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The Laurel Prize 2020 – Winners!

Huge congratulations to the Winners announced on National Poetry Day 2020!

First Prize £5000 – Pascale Petit, Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe)

Second Prize £2000 – Karen McCarthy Woolf, Seasonal Disturbances (Carcanet)

Third Prize £1000 – Colin Simms, Hen Harrier (Shearsman)

Added! Best First Collection, £500 – Matt Howard, Gall (Rialto)

Sept 18, 2020: The three shortlisted titles were discussed in a special edition of Radio 3’s The Verb.

Aug 25, 2020 press release:   UK Poet Laureate,​ ​Simon Armitage​, and the P​oetry School​, are delighted to announce the shortlist for the inaugural ecopoetry prize, The Laurel Prize. The prize is funded by Simon Armitage out of his ​£​5,000 honorarium, which he receives annually from the Queen, and run by the Poetry School. It is awarded annually for the best published collection of environmental or nature poetry. The shortlist, which was judged this year by ​Laureate Simon Armitage and poets Moniza Alvi​ ​and ​Robert Macfarlane​, ​is as follows (in no particular order):
  • Colin Simms, ​Hen Harrier​ ​(Shearsman)
  • Pascale Petit, ​Mama Amazonica​ ​(Bloodaxe Books)
  • Karen McCarthy Woolf, ​Seasonal Disturbances​ (​ Carcanet)

The prize awards ​£5,000 (1st prize), £2,000 (2nd prize) and £1,000 (3rd prize). In addition, this year’s partner the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) ​are generously funding a commission for the 3 winners.

Simon Armitage, UK Poet Laureate
“Reading these books has been a hugely uplifting and moving experience. The strength of the list is testimony to the way that contemporary poetry is bearing witness to the fragile state of the planet and the importance of engaging with nature through detailed observation and considered language. These are collections that explore our deep and complex relationship with the world around us and our actions within it.”
Sally Carruthers, Director, Poetry School
“The Laurel Prize addresses the most critical issue facing humanity today – that of climate crisis. These strange times of COVID-19 lockdown have perhaps heightened our appreciation of the landscapes, species and ecosystems with which we share this planet and these volumes of poetry speak to us in a uniquely powerful way about these precious and fragile relationships.”
Moniza Alvi, Poet, Judge, The Laurel Prize
The standard of the list is extremely high, and the books exemplify the wide scope of the Laurel Prize. It has been thrilling to judge.”
Robert Macfarlane, Poet & Nature Writer, Judge, The Laurel Prize
“The Laurel Prize gives the lie to any old, staid understandings of ‘nature poetry’; the work here is singingly, variously alive to the complexities of modern nature, and to the experiences of hope, fear, wonder and horror in which our relations with the natural world are entangled.”
Howard Davies, Chief Executive of the National Association for UK Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs)​
“We are absolutely thrilled to be partnering with the Poetry School and Simon Armitage on both the Laurel Prize and Ginkgo Prize. The relationship between poetry and landscape goes back to the origins of language, and to interpret natural beauty artistically goes to the very root of what it means to be human. We all know how it feels to be literally stopped in our tracks by the wonder of nature – whether that be in a quiet woodland, before a roiling sea or in that quiet moment before a storm in a city park, and the Laurel prize nominees succeed in putting these almost inexpressible moments of wonder into words. Most of the UK population is within 30 minutes travel time of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and each AONB has its own distinctive landscape for everyone to seek their own inspiration.”
Peter Murray CBE, Founder and Executive Director of Yorkshire Sculpture Park
“Art, landscape and environmental concerns underpin the work at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and we strongly support the aims and aspirations of the Laurel Poetry Prize. Over the years, poetry has inspired many aspects of our work, and so we welcome this bold initiative instigated by Simon Armitage. The Laurel prize will not only highlight the quality and depth of talent in this country, but provide a new perspective on the significance of poetry at this moment of deep reflection.”

The Laurel Prize Longlist


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