Caroline Bird was born in 1986 and grew up in Leeds before moving to London in 2001.
Caroline won The Forward Prize for best poetry collection in 2020. She was shortlisted for the Costa Prize 2020, the TS Eliot Prize 2017, the Ted Hughes Award 2017, and the Dylan Thomas Prize twice in 2008 and 2010. She was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2014. She has also won an Eric Gregory Award (2002) and the Foyle Young Poet of the Year award two years running (1999, 2000), and was a winner of the Poetry London Competition in 2007, the Peterloo Poetry Competition in 2004, 2003 and 2002. Caroline was on the shortlist for Shell Woman Of The Future Awards 2011.
Caroline has had six collections of poetry published by Carcanet. Her first collection Looking Through Letterboxes (published in 2002 when she was only 15) is a topical, zesty and formally delightful collection of poems built on the traditions of fairy tale, fantasy and romance. Her second collection, Trouble Came to the Turnip, was published in September 2006 to critical acclaim. Watering Can, her third collection published in November 2009 celebrates life as an early twenty-something with comedy, wordplay and bright self-deprecation. Her fourth collection, The Hat-Stand Union, was described by Simon Armitage as ‘spring-loaded, funny, sad and deadly.’ Her fifth collection, In These Days of Prohibition (published July 2017) was shortlisted for the 2017 TS Eliot Prize and the 2017 Ted Hughes Award. Her sixth collection, The Air Year was published in February 2020, and was book of the month in The Telegraph, book of the year in the Guardian, shortlisted for the Costa Prize, and winner of the Forward Prize.
Bird’s poems have been published in several anthologies and journals including Poetry Magazine, PN Review, Poetry Review and The North magazine. Several of her poems and a commissioned short story, Sucking Eggs, have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 3. She was one of the five official poets at London Olympics 2012. Her poem, The Fun Palace, which celebrates the life and work of Joan Littlewood, is now erected on the Olympic Site outside the main stadium.
In recent years, Caroline has given poetry performances at Aldeburgh Festival, Latitude Festival, the Manchester Literature Festival, the Wellcome Collection, the Royal Festival Hall, the Wordsworth Trust, Cheltenham Festival, and Ledbury Festival, amongst others.
Caroline Bird began writing plays as a teenager when she was the youngest ever member of the Royal Court Young Writer’s Programme, tutored by Simon Stephens. In 2011 Caroline was invited to take part in Sixty Six Books by the Bush Theatre. She wrote a piece inspired by Leviticus, directed by Peter Gill. In February 2012, her Beano-inspired musical, The Trial of Dennis the Menace was performed in the Purcell Room at the Southbank Centre.
Caroline’s new version of The Trojan Women premiered at the Gate Theatre at the end of 2012 to wide critical acclaim. Caroline’s play Chamber Piece featured as Show 3 in the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith’s Secret Theatre season, premiering in October 2013, before touring the country. In 2013, Caroline was short-listed for Most Promising New Playwright at the Off-West-End Awards. In Christmas 2015, her re-twisted telling of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz premiered at Northern Stage, and received a four star review in The Times.
Caroline is also an enthusiastic leader of poetry workshops. In addition to working in primary and secondary schools, she is also a regular teacher at the Arvon Foundation. She is one of the writers-in-residence for the charity First Story.