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6 October 2011

Poetic justice

John Burnside, shortlisted three times before, finally wins the Forward Prize

By Sophie Elmhirst

Last night, the Forward Prize – in its 20th year – awarded the prize for best collection to John Burnside, for his collection Black Cat Bone. In his acceptance speech, Burnside – who has been shortlisted three times for the prize in previous years – said he was “wordless”, a rare event.

Burnside’s fellow winners were Rachel Boast, who won the prize for first collection for Sidereal, and R F Langley who won the prize for the best single poem, for “To A Nightingale”. Langley died earlier this year, and the prize was accepted by his widow.

Burnside has contributed regularly to the New Statesman in recent years, including a piece on Margaret Thatcher’s legacy in Corby and an exclusive series of poems, called An Essay on Narrative.

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