Forward Prize 2020/Brodsky Museum – Poetry News Roundup January 31st

We end the week here on My Poetic Side with a look at the Forward Poetry Prize for 2020. We also have an article about the new museum in St. Petersburg that will be dedicated to the poet Joseph Brodsky.

2020 Forward Prize Launched

The judging panel for the 2020 Forward Prize has been announced. Alexandra Harris, the writer, social historian and critic has been announced as the chair of the panel of judges, which will be made up of 3 poets and the journalist and novelist Leaf Arbuthnot.

There are three categories in the Forward Prize; the Best Collection which carries the biggest award £10,000, the Felix Dennis Prize which is awarded for the Best First Collection and has a prize of £5,000 and the Best Single Poem which is worth £1,000.

The competition will be open from now until 9th March for submissions. The winners for each category will be announced on 25th October at the Southbank Centre.

Museum Dedicated to Joseph Brodsky to Open In St. Petersburg

A museum based in the old communal apartment where Joseph Brodsky once lived will be opening in May.  This venture is the result of years of fundraising and negotiations and will be based in St. Petersburg, the poet”s hometown.

Brodsky, a Nobel laureate, lived at 24 Liteiny Prospekt with his parents until he was forced to emigrate in 1972.

It is hoped that the official opening of the museum will take place on the poets birthday, 24th May. Until that date, there will however be a few limited events and excursions taking place until the renovation work has been completed.

Unfortunately, the opening was delayed for a number of years because the current residents of the building refused to sell. However, this was finally overcome as an obstacle. The sponsors of the project purchase all but one of the rooms of the apartment and also an adjoining flat in order to provide enough room for the museum.

The apartment played an important part in Brodsky’s life, he wrote an essay “In a Room and a Half” from here in 1986.

Working with the Anna Akhmatova museum there has been extensive work on the apartment including replacing the floorboards which creaked. Akhmatova was not just a friend to Brodsky, but also a mentor and whilst the new museum ins being renovated the Akhmatova museum has been the home of a reconstruction of Brodsky’s study from his home in Massachusetts.

Considered one of the best Russian poets of the 20th Century in 1987 Brodsky was awarded a Nobel Prize for Literature. However, life did not go smoothly for him in Russia, he was denounced during a show trial and given a sentence which was eventually commuted thanks to the intervention of the international literary community. He spent two years in the far north in exile and then returned to Leningrad as it was called at the time. From here he emigrated to the US. He never saw his parents again or returned to the Soviet Union.

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