Alice Oswald, Gillian Clarke, Karen McCarthy Woolf and Pascale Petit are among the poets longlisted for the inaugural Laurel Prize.
The prize is funded by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage out of his £5,000 honorarium and run by the Poetry School. It is awarded annually for the best published collection of environmental or nature poetry. This year's longlist was judged by Armitage alongside Moniza Alvi and Robert Macfarlane.
It features Sean Borodale's Asylum (Jonathan Cape), Elizabeth-Jane Burnett's Swims (Penned in the Margins), Gillian Clarke's Zoology (Penned in the Margins), Linda France's Reading the Flowers (Arc Publications) and Matt Howard's Gall (The Rialto).
Also on the list are Richard Osmond's Useful Verses (Pan Macmillan), Alice Oswald's Falling Awake (Jonathan Cape), Colin Simms' Hen Harrier (Shearsman), Meryl Pugh's Natural Phenomena (Penned in the Margins), Pascale Petit's Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe Books) and Karen McCarthy Woolf's Seasonal Disturbances (Carcanet).
Armitage said: “Reading these books has been a hugely uplifting and moving experience. The strength of the longlist 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.”
The prize-winner gets £5,000, with £2,000 for second place and £1,000 for third. In addition, this year’s partner the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are funding a commission for the three winners to write a poem inspired by the AONB closest to their heart.
A shortlist will be announed on 19th August and the Yorkshire Sculpture park will host a prize ceremony on a date to be confirmed later in the year.
Armitage will also be judging this year’s Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry, alongside poet and arts commissioning editor at the Times Jade Cuttle.
The prize is a paper free, international award for best single ecopoetry poem written in the English language. Submissions open on 31st July.