Skip to Content

Poets to define the next generation

7 June 2004

The list of 20 Next Generation Poets has just been announced. Ten years after the successful New Generation poets promotion, this new list is an attempt to put poetry back at the centre of the cultural landscape and to celebrate the work of these 20 exhilarating new voices. The original New Generation list had an age restriction, meaning that a number of important poets in their early forties were excluded from the list. This time there was no age restriction and poets were eligible if they had published their first collection during the decade from 1994 to 2004.

The Next Generation Poets are:

  • Patience Agbabi
  • Amanda Dalton
  • Nick Drake
  • Jane Draycott
  • Paul Farley
  • Leontia Flynn
  • Matthew Francis
  • Sophie Hannah
  • Tobias Hill
  • Gwyneth Lewis
  • Alice Oswald
  • Pascale Petit
  • Jacob Polley
  • Deryn Rees-Jones
  • Maurice Riordan
  • Robin Robertson
  • Owen Sheers
  • Henry Shukman
  • Catherine Smith
  • Jean Sprackland

Publishers entered 156 titles for the list, setting the judges a particularly difficult task. The judging panel was made up of a cross-section of people who enjoy reading poetry, not just poets, to give the list wider relevance. Chaired by Poet Laureate Andrew MotionEnglish poet, novelist and biographer; Poet Laureate of United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009; during his laureateship founded the Poetry Archive, an online resource of poems and audio recordings of poets reading their own work, the panel consisted of Simon Armitage, poet and writer; Bernardine Evaristo, poet and writer; Colin Greenwood, musician and member of Radiohead; A L Kennedy, novelist and critic; James Naughtie, broadcaster and writer; and Marie Robertson, keen poetry reader and member of the Poetry Book SocietySpecialist book club founded by T S Eliot in 1953, which aims to offer the best new poetry published in the UK and Ireland. Members buy at 25% discount. The PBS has a handsome new website at

Andrew Motion commented on the list:

'It's ten years since the highly successful New Generation promotion - time enough for a large number of significant new poets to have emerged and begun to make their mark. The Next Generation gathers twenty of them - and proves that contemporary poetry is thriving. Individually and collectively, these poets have a remarkable range, appeal and authority.'

The promotion was publicly funded by the Arts Council and managed by the Poetry Book Society, a book club for poetry lovers which was founded by T S Eliot in 1953. As well as library and bookshop promotions, there will be a series of events featuring the Next Generation poets taking place all over the UK during the second half of the year. More detailed information about the poets and the events, and a downloadable pdf of the reader's guide are available from the Poetry Book Society's new website, The Next Generation Poets' books will be available in libraries and can be purchased from bookshops or from the new website.