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Kei Miller: My productivity is linked to what could be called a disability

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The Forward prize nominee on his ADHD, dual identity and latest poetry collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion

Jeremy Paxman recently outraged the poetry world by using his chairmanship of one of its premier prizes as a pulpit for denouncing an art form that, he said, had connived at its own irrelevance. Announcing the shortlists for this years Forward Prizes, he called for an inquisition into the purpose of poetry, saying poets should talk more to ordinary people. The cluster of events around National Poetry Day this week will certainly strain his thesis, from a national slam final at the Royal Albert Hall to the Forward prizes themselves, at the Southbank Centre in London.

One poet who will be hoping that Paxman stands by his views is a 35-year-old Jamaican whose work would appear to do what the broadcaster demands. Kei Miller is among five poets in contention for the 2014 Forward prize for best collection, which will be awarded on Tuesday. This month, he was named as one of 20 Next Generation poets, a zeitgeist-defining list produced every 10 years by the Poetry Book Society. He is also shortlisted, along with Man Booker laureate Eleanor Catton and Baileys winning novelist Eimear McBride, for the multi-disciplinary Dylan Thomas prize for writers below the age of 40.

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