Creative Writing alumni shortlisted for major poetry prize

16 June 2017

Richard Georges has been shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection for his collection Make Us All Islands, which is published by Shearsman Books.
Richard Georges has been shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection for his collection Make Us All Islands, which is published by Shearsman Books.

Two Aberystwyth University Creative Writing alumni have been shortlisted for the 2017 edition of the prestigious Forward Prizes for Poetry.

Department of English and Creative Writing graduates Richard Georges and Maria Apichella are finalists for The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection.

Described as the poetry equivalent of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, the Forward Prizes for Poetry are the most coveted awards for poetry published in Britain and Ireland.

Richard graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from Aberystwyth in 2007. Originally from Port of Spain, Trinidad, he works as a writer, editor and lecturer in the British Virgin Islands.

He has been shortlisted for his collection Make Us All Islands, published by Shearsman Books.

Maria studied at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels at Aberystwyth and was awarded a PhD in Creative Writing in 2015. She is currently writing short stories, a memoir and children’s fiction and teaches with the University of Maryland, University College, Europe.

Maria has been shortlisted for her collection Psalmody which is published by Eyewear Publishing.

Dr Louise Marshall, Head of the Department of English & Creative Writing said: “The Department of English and Creative Writing are absolutely delighted with the fantastic achievements of our former students, Maria Apichella and Richard Georges, in being shortlisted for the Forward Prize for the best first poetry collection 2017. Maria’s former supervisor, Prof Matthew Francis, is particularly proud; he himself was shortlisted for the Forward Best First collection prize in 1996. We excitedly await the announcement of the winners in September and wish both Maria and Richard all the very best for the awards ceremony.”

Set up in 1991 by philanthropist William Sieghart to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience, The Forward Prizes for Poetry are awarded to published poets for work in print in the last year.

The three prizes; £10,000 for Best Collection, £5,000 for Best First Collection and £1,000 for Best Single Poem; are described by the organisers as “unique in honouring both the work of established poets and the debuts of brilliant unknowns”.

This year’s judging panel is chaired by Andrew Marr, journalist and television presenter, and includes poets Ian Duhig, Sandeep Parmar and Mona Arshi, and artist Chris Riddell.

Past Forward Prizes winners include Claudia Rankine, Thom Gunn, Seamus Heaney, Alice Oswald, Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy and Kathleen Jamie.

Last year’s Forward Prizes winners were Vahni Capildeo, Tiphanie Yanique and Sasha Dugdale.

The winners of the 2017 Forward Prizes will be announced at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London on 21 September 2017.

The Department of English and Creative Writing at Aberystwyth University offers a range of single and joint honours degrees in Creative Writing.

At postgraduate levels there are opportunities to study for one year Masters (MA) degrees in Creative Writing and Literary Studies, and a three year PhD in Creative Writing.