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Terrific news from the Forward Poetry Prize PTB: Its 2009 Shortlists, announced last month, feature several of the universe's finest talents in a trio of categories. This year's chairperson, Josephine Hart, remarked (in The Guardian) that she "sensed a renaissance in poetry, which was immensely heartening . . . Poetry is language at its best, the highest literary art form and increasingly people are turning in these challenging times to a place they can find wisdom and beauty and without wanting to sound too pious -- truth. That's young people and old."

Created in 1991, the award came into existence to honour contemporary world-class works as well as to enlarge and expand the genre's audience and importance (ensuring its news reaches those desperately in need of same). Past recipients include Robin Robertson (who -- you heard it here first -- according to my sources, shall soon release his eagerly awaited new volume), Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Thom Gunn, Alice Oswald and Mick Imlah (the beloved one-time TLS poetry editor who, incidentally, posthumously occupied a finalist slot on this year's International Griffin Prize for The Lost Leader).

Forward founder William Sieghart proudly and justifiably enthused that "the rude health of the UK's contemporary poetry scene" resides in the fact the foundation received 109 submissions in the Best Collection category and 57 in Best First Collection, while 120 Best Single Poems came across the transom.

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Announced Oct. 7, one of the Best Collection contenders (Don Paterson, Sharon Olds, Glyn Maxwell, Hugo Williams, Sean O'Brien, Christopher Reid or Peter Porter) shall pocket a cool £10,000. The complete roster for all three categories -- as well as further info on the prestigious awards and subsequent anthologies -- can be viewed here.

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