Gaia Books and the National Trust are to sponsor The Nature Writing Prize for Working-Class Writers this year.
The winner will receive editorial feedback from Octopus imprint Gaia, a stay with National Trust Holidays worth £500, and a nature writing commission with the organisation based on the stay, plus publication in the Countryman magazine and a selection of Little Toller Books of their choosing.
The prize, which aims to breaks down class barriers in writing, was set up in 2020 by the writer Natasha Carthew (pictured) to create opportunity for working-class nature writers across the UK. It is free to enter and encourages self-identifying working-class writers from all over the UK to submit 1,000 words to the competition, which closes on 7th June.
Carthew said: "It's important to me that this prize is accessible, breaking down barriers and providing a platform to celebrate the diversity that exists in nature writing, whether it’s non-fiction, poetry, field notes, memoir or travelogue; celebrating nature while providing a platform for underrepresented writers. Nature writing exists because we as individuals want to understand our own engagement and our place within it. It decentralises us and reminds us that we are not the only focus or thing of importance on the planet. The best nature writing conveys a clear sense of place and focuses on the natural world and our human relationship with it.
"I set up the prize to burst the stereotype of what it means to be a nature writer and to celebrate the diversity of authentic voices in our country, the kind of working class-voice that doesn't just come from the country but the towns, cities, housing estates, parks and the overlooked landscapes such as industrial, train tracks, wasteland, everywhere."
Stephanie Jackson, publisher at Octopus, said: "Natasha’s work to expand and extend the diversity of the nature writing community – finding new voices in a growing category that’s such an enriching part of life for anyone who’s able to be a part of it – is so important that we felt we had to find a way to support it. We’re delighted to participate in the judging of this year’s Nature Writing Prize for Working-Class Writers, to collaborate with Natasha and the National Trust and to encourage writers keen to explore this vibrant genre and find their place within it."
Celia Richardson, director of communications at the National Trust, added: "Like nature, writing is for everyone. We’re very pleased to support this prize which supports nature writing by people who see themselves as working class, giving a platform to unsung writers and untold stories. The pandemic has thrown into focus the everyday human relationship with the natural world. Now more than ever we need a breadth of voices exploring that enduring connection."
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