“In the year of the global pandemic when our very relationships with the natural world are critically exposed, this award is both timely and important, addressing global concerns and to different communities, bringing environmental science from academia to a much broader audience. This award has given voice to the wide-ranging environmental concerns of the 21st century, from climate change to environmental pollution. It rewards creativity in partnership with environmental knowledge and understanding. The opportunity for wider engagement has never been more necessary and the shortlisted writers and poets all have important contributions to make now and into the future.”
Jean McNeil, Lucia Pietroiusti, Professor Annie Worsley
The finalists were chosen from a long list of nominated UK-based writers of non-fiction whose work engages directly with the climate crisis, the anthropocene or with the sixth extinction. Bringing together writers of books, essays and poems, the award highlights some of the most striking voices in environmental writing in the UK today. The award was judged by an expert panel comprised of author Professor of Creative Writing at UEA, Jean McNeil, ecological curator Lucia Pietroiusti, and writer, physical geographer, crofter and Professor of Environmental Change Annie Worsley.
The judges commended poet, essayist and writer of books including The Library of Ice: Readings in a Cold Climate, Nancy Campbell for her generosity of spirit and depth of feeling in her writing, demonstrating great empathy with the flow of energy and power through the natural world.
Reviewing work by Scottish poet Garry McKenzie, the judges admired his ability to get beyond the ramparts of language which divides us from the animal kingdom, giving us a sense of shared consciousness and shared language and clearly contextualising his poetry within landscapes he clearly loves and knows very well.
Writer, poet and essayist Selina Nwulu was commended for her work which examines migration, race, climate change and social justice through a personal lens. The judges saw great potential in her approach to actively engage audiences on the issues of climate change and justice in environmental issues.
Joanna Pocock’s capacity to write philosophically yet simply about climate concerns was greatly admired by the judges. Her last book Surrender, a work of creative non-fiction, encompassed arguments around sustainability and edges which are transitional and transformative, particularly poignant in a period of political and social change.
The recipient of the £10,000 Environmental Writing Award will be announced along with awards in four other artforms (Visual Arts, Theatre Makers, Choral Composition and Materials Innovation) at an online celebration on the 27th Jan, 2021. Please check the website nearer the date for details about how to view the awards event. The three runners-up will all receive £1,000 awards towards their practice. Go to AFFA2021 pages for details of all 20 award finalists.