For the Urban Tree Festival 2021, we invited people to send in poetry and prose on the theme of “trees close to you” in a competition to win a spot in Canopy the illustrated chapbook anthology of nature writing that supports the Urban Tree Festival through sale proceeds, that is published by Sampson Low Publishers.
Over the last 12 months, with pandemic lockdown restrictions, we have all become more aware of the nature on our doorsteps and the trees we encounter on our daily walks. Without trees in streets, parks and front gardens, urban dwellers would have had a far more bleak 2020. Trees have really been our saviours providing a lot more than just shade, shelter, fresher air but also a changing scene in the views from our windows.
Entrants to the writing competition were asked to write a poem or flash prose of 250 words or under addressing the theme of “trees close to you”. And they have done the Urban Tree Festival proud as we received over 100 submissions and raised more than £500 through entry fees.
Our volunteer judges Ghazal Mosadeq and Dr Samantha Walton selected the poems and Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone and N G Bristow did likewise for the prose pieces. These lists have been combined to create a long list that we are announcing today and will publish each of these pieces on the website for a month from Saturday 1 May.
With financial support from the Mayor of London, we were able to bolster the competition prizes. From the long list, a short list of poems and stories will be published in Canopy, in time for the Festival. Each of the anthology authors will receive 3 complimentary copies of the anthology, and be invited to join an exclusive Nature Writers’ Circle during the festival. On the final day of the Festival, those authors are invited to read their work at the WRITE ABOUT TREES public showcase event (4.30pm Sunday 23 May), at which a winner in each poetry and prose category will be awarded the accolade of On-line Poet or Prose writer-in-residence for the 2022 Urban tree Festival.
In alphabetical order the long list includes:
Jane V. Adams – The first tree – a story
Gurnam Bubber – Stick – a poem
Gabriel Burrow – Bonsai – a story
Alison Clark – The potted tree – a story
Georgia Cook – The trees near me – a story
Chris Cuninghame – On looker – a poem
Clare Foxon – Giving thanks – a poem
Kath Gifford – Thirteen moons of a beech tree – a poem
Sandra Horn – Urban Beech Tree – a poem
Peter Isaacson – Hebridean Christmas tree – a poem
Cheryl Markosky – Run rest repeat – a story
Sarah McPherson – Beyond the margins – a poem
Debbie Preston-Low – Community Urban Forest – a poem
Tom Raw – The Wild Beneath – a poem
Electra Rhodes – Counting cherry stones – a story
Electra Rhodes – Dod yn ôl at fy nghoed – a poem
Michelle Seaman – Soundbite – a poem
Robert Seatter – The thinning I learned from the copper beech – a poem
Andrew Simms – On the common – a poem
Rachel Sloan – Daphne – a story
Mel Sutton – Cycles – a poem
Alison Swanson – Wulliestree – a story
Amanda Tuke – The oak with no name – a story
Sarah Wheeler – My blackthorn is a tree – a story
Sarah Wheeler – Lincoln’s Inn Fields – a story
Congratulations to all selected.