The biggest international poetry prize for ecological, environmental and climate-concerned poetry, the Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry, 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 UK’s leading provider of poetry education, the Poetry School, and judged by award-winning Mexican poet, activist, diplomat and former president of International PEN Homero Aridjis, alongside T. S. 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.

For the first time this year, we are also launching a separate prize focused on a theme or challenge encountered by environmental campaigners in their everyday work. This year’s theme is Environmental Defenders, with a £500 prize for the poem that best engages with the many threats faced by activists and communities, as they protect their families, livelihoods and planet from schemes that cause devastating environmental damage.

This prize is in association with Global Witness, who have catalogued the closing of political space for civil society action in their Environmental Activists campaign

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, Srishti Krishnamoorthy-Cavell, Dom Bury and Isabel Galleymore.




Key Dates 2019

01 May Competition Opens
15 September   Competition closes
22 November Award ceremony at Swedenborg House

The Poetry School will be co-ordinating a series of workshops & essay publications throughout



First Prize – £5,000
Second Prize – £2,000
Third Prize – £1,000
Environmental Defenders Prize – £500

Cambridge Writing Retreat — week-long residency for Ginkgo Prize & Environmental Defenders winners


Homero Aridjis
Jen Hadfield


Edward Goldsmith Foundation
Cambridge Writing Retreat
Global Witness

About the Poetry School

The Poetry School is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation and leading provider of poetry education in the UK, providing affordable, inspiring tuition and talent development opportunities for both poets and poetry audiences in the UK and abroad. Founded in 1997, it is a nonprofit charity that offers a vibrant and varied programme of termly courses, workshops and one-to-one tuition with many of today’s leading poets. Poetry School run the world’s largest social network devoted to poetry (CAMPUS) and biggest international ecopoetry competition, the Gingko Prize for Ecopoetry.

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Twitter: @ginkgoprize / @poetryschool

For press enquiries contact: Anna Millward – // +44 (0) 7730 577 227