A day for a poet, but you may not know it

Today is National Poetry Day, a chance to reflect on an art that seldom makes headlines, but regularly enriches the private moments of countless readers. The writers below won the prestigious Forward prizes, awarded annually to mark the event. To celebrate their honourable calling, The Independent commissioned its own resident poet, Martin Newell, to write in praise of the art itself

DAVID HARSENT FOR 'LEGION'

The £10,000 prize was awarded to the 63-year-old Devon-born and London-based poet for his ninth collection of works. Harsent has also written two librettos, including The Woman and the Hare, which was nominated for a Grammy. He is also the author of the Stella Mooney crime fiction series, writing as David Lawrence. The judges described Legion as "a dazzling and intensely moving sequence that looks without prurience at the countless horrors of war we choose to forget".

FELIX DENNIS PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST COLLECTION

HELEN FARISH FOR 'INTIMATES'

This is the first major poetry prize, worth £5,000, for Farish, who was born in Cumbria in 1962 and returned there last year to be poet in residence at the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere. She teaches at Sheffield Hallam University and divides her time between living there and Oxford. Tim Dee, chairman of judges, said Intimates was "a quiet book, but it draws on domesticity, families, love and death with such compassion and honesty, it feels utterly true".

FORWARD PRIZE FOR BEST SINGLE POEM

PAUL FARLEY FOR 'LIVERPOOL DISAPPEARS FOR A BILLIONTH OF A SECOND'

Farley, 40, a Chelsea School of Art graduate and now a lecturer at Lancaster University, has been picking up prizes since 1998, when his debut won the prize for best first collection. This year, his prize is worth £1,000. Tim Dee, chairman of judges, said: "[This] has a title that sounds like an indy song, but the cleverness and originality of its idea is wholly Paul Farley's own. This is a poem whose subject - the flickering sense of cracks in time - ricochets in any reader's mind."

'In praise of poetry' by Martin Newell

Poetry is no less than this:

An unexpected workplace kiss

The brandy in the spirit cage

A salve upon our wounded age

That lustful swell, the secret damp

The yellow of the attic lamp

The drifting, smoky, hazel haze

Of wooded hills on autumn days

Between the thoughts of summer lost

And anvil of the winter frost

The horse returning to the door

Of empty stables after war

Riderless, uncertain now

Past the harrow and its plough

Plodding up the pitted track

Battered saddle on his back.

Poetry: Rentboy of the arts

Loitering with the other tarts

Knowing far more than it should

Much too much for its own good

Bitching, blurting, doing deals

Selling out for drinks and meals

Jumping on the latest trends

Disappointing loyal friends

Eye on clock and thumb on scales

Marrying for cash and sales

You wouldn't trust him in your car

And definitely not, a bar.

The poet though, is alchemist

A snake-oil salesman, pharmacist

A mojo merchant trawling town

The painter put his dust-sheet down

In case your old horizons run

Before he touches up the sun

Recalling feelings you may not

Evoking those that you forgot

Giving voice to words unsaid

The godless freefall in your head

The things you never knew, yet miss.

Poetry is no less than this.

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