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Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 18:30 GMT 19:30 UK
Porter scoops top poetry prize
Peter Porter
Peter Porter came to England more than 50 years ago
Australian poet Peter Porter has won the UK's biggest annual poetry award for the first time.

Winners
Best collection - Peter Porter
Best first collection - Tom French
Best single poem - Medbh McGuckian
The renowned Australian poet netted this year's 10,000 Forward Prize for his collection Max Is Missing.

The judges' decision was unanimous.

"Porter is one of the most distinguished poets at work in Britain today," National Poetry Day and Forward Prizes founder William Sieghart said.

Mr Sieghart described the collection as "contemporary, witty, urbane and vibrant". Waterstone's 5,000 prize for the year's best first collection went to newcomer Tom French.

"Tom French takes on the burden of Irish history and poetry with eloquence and assurance and shows great promise for the future," Mr Sieghart said.

Medbh McGuckian won the 1,000 Tolman Cunard Prize for best single poem with She is in the Past, She Has This Grace.

Judging controversy

The winners were announced on Wednesday evening by Mr Sieghart, who chaired the judging panel.

The other judges were BBC arts correspondent Rosie Millard, poet Lavinia Greenlaw, Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement and Sean O'Brien, two-time winner of the Forward Prize.
Tom French
French won the prize for best first collection

They each read over 100 collections and almost 100 single poems to reach their decision.

Michael Donaghy chaired the first meeting of the judges earlier this year, but stepped down from his position amid accusations of bias.

Mr Donaghy, 2000's winner of the best collection prize, announced his resignation in July after publisher Neil Astley claimed the award propped up an elite literary clique.

Porter's career

Mr Porter was born in Brisbane in 1929 and has been writing poetry since he left school.

He came to England in 1951, and worked as a clerk, bookseller and an advertising writer while developing his literary career.
Cover of Max is Missing
Maxi is Missing was the unanimous favourite

In 1968, he became a full-time poet, journalist, reviewer and broadcaster.

In 1983, he won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize for his first collection, and in 1988 he won the Whitbread Poetry Award for the collection the Automatic Oracle.

See also:

08 Jul 02 | Entertainment
10 Oct 98 | Entertainment
07 Oct 99 | Entertainment
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