Forward Prize top award for Centre for New Writing’s Jason Allen-Paisant

Jason Allen-Paisant

Writer Jason Allen-Paisant has won the Best Collection award 2023 at the Forward Prize for Poetry.

The University of Manchester Senior Lecturer’s ‘Self-Portrait as Othello’ is a dazzling poetic memoir, which imaginatively places the figure of Othello in the urban landscapes of modern London, Paris and Venice, inventing the kinds of narrative he might tell about his intersecting identities. 

Allen-Paisant collected the Forward Prize for Best Collection on Monday night at an awards ceremony in Leeds hosted by Poet Laureate and Manchester graduate Simon Armitage.

John McAuliffe, Professor of Poetry and Director of Creative Manchester, said:

Congratulations to Jason for claiming the Best Collection prize in the Forward Prize this year. It’s a defining achievement to win such a prestigious prize, which will bring many more readers to his remarkable poems. As his colleague at the Centre for New Writing, and as his editor at Carcanet, it is great to see Jason’s ‘Self-Portrait as Othello’ gaining the recognition it deserves.

The news also celebrates the success of University of Manchester-affiliated Carcanet Press: ‘Self-Portrait as Othello’ is the Jamaican poet’s second book with Carcanet and has also been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize 2023.

Chair of Judges for the Best Collections panel, Bernardine Evaristo said:

An exhilarating and propulsive read that sweeps through several European cities that become subject to the black male gaze, changing what is seen and who is heard. Playful, intimate and allusive, these poems interrogate masculinity and history, experiment with the myth of Othello, mourn absent fathers, and offer us a refreshing mash-up of languages that regenerate poetry so that it feels freshly minted.

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