Heaney 'honoured' to win £10,000 Forward Prize


SEAMUS HEANEY was named the winner of this year’s £10,000 Forward Prize for best poetry collection last night at a ceremony in London.

Heaney (71) won for his 12th book, Human Chain. Despite being a Nobel laureate, it was the first time the poet had won this particular annual prize, now in its 19th year. Heaney was not present at the awards ceremony, but a statement was read out on his behalf.

“I am sorry not to be able to attend the awards ceremony but honoured to be a recipient of the Forward Prize.

“The quality of the other books on the shortlist, my respect for the judges, and the distinction of previous winners have made this prize a prominent and highly regarded contribution to the life of poetry in this country; it is one of the most enhancing rewards which the art and the individual artist can be granted, I am truly grateful to all concerned.”

Poet Ruth Padel was the chairwoman of the judging panel, which included actor Fiona Shaw, broadcaster Alex Clark, and performance poet “Dreadlockalien”. The judges said they awarded the prize to Human Chainbecause it was “a collection of painful, honest, and delicately weighted poems.

It is a wonderful and humane achievement.”

Also on the shortlist of six in Heaney’s category was Armagh-born poet Sinéad Morrissey, for her collection, Through the Square Window.

It was the first time Morrissey (38) had been shortlisted in the best collection category.

The other four poets in their category were Fiona Sampson, a frequent contributor to the books pages of this newspaper; Lachlan Mackinnon; Robin Robertson; and Jo Shapcott.

The other two category winners were Hilary Menos (45) and Julia Copus. Memos won the £5,000 Felix Dennis Prize for best first collection for her book, Berg, about icebergs. Copus (53) won best single poem with An Easy Passage.