A new inclusive nature-writing prize

Tiny snail cr Judy DarleyThe Nan Shepherd Prize is accepting submissions until 10th September 2019. This new competition launched by Canongate aims to find the next major voice in nature writing. It intends not only to celebrate nature writing but provide an inclusive platform for new and emerging nature writers from underrepresented backgrounds.

The competition has been established in memory of Nan Shepherd. The organisers say:  “While her classic of nature writing The Living Mountain took three decades to first find a publisher, today the book is recognised as a masterpiece and Nan is inspiring a new generation of writers. We felt that a prize named after her was a fitting way to honour her legacy.”

The winner of The Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing will receive a book deal with Canongate, including editorial mentoring and an advance of £10,000, as well as the option of literary representation with Jenny Brown Associates.

During the submissions period, the Canongate team will publish resources intended to demystify the publishing process.

The competition judges are Amy Liptrot, Chitra Ramaswamy, Jenny Brown and Nick Barley.

Applications are open to previously unpublished writers based in the UK and Ireland, who consider themselves underrepresented in nature writing, whether through ethnicity, disability, class, sex, gender, sexuality or any other circumstances. This means that entrants must not have published full-length books of fiction or non-fiction (including children’s books) with a trade publisher. Full details of eligibility and how to submit can be found here.

Got an event, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at JudyDarley(@)ICloud(dot)com.

Solstice Dawn

Summer solsticeThis is the one, the one that matters, the one to task yourself with. Because what’s challenging about dawn on Christmas, when it arrives so sluggish and late in the day?

Solstice dawn, on the other hand, arrives far earlier than seems decent, when even blackbirds sleep on, uncaring about fat worms in the grass.

First sign is a touch of grey in the darkness, transforming to a weight of dew so urgent that wild garlic stems fall flat against the earth as though pressing their ears to its deep, subterranean murmurings.

Next a glimmer of light that ignites the glistening backs of frogs barely visible by their eyes beading the water of ponds whether their spawn hatched, swam, sprang.

A breath of morning breeze stirs the pale scattering of pigeon feathers – the only evidence of the fox cubs’ first copper-rich taste of self-caught blood.

And the webs the spiders have strung in anticipation to trap each gilded corner of the new day’s sky.

This is the summer solstice dawn – but who is awake to see it? What is it to us but a damp finger tapping the date on a page of an already overstuffed diary, the thumb stroking its cracked spine?