The Forward Book of Poetry 2012


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The Independent Culture

To time-poor readers, poetry can seem to bear no weight at all; a passing fancy or (as John Burnside puts it here) a thin shadow, "something chill and slender in this world".

Thanks to the annual Forward anthologies, slender and yet crammed with colour and flavour, ultra-busy poetry-dodgers can catch the year's best. Burnside joins fellow-winners and shortlistees, along with commended poems from the likes of Les Murray and Lavinia Greenlaw, Daljit Nagra and Wendy Cope, in a gathering that feels both nifty and hefty.

Dip and flip, even randomly, and many pieces will leave you both cleansed and replenished – like the listener to a nightingale in RF Langley's winner for "best poem": "I am/ empty, stopped at nothing, as/ I wait for this song to shoot".