Lancaster woman wins national environmental literature competition
The winners of a new prize, which called for essays and poems that illustrate how literature can be a revelatory and imaginative force to help us see the natural world – and our place in it – differently, have been announced.
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.
First place is the essay category went to Lancaster resident Nicola Carter for her essay ‘Fragments on the Mountain Edge’.
Leonie Charlton, of Taynuilt, came second with ‘Recovering Ground’ and Anna Fleming, of Edinburgh, was highly commended for ‘Dinorwig: Play and Resistance in a Post Capitalist Landscape.’
First place in the poetry category went to Jane Burn, of Consett, Co. Durham for her poem ‘Love Affair with Next Door’s Birch’
JR Carpenter, of Settle, came second with ‘what I’m after. Is a language’ and George Richards, of Ledbury, was highly commended for ‘Boy Surfacing’ jointly with Rose Proudfoot – Warrington for ‘Trails’.
The UK-wide environmental literature competition awards event took place at Kendal Mountain Literature Festival on Saturday (Nov 20).
Judges looked for essays and poems that showed 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 received cash prizes and works will be published alongside an accompanying feature in Emergence magazine, and in the Saraband nature anthology North Country, in 2022.
Chairing the panel of judges was the co-founder of the Eden Project and executive vice chair of Eden Project Ltd and executive chairman of Eden Project International Ltd Sir Tim Smit KBE, who joined the event by videolink.
He said: “I am delighted with the rich seam of writing the Future Places Prize has uncovered. The entrants have given us all great pleasure, and the quality of the judges comments are works of art in their own right.”
Author and professor of writing in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University Jenn Ashworth judged the essays.
Of the winning entry Prof Ashworth said: “This is a bold, innovative account of adit exploration and interconnectedness - the essayist reminds us that the climate crisis is also a spiritual crisis.”
Senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Exeter Dr John Wedgwood Clarke judged the poetry section.
Of the winning entry Dr Clarke said: “What I love about this poem is the way it carries me into the heart of its matter with such energy, fluency and precision.”
Awards organiser Karen Lloyd, writer in residence with Lancaster University’s Future Places Centre, said: “‘The Future Places Environmental Essay and Poetry Prize considers anew the ways in which humans both help and harm their local environments.
“If we are to successfully navigate our future relationships with the world around us – a world that we know well that we have failed utterly - then literature, with its attentive, generous, far-reaching capacity for communication, can and does exist as a potent force for exploring change, and for re-negotiating our relationships with nature.
“Bringing together our partners and sponsors has created a kind of dream team of voices that place our future environments at the heart of the matter.”