out of the air in the same way that I knit a poem out of the blankness of the page. The speakers of the poems are often falling from planes, cliff-tops, windows, or evaporating and dissolving—the things they want most in the world seem unattainable; their shame is just as loud as their love.”

Chair of the 2020 jury, writer, critic and cultural historian Alexandra Harris, said of it: "These poems are trapeze ropes made with words, swinging us up and out into the unknown, from dazzle into darkness and back again. With hurtling fluency and ethereal weightlessness, they give chase to mysteries of love and hurt. Turning, tumbling, vaulting, The Air Year performs a surrealist aerial dance. Every time you look, its shape has shifted, its extravagance, puzzlement and passion are startlingly reconfigured.”

Read more about the prize, the rest of the winners and the whole shortlist, including the Forward Book of Poetry, at the Forward Arts website here.

Here is a lovely article in The Guardian.

Caroline Bird author photo The Air Year is a time of flight, transition and suspension: signatures scribbled on the sky. Bird's speakers exist in a state of unrest, trapped in a liminal place between take-off and landing, undeniably lost. Love is uncontrollable, joy comes and goes at hurricane speed. They walk to the cliff edge, close their eyes and step out into the air.

Caroline Bird
has five previous collections published by Carcanet. Her fifth collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award.

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