Lancaster University: Environmental essay and poetry prize looks to ‘Future Places’

A new prize calls for essays and poems that illustrate how literature can be a revelatory and imaginative force for helping us to see the natural world – and our place in it – differently.

The Future Places Environmental Essay and Poetry Prize is a partnership between Lancaster University’s Future Places Centre, Eden North, Kendal Mountain Literature Festival, Iceland and Saraband publishers, and seeks essays and poetry that address ideas of regeneration and hope for the natural world.

The environmental literature competition is UK wide, and there will be an awards event at Kendal Mountain Literature Festival in November.

Judges will look for essays and poems that show literary flair as a vehicle for communicating that both environmental and human change is not only possible but is actually happening now.

The winning entries will receive cash prizes and be published alongside an accompanying feature in Emergence magazine, and in the Saraband nature anthology North Country, in 2022.

Chairing the panel of judges is Co-founder of the Eden Project, Executive Vice Chair of Eden Project Ltd and Executive Chairman of Eden Project International Ltd Sir Tim Smit KBE.

Author and Professor of Writing in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University Jenn Ashworth will judge the essays and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Exeter John Wedgwood Clarke the poetry section.

Sir Tim Smit commented: “In our view this creates a magnificent stage on which to amplify special talents to work their magic on audiences both new and old. This prize is intended to encourage the sentiment that Nature writing can reach a wide audience if given the attention and support it deserves.”

“The FPC prize proposes that there are innovative ways of communicating our human relationships with the natural world, where literature is a highly potent force for communicating the idea that regeneration – in all its widest interpretations – is entirely possible.”

Jenn Ashworth added: “The time for imaginative, daring and boldly original writing that attends to the natural world has never been more urgent. I am looking forward to reading essays that surprise, provoke and challenge and I’m particularly interested in reading entries from writers whose voices are under-represented in nature writing and our wider literary ecosystem.”

And John Wedgwood Clarke said: “As a judge, I’ll be looking out for poems that play according to the rules they set themselves, whatever they may be, to perfection. While I’m open-minded and very much looking forward to being surprised, I’d like to see work that recognises our species as being intermeshed with the ecosystems we depend upon for life.”

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