Trees are our saviours in lockdown

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.

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