The Forward Book of Poetry 2011

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The Independent Culture

The Forward prizes anthology turns in its annual magic trick. Within a few hours of delight and surprise, it makes readers who have backslid on attention to new verse feel in the loop, and up to speed.

Nuggets from shortlisted collections glint: Seamus Heaney (the winner), Lachlan Mackinnon, Jo Shapcott, Fiona Sampson, with glittering debutants such as Hilary Menos and Sam Willetts in the frame.

Then the silvery trawl of "highly commended" single poems thrash in a starry net: Carol Ann Duffy, Derek Mahon, Derek Walcott, Philip Gross, Jackie Kay, Simon Armitage.

All will take you down via words that shine into what Elaine Feinstein calls, in her lovely poem about Christmas with an autistic grandson, "the unknown pathways lying under speech".