Vahni Capildeo, Danez Smith and Abigail Parry are among the frontrunners for this year’s Forward Prizes, the annual awards often dubbed the “poetry Oscars”.

Capildeo, who won the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2016, is in the running for the £10,000 award again with Venus as a Bear, a collection partly inspired by the poet’s visits to Oxford’s Ashmolean museum, and trips to Iceland and Puerto Rico. Also up for the main prize are Scottish poet JO Morgan’s Assurances, a book-length poem about the Cold War, and Toby Martinez de las Rivas’s challenging collection of lyric poetry Black Sun, as well as new collections from popular American performance poet Danez Smith and US Poet Laureate Tracy K Smith.

The chair of this year’s judging panel, BBC broadcaster Bidisha, said: “In reading for this year ’s Forward Prizes, the other judges and I discovered an art form that is in roaring health. We read countless collections full of wonder and possibility, light but not trivial, serious but not depressing, lushly emotional but not sentimental, frequently witty and capable of great craft and zingy modernity.

“Our shortlists represent the stunning variety and breadth of poetry today, with contemporary international voices that are urgent, engaged and inspirational.”

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