The Forward Prize is one of the most prestigious accolades in poetry, with this year’s shortlist for Best Collection celebrating a powerful year for poetry. Chair of judges Jeanette Winterson has noted that the nominees have all utilised a ‘lit-up living language’ in their poems, expressing ‘a sense of purpose’.
Her Birth, recently published by Carcanet/Northern House, is an autobiographical collection focused on Rebecca’s daughter Ella who was born in 2007 and was diagnosed with Severe Ebstein’s Anomaly, a rare and incurable heart condition. Ella lived for sixteen months, and the collection details her birth, short life and death, ending with an exploration of the joys and complexities that come with the birth of another child.
Rebecca’s poems in the collection have been hailed as ‘graceful’ by Bernard O’Donoghue and containing ‘pared-down precision and scorching intensity’ by Helen Dunmore, dealing with the difficult territories of grief and the loss of a child in a spare, haunting manner. The title poem of the collection featured in an especially moving Poet on Her Work in Issue 47 of The Reader, where Rebecca details the story of how she came to write the work and the emotional processes of doing so.
Other nominees for the 2013 Forward Prize are Michael Symmons Roberts, Glyn Maxwell, Sinead Morrissey and Jacob Polley. The winners of all categories will be announced in October.