UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, has announced a new poetry competition with awards going to the best collection of poems "with nature and environment at their heart". The Laurel Prize, part-funded by the £5,000 Honorarium he receives annually from the Queen, is also supported by a variety of friends and is hoping to run every year for at least the decade that he is laureate.
When he took over from Dame Carol Ann Duffy in May 2019, Simon said he wanted to use his new role to ensure poetry embraces major global issues, including climate change. Recognising that there is an increase in nature writing in an environmental context, The Laurel Prize has come about to encourage a return to poetry about nature in the same way.
" We are facing the most catastrophic threat to the future of our planet that we have ever encountered," said Simon, " I am establishing The Laurel Prize as an annual award for the best collection of nature or environmental poetry to highlight the climate crisis and raise awareness of the challenges and potential solutions at this critical point in our planet's life. In celebrating and rewarding this work, the Prize aims to encourage more of it, and to become part of the discourse and awareness about our current environmental predicament."
The competition, for residents of the UK and Republic of Ireland, opens on Monday 25th November 2019 and the first prize of £5,000 (as judged by nature writer Robert Macfarlane and the poet Moniza Alvi) will be awarded on 23rd May 2020 at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. There is a second prize of £2,000 and a third of £1,000. Find more information and details on how to enter here