Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s Swims and Meryl Pugh’s Natural Phenomena have been chosen by the judges as two of their 11 longlisted collections for the inaugural 2020 Prize.
The Laurel Prize is awarded annually for the best published collection of environmental or nature poetry. This year’s longlist was judged by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage alongside Moniza Alvi and Robert Macfarlane.
Director of Penned in the Margins, Tom Chivers, said, ‘This is an important new prize whose creation reflects exciting new waves in poetry concerning the natural world and our fractured relationship with it. Elizabeth-Jane Burnett and Meryl Pugh speak with contrasting voices – one immersed in the delight and challenge of wild swimming, the other exploring a new kind of urban pastoral – but they are unified by profound ecological awareness and a forensic approach to language-making.
‘Through our publishing programme, as well as multi-arts projects such as Edgelandia, Penned in the Margins is committed to making work that celebrates the natural world and speaks to the urgent crises of environmental destruction and man-made climate change.’
Meryl Pugh has a PhD in Critical and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and writes about interiority, environment and poetics. The author of two pamphlets — The Bridle (Salt Publishing, 2011) and Relinquish (Arrowhead, 2007) — she lives in East London and teaches creative writing and poetry for Morley College.
Elizabeth-Jane Burnett is a poet and academic with a focus on innovative poetics. Her work has been anthologised in Dear World and Everyone In It: New Poetry in the UK (Bloodaxe, 2013) and Out of Everywhere 2: Linguistically Innovative Poetry by Women in North America and the UK (Reality Street, 2015). She curates ecopoetics exhibitions and is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Newman University in Birmingham.
Penned in the Margins creates publications and performances for people who are not afraid to take risks. From small beginnings as a reading series in a converted railway arch in south London, Penned in the Margins has grown over the last decade into a respected, award-winning literary arts company producing new work live, in print and online. Their books have been shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Award, TS Eliot Prize, Costa Poetry Award, Gordon Burn Prize and the International Dylan Thomas Prize; in 2017 they were shortlisted for the inaugural Clarissa Luard Award for Independent Publishers.