Poetry inspired by Hillsborough inquests shortlisted for award

Poet composite Image copyright Forward Arts Foundation/Smokestack Books
Image caption David Cain said his poetry separated the emotion of witnesses from "legal jargon" and news headlines

A poet who found "humanity" and "beauty" in witness statements from the Hillsborough disaster has been shortlisted for a £5,000 prize.

David Cain's Truth Street collection uses evidence from the second Hillsborough inquests, held between 2014 and 2016.

The 46-year-old said his poetry separated the emotion of witnesses from "legal jargon" and news headlines.

He is shortlisted for a Forward Prize for a best first collection.

Mr Cain, from Luton, said he was struck by the language used by eyewitnesses giving evidence to the inquests into the disaster at the 1989 FA Cup semi-final, which claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool fans.

One poem likens the movement of fans into the ground to "molten lava flowing down a hillside".

It includes the lines: "Wave after wave coming in from behind you. There was no going back."

"There was a real humanity and indeed beauty in these words, and I wanted to try and rescue those fragile lines from all the legal jargon, and also the headline news verdicts," said Mr Cain.

Image caption The people who lost their lives in the Hillsborough disaster

Mr Cain's work, first performed in 2016, is in the running for the Felix Dennis Prize, which will be awarded in October.

As it unveiled the shortlist, organiser the Forward Arts Foundation said 2018 marked the best year on record for the sale of poetry books and two thirds of buyers were below the age of 34.

Poet Andrew McMillan, who is on the judging panel, said: "Poetry remains high art but has come down from its high shelf - its boundaries have expanded."

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