My local poetry group, the Penistone Poets, are a small but dedicated band of writers. We used to meet once a week; lately it’s been a bit more sporadic, although we do hold a monthly open meeting as well. However, when one of the most dedicated members (and the one who has to travel furthest to get to the meetings) Sue Riley, scooped the £5,000 first prize in the Ginko poetry competition, you an imagine how excited we all were. The anthology containing her winning poem, A Polar Bear in Norilsk, can be downloaded for free here.
As their website explains, the Ginkgo Prize is a major international award for ecopoetry, funded by the Edward Goldsmith Foundation and organised by the Poetry School.
Every year, the competition awards £8,000 in prize money, provides writers’ residencies for the winners, and supports the development of ecopoetry through a programme of free workshops, and a series of incisive essays by leading ecological writers.
The award, initially called the Resurgence Prize, was first presented in 2015. It has been run by the Poetry School since 2017 and was relaunched as the Ginkgo Prize in 2018.
In the preface to the prize-winners’ anthology, Simon Armitage writes: ‘Over the course of my Laureateship I wanted one of my headline projects to be a prize that recognised the resurgence of nature and environmental writing currently taking place in poetry, highlighted by the Ginkgo Prize. The new wave of nature writing in non-fiction has been well documented, but not enough attention has been paid to the equivalent rise of ecological thought in contemporary poetry, with current fears about the impending climate crisis clearly provoking this essential writing. The Ginkgo Prize is one endeavour that has sought to address this imbalance and acknowledge the crucial work being done in this area, as the extraordinary poems in this anthology so deftly demonstrate.’
So, congratulations on your amazing success Sue, and thank you for being such an inspiration to the group. Here’s to many more prize-winning poems!