Featuring work from big and tiny presses, the nominees were hailed by chair of judges Jeanette Winterson for 'lit-up living language'
The shortlists for the 2013 Forward poetry prizes have been announced, reflecting modern preoccupations ranging from the internet dating to 21st-century psalms and karaoke bars to documentary poems.
The shortlist for the £10,000 best collection award is headed by Michael Symmons Roberts, who won the Whitbread award for poetry in 2004, and Glyn Maxwell, whose collection Pluto examines the language of dating websites: "Together would be easy … We sent some messages, Lynn & Greg, made a date … She texted me some shite / about her kid being ill and I had to write / I hope he gets better soon while harbouring doubts / he was ever born."
Rebecca Goss is shortlisted for Her Birth, an autobiographical sequence about the poet's daughter, who was born with an incurable heart condition; Sinead Morrissey for Parallax, her examination of what's caught and lost in the act of photography; and Jacob Polley for The Havocs, a collection that conjures horror and unsettling comedy from traditional forms.
The chair of judges, Jeanette Winterson, hailed a "powerful year for poetry".
"We made our choices looking for poems that used a lit-up living language and had a sense of purpose," she said.
The shortlist for the £5,000 best first collection prize includes Dan O'Brien's War Reporter, inspired by interviews he conducted with a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist. Also in the running are collections published by two tiny presses – Adam White's Accurate Measurements is published by Doire Press in Connemara, while Steve Ely's collection, Oswald's Book of Hours, is published by Smokestack Press in Middlesborough. They are pitted against three of the biggest publishers in UK poetry: Faber & Faber for Emily Berry's Dear Boy – a wittily disturbing soliloquy; Bloodaxe Books for Hannah Lowe's Chick; and Seren Books for She Inserts the Key, a collection that juxtaposes sparrowhawks and the Bank of England, crafted by former City solicitor Marianne Burton.
On the £1,000 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem shortlist are Patience Agbabi, CJ Allen, Nick MacKinnon, Rosie Shepperd and Hugo Williams.
The shortlists come at a troubled time for poetry publishers, who have suffered poor sales in recent years, with collections of poems by a single author particularly hard it. Official industry figures from Nielsen BookScan show a sharp decline in sales of 15.9% last year, meaning that the total market for poetry books in the UK was worth just £6.7m in 2012. Independent publisher Salt announced that it would cease publishing collections by single authors, saying they were no longer "viable".
Winterson is joined on the panel by the poets Paul Farley and Sheenagh Pugh, the actor Samuel West and journalist David Mills.
The awards will be announced at a ceremony in London's Southbank Centre on 1 October 2013.
THE FORWARD PRIZE FOR BEST COLLECTION
Her Birth by Rebecca Goss (Carcanet Press, Northern House Imprint)
Pluto by Glyn Maxwell (Pan Macmillan, Picador Books)
Parallax by Sinead Morrissey (Carcanet Press)
The Havocs by Jacob Polley (Pan Macmillan, Picador Books)
Drysalter by Michael Symmons Roberts (Jonathan Cape, Random House)
THE FELIX DENNIS PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST COLLECTION
Dear Boy by Emily Berry (Faber)
She Inserts the Key by Marianne Burton (Seren Books)
Oswald's Book of Hours by Steve Ely (Smokestack Books)
Chick by Hannah Lowe (Bloodaxe Books)
War Reporter by Dan O'Brien (CB Editions)
Accurate Measurements by Adam White (Doire Publishing)
THE FORWARD PRIZE FOR BEST SINGLE POEM
The Doll's House by Patience Agbabi (Poetry Review)
Explaining the Plot of 'Blade Runner' to My Mother Who Has Alzheimer's by CJ Allen (Coffee-House Poetry, Troubadour International Poetry Prize)
The Metric System by Nick MacKinnon (Warwick Review, University of Warwick)
A Seedy Narrative or Moments of Lyrical Stillness? by Rosie Shepperd (The Poetry Business)
From the Dialysis Ward by Hugo Williams (London Review of Books)