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The Laurel Prize 2022 Longlist

UK Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, and the Poetry School, are delighted to announce the longlist for the third year of nature and ecopoetry collection award The Laurel Prize. Simon generously donates the £5,000 honorarium he receives annually from the Queen to fund the First Prize. Run by the Poetry School, the prize is awarded annually for the best published collection of environmental or nature poetry. This year the Prize opened to submissions in the English language from poets globally and the list reflects this. The longlist, which was judged this year by the poets Glyn Maxwell (Chair) and Elena Karina Byrne and Tishani Doshi, is as follows (in no particular order):

Polly Atkin, Much with Body (Seren Books)

"This is serious play indeed." - Vahni Capildeo

Emily Berry, Unexhausted Time (Faber & Faber)

"Emily Berry has a refreshingly free, not to say incendiary, approach to poetry." - The Observer

Jemma Borg, Wilder (Pavilion Books)

"Wilder enacts a subtle illumination between the crepuscular and haptic, and the dazzling and epigrammatic." - Linda France

Steve Ely, The European Eel (Longbarrow Press)

"A remarkable poem: fresh, real, and truly radical. Read it!" ​ David Morley

Forrest Gander, Your Nearness (Arc Publications)

" of the finest, and most vigilant, poets working in English today." - John Burnside

Linda France, The Knucklebone Floor (Smokestack Books)

"This is Linda France at the height of her powers." - Sean O'Brien

Helen Hajnoczky, Frost and Pollen (Invisible Publishing)

"An impressive entry in Hajnoczky’s already quite impressive body of work." - Winnipeg Free Press

Rebecca Hawkes, Meat Lovers (Auckland University Press)

"This collection presents a strong, distinctive, and, in some places, a startling and disturbing voice." - Jane Stafford

Sylvia Legris, Garden Physic (Granta)

"Sensuous, brainy and cardiovascular, Garden Physic is a cutting-edge ode to plants, teeming with human knowledge and natural mystery." - The Guardian

Alice Miller, What Fire (Pavilion Poetry)

"Alice Miller takes a critical lens to our current malaise, tackling the current decline of our climate and planet to the way technology has both advanced and stunted human civilizations. A collection which feels as if it’s somehow speaking to us all." - Anthony Anaxagorou

Cynthia Miller, Honorifics (Nine Arches Press)

"This is the kind of poetry that leaves the poet in me dizzy with jealousy and admiration." - Jacob Sam-La Rose

Caleb Parkin, This Fruiting Body (Nine Arches Press)

"...a stimulating, exciting, cerebral collection of poetry" - Poetic Justice

Sumana Roy, V.I.P (Shearsman Books)

"Sumana Roy is one of the most original writers in Indian English today, whose writing easily slides out of the clutches of genres." - The Indian Express

Penelope Shuttle, Lyonesse (Bloodaxe Books)

"Penelope Shuttle gives us a collection packed with Cornish myth and magic, overlaid with environmental warning, and a deeper sense of yearning for what has gone." – Greg Freeman, Write Out Loud

Stephanie Sy-Quia, Amnion (Granta)

"Amnion is unlike almost anything I've read - so alive it seems to squirm to the touch." - Will Harris

Mark Totterdell, Mollusc (The High Window Press)

"...a delightful book by a resourceful poet, who always keeps his eye on the subject." - London Grip

Katharine Towers, Oak (Picador)

"Limpid and beautifully paced, Katharine Towers’ Oak draws the reader on from line to line and page to page." - London Grip

Jack Underwood, A Year in the New Life (Faber & Faber)

"I was done in by these poems, but I really lived as I read them; each one holding life and time in a balletics of stress and flow." - Holly Pester

Sarah Watkinson, Photovoltaic (Graft Poetry)

"...a refreshing attempt to bring scientific understanding and perception into the arena of poetry." - London Grip

Sarah Westcott, Bloom (Pavilion Poetry)

"Bloom is crammed with pleasures for the reader and also with provocations to thought." - London Grip

The prize awards £5,000 (1st prize), £2,000 (2nd prize) and £1,000 (3rd prize). There’s also a £500 for Best First Collection. In addition each of the winners will receive a commission from the AONB to create a poem based in their favourite landscape.

The ceremony will take place at the Birmingham Hippodrome on Friday 9 September, 5–6.30pm as part of the Contains Strong Language Festival launch. The ceremony will be live at Birmingham Hippodrome 5–6.30pm and it will be livestreamed. The Verb will also be dedicated to the Prize that week and there will be considerable radio coverage. During the day judges Glyn Maxwell and Elena Karina Byrne will be running workshops and all three judges will be reading at the ecodome at PoliNations 2.30–3.30pm (introduced by Poet Laureate and Prize founder Simon Armitage).

You can purchase the longlisted titles here, with 25% off for PBS members!

Simon Armitage, UK Poet Laureate
“Phenomenal to see another world-wide and world-class selection of books reflecting poetry’s global response to the planet’s precarious environmental situation.”

Sally Carruthers, Director, Poetry School
“As ever, it is an honour and privilege to support the battle against climate crisis through some of the planet’s most innovative, inspiring and impactful words on the subject. These collections reach the heart of the issues and thus all of us.’’

Glyn Maxwell, 2022 Chair, Poet & Writer
“Our judging process this year was a four-hour marathon Zoom across three time-zones, all of which have experienced extreme weather conditions in the last year or so, all directly linked to climate change. Reading so many rich, original and impassioned collections in this context was enthralling, to see that far scattering of solitary thinkers suddenly gathered into a host to sing, to dream, to inform, to remind, to face together the fast-arriving future.”

Tishani Doshi, Poet & Dancer
“The collections we read for this year's Laurel Prize contained a multitude of visions and voices. The very best of them moved beyond elegy and questions of survival into the loamy territory of startle and wonder, renewing poetry's pact with the lyric. To stop and ask what it means to be alive and what sustains us, giving us language to consider our planet anew.”

Elena Karina Byrne, Poet, Essayist, & Screenwriter
“The incredibly diverse Laurel Prize writers remind us that ecopoetics investigates a wider range of personal, cultural, social, and political concerns. Where language is as alive as the Earth, the poets acknowledge there is no dispassionate separation between our internal and external worlds. As the climate crisis endangers all life, it changes our fundamental perspective regarding what it means to engage with the natural environment and with each other. These revelatory books fill me with inspired gratitude and hope.”

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