Kei Miller wins Forward poetry prize Judges praise Miller’s ‘distinctive voice’ as The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way To Zion takes £10,000 prize

Kei Miller

The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way To Zion took the £10,000 prize, with judges relishing Miller’s ability to “defy expectations” and “set up oppositions only to undermine them”.

Miller, 35, who was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and financed his studies at Manchester Metropolitan University by winning poetry slams, currently teaches creative writing at Royal Holloway college, University of London.

The collection features a mapmaker who speaks the Queen’s English but sucks his teeth like a Jamaican, and a “Rasta-man” with a PhD who believes “the mapmaker’s work is to make visible/ all them things that shoulda never exist in the first place/ like the conquest of pirates, like borders/ like the viral spread of governments”.

The chair of the judges, the historian and broadcaster Jeremy Paxman, said: “Kei is doing something you don’t come across often: this is a beautifully voiced collection which struck us all with its boldness and wit. Many poets refer to multiple realities, different ways of observing the world. Kei doesn’t just refer, he articulates them”.