‘We are facing the most catastrophic threat to the future of our planet that we have ever encountered.’

Over the course of my ten year Laureateship I want one of the headline projects to be a prize or award that recognises and encourages the resurgence of nature and environmental writing, currently taking place in poetry.

The new wave of nature writing in non-fiction has been well documented over recent years but not enough attention has been paid to a similar move in poetry, with climate crisis and environmental concerns clearly provoking this important strand of work.

I have established 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. The Prize will dovetail and partner with The Ginkgo Prize which rewards best single poems.

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.

Building on the success of its inaugural year, the Laurel Prize will now become an international award for nature poetry written in English. This is also a way of recognising the global importance of environmentalism, and drawing together concerned voices from across the planet.

I will donate my annual Laureate Honorarium of £5,000 towards the prize money each year.

Simon Armitage., Poet Laureate

The Laurel Prize

First Prize – £5,000
Second Prize – £2,000
Third Prize – £1,000
Prize for Best First Collection – £500

The Laurel Prize will open for submissions 1st January 2021 – 16th April 2021

We will be accepting submissions from publishers of collections that were published between March 16th 2020 – 16th April 2021. We are now international, accepting collections written in the english language worldwide. Please note we will not be accepting any self published collections.

Our Judges

Maura Dooley
Maura Dooley2021 Chair, Poet & Writer

Maura Dooley is a British poet and writer. She has published 5 collections of Poetry and edited several anthologies. She is winner of the Eric Gregory Award in 1987, the Cholmondeley Award in 2016 and was shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize (single poem) in 1997 and again in 2015.Her poetry collections Life Under Water (2008) and Kissing A Bone (1996) were shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize.Lawyer has picked him as one of the top 100 lawyers in the UK. He was named as one of the 1,000 most influential people in London and has twice won Leader of the Year at the Business Green Awards.

Image Credit: Isadora Dooley Hunter

James Thornton
James ThorntonClientEarth Founder Lawyer & Poet

James Thornton is the founding CEO of ClientEarth. He launched ClientEarth in 2007, sparking fundamental change in the way environmental protections are made and enforced across Europe. Now operating globally, ClientEarth uses advocacy, litigation and research to address the greatest challenges of our time – including nature loss and climate change. In the years since founding ClientEarth, James has developed an ever-growing team of environmental lawyers following his innovative approach to defend the oceans, protect forests and the people who depend on them, and tackle the climate crisis at its root. The New Statesman has named James as one of 10 people who could change the world. The Lawyer has picked him as one of the top 100 lawyers in the UK. He was named as one of the 1,000 most influential people in London and has twice won Leader of the Year at the Business Green Awards. The Financial Times awarded him its Special Achievement accolade at the FT Innovative Lawyers Awards.

Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and video film maker. Awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, 2014, her six collections include Over the Moon and her latest, Luck Is the Hook, with poems featured widely on radio and television, as well as the London Underground and Mumbai buses.

Image Credit: Ayesha Dharker

Imtiaz Dharker
Imtiaz DharkerMulti-Award Winning Poet & Filmmaker

Our Judges

Simon Armitage
Simon ArmitageUK Poet Laureate

Simon Armitage is the UK Poet Laureate and was Oxford Professor of Poetry (2015-2019). His numerous accolades include an Ivor Novello Award for song-writing in the BAFTA-winning film Feltham Sings and the 2018 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Armitage has published 28 collections of poetry, including his latest, Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic, and his acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. He also writes extensively for television and radio, and is the author of two novels and the non-fiction bestsellers All Points North, Walking Home and Walking Away. His theatre works include The Last Days of Troy, performed at Shakespeare’s Globe, London, in 2014. He was appointed Professor of Poetry at Leeds University in 2017.


Image Credit: Peter James Millson

Robert Macfarlane
Robert MacfarlaneAuthor

Robert Macfarlane is the author of books about landscape, people, place and nature, including Mountains of the Mind, The Wild Places, The Old Ways, Landmarks and Underland. His The Lost Words: A Spell-Book, with the artist Jackie Morris, is widely used in primary and secondary schools across Britain. His work has been widely adapted for film, music, stage and radio. He is a Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge.

Moniza Alvi
Moniza AlviAward Winning Poet

Moniza Alvi was born in Lahore in 1954. She now lives in Norfolk. Her poetry collections include The Country at My Shoulder (OUP, 1993) which was shortlisted for the Whitbread and the T.S. Eliot poetry prizes, Europa (Bloodaxe, 2008) and At the Time of Partition (Bloodaxe, 2013), both also shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her most recent full-length collection is Blackbird, Bye Bye (Bloodaxe, 2018), a book unified by birds and inspired by her parents, the loss of her father and by his emigration from Pakistan.

Image Credit: Daniella Szendro – www.flickr.com/photos/daniellaszendro

Our Partners

Ginkgo Prize

Ginkgo Prize

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Poetry School

Poetry School

The Poetry Archive

The Poetry Archive

Kamini & Vindi Banga Family Trust

Kamini & Vindi Banga Family Trust

Kamini & Vindi Banga Family Trust

Landscapes for Life

Poetry School is a registered charity and a proud member of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisations.

The Prize is supported by the Poet Laureate’s Honorarium, a Founder Patron and lover of poetry and a variety of other individual donors and trusts and foundations. Without their generosity, the Prize would not be possible.

Logo designed by Clive Hicks-Jenkins