The Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry, the biggest international prize for ecological, environmental and climate-concerned poetry, is now open and calling for entries from poets around the world competing to win £5,000 (first prize), £2,000 (2nd prize) or £1,000 (3rd prize).
Organised by the Poetry School, and judged by award-winning Mexican poet, activist, diplomat and former president of International PEN Homero Aridjis, alongside TS Eliot prize-winning poet Jen Hadfield, the Ginkgo Prize aims to highlight the role poetry can play in provoking awareness, insight and concern for the ecological imperatives of our time.
In addition, the Environmental Defenders Prize – a new subsidiary prize worth £500 – will announce a winner for the best poem addressing the theme of environmental activism. The Environmental Defenders Prize is presented in partnership with Global Witness, to raise awareness of their Environmental Activists Campaign. The winners of both prizes will have the opportunity to take part in a unique writing residency supported by the Cambridge Writing Retreat.
The announcement comes at an important moment for global climate consciousness, less than a fortnight after environmental activists Extinction Rebellion took to the streets to disrupt business as usual in London, resulting in over 1,000 arrests, while earlier this year school children all around the UK, inspired by Greta Thunberg, went on strike in protest against the government’s inaction over climate change.
“We are careening down a steep slope of extinctions,” says judge Homero Aridjis, “replacing the sea’s inhabitants with plastic bits, razing forests, wreaking havoc on the climate, choking on poisoned air, fouling our water. The emergency is global, but we’re playing Russian roulette with a planet now in intensive care.”
“I will be looking for poetry that can touch the heart and mind, that can move readers to amend their relationship with and behavior towards the Earth and its creatures. Send me poems that will spark a new consciousness.”
The prize, now in its second year, is generously funded by the Edward Goldsmith Foundation and was established in 2018 to commemorate the life and work of environmentalist Teddy Goldsmith on the 25th Anniversary of the publication of his seminal book, The Way.
Dido Whitehead, a trustee of the EGF and patron of the Ginkgo Prize, said, “I am hoping to see reflected in this year’s entrants a powerful, daring, emotional engagement with the ecological crisis that we are now facing. In the face of the latest information about climate change perhaps we need…. a poetry rebellion?”
The competition encourages poets from all backgrounds and abilities to interrogate and explore our built and natural environments, to challenge the global climate crisis and celebrate ecological beauty by lending creative space to the writing of poetry.
The competition closes on 15 September 2019 and the winners will be announced at a high-profile award ceremony on 22 November at Swedenborg House in Bloomsbury Square, London. The winning poems will be published in an e-book and a limited-edition eco-friendly pamphlet.
As part of the Prize programme, the Poetry School will also be running free ecopoetry workshops around the country, and publishing a series of essays by leading ecopoets, including Karen McCarthy Woolf, Daisy Lafarge, Richard Georges, Seán Hewitt, Srishti Krishnamoorthy-Cavell, Dom Bury and Isabel Galleymore.