‘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

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.

Image Credit: Isadora Dooley Hunter

James Thornton is the founding CEO of ClientEarth, an ecolawyer and a poet. He launched ClientEarth in 2007, sparking fundamental change in the way environmental protections are made and enforced across Europe. In the years since, James has developed an ever-growing global 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. James was named one of 10 people who could change the world and one of the 1,000 most influential people in London. James is a published writer and poet including The Feynman Challenge and Notes on a Mountain Village, composed of verses drawn from observations over twenty-five years of visiting his home in a French Pyrenean village.

James Thornton
James ThorntonClientEarth Founder Lawyer & Poet
Imtiaz Dharker
Imtiaz DharkerMulti-Award Winning Poet & Filmmaker

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

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.

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
Imtiaz DharkerMulti-Award Winning Poet & Filmmaker

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

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