Pascale Petit longlisted for The Laurel Prize

Pascale Petit longlisted for The Laurel Prize


Pascale Petit’s seventh poetry collection Mama Amazonica has been longlisted for the inaugural Laurel Prize, Poet Laureate Simon Armitage's new award that recognises and encourages the resurgence of nature and environmental writing currently taking place in poetry. The 11-strong longlist was announced on 24 July 2020.

The judges are Simon Armitage, Robert Macfarlane and Moniza Alvi.  The prize will be awarded annually for the best published collection of environmental or nature poetry. It is funded by Simon Armitage out of the £5,000 honorarium he receives annually from the Queen, and is run by the Poetry School.

The prize awards £5,000 (1st prize), £2,000 (2nd prize) and £1,000 (3rd prize). In addition, this year’s partner the UK’s Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) are funding a commission for the three winners to write a poem inspired by the AONB closest to their heart. The Yorkshire Sculpture park will host a Prize Ceremony with dates to be confirmed due to COVID-19.

The three winners will be announced on August 19th, and those authors will be invited to participate in a special edition of The Verb on Radio 3 dedicated to the Prize on September 11th.

Simon Armitage, Poet Laureate, writes:

“Reading these books has been a hugely uplifting and moving experience. The strength of the long list is testimony to the way that contemporary poetry is bearing witness to the fragile state of the planet and the importance of engaging with nature through detailed observation and considered language.  These are collections that explore our deep and complex relationship with the world around us and our actions within it.”

Fellow judge Robert Macfarlane, poet & nature writer, comments:

'The Laurel Prize longlist gives the lie to any old, staid understandings of 'nature poetry'; the work here is singingly, variously alive to the complexities of modern nature, and to the experiences of hope, fear, wonder and horror in which our relations with the natural world are entangled.'

Pascale Petit's 2017 collection Mama Amazonica won the Royal Society of Literature's 2018 Ondaatje Prize for writing celebrating the spirit of a place.  This was the first time in the prize's 15-year history that a poetry title won the award.  Her forthcoming collection Tiger Girl, out 3 September 2020 from Bloodaxe and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, explores her grandmother’s Indian heritage and the fauna and flora of subcontinental jungles, which are under threat from poaching and deforestation.


Further details about The Laurel Prize, including the other titles longlisted, are on their website here.

For all press and media queries to do with The Laurel Prize, please contact: Anna Millward on email: tel: 07730 577 227.

For review copy requests for Pascale Petit's forthcoming collection Tiger Girl, please contact Christine Macgregor at




Mama Amazonica is set in a psychiatric ward and in the Amazonian rainforest, an asylum for animals on the brink of extinction. The book tells the story of Pascale Petit’s mentally ill mother and the consequences of abuse, as well as celebrating the beauty of the wild, whether in the mind or the natural world. It evokes the spirit of the Peruvian Amazon, informed by two trips Pascale made to the region in 2016.  Photographs she took there are included in an interview with Pascale Petit in the March 2018 issue of The Compass magazine here.

Pascale was filmed speaking to Roehampton judge Nathalie Teitler about her 25-year obsession with the Amazon rainforest here.

[24 July 2020]

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