SHOP

PRIZES MAGAZINE THEATRE



LIBBY B BUSHELL’S ‘HOMAGE TO A HALIBUT EYE’ WINS THE MOTH NATURE WRITING PRIZE 2023 – JUDGED BY KATHLEEN JAMIE


‘This short story is revolting in its smells and its heat and fishy gore. A different sort of nature writing, literally visceral, it doesn’t tell us what to think but manages easily to horrify us with lived experience and first-hand knowledge of what we’re doing to the oceans. With a black humour, quick-fire dialogue and descriptions, and two characters trying to make some sort of spiritual sense of the world they are enmeshed in, if it doesn’t make you pause and consider what you’re eating and where it came from, nothing will.’ Kathleen Jamie
 
Bushell is the founder of HoWL, a wilderness expedition camp for children. Raised by artists above the cold, shifting sand of the beaches of Homer, where the daily tidal flux is as dramatic as the daylight and weather of Alaska, Bushell has always found inspiration in nature and in change. She studied creative writing at Colorado College, in between weekends of revelling in the Rocky Mountains. She also studied in Wanaka, New Zealand and Avignon, France, where her fascination with steep snowy slopes and her romance with language was born.
 
Bushell works odd hours as a waitress and wilderness guide so that she can spend the majority of her time doing that which gives her inner peace amidst this volatile and warming world ‒ skiing and writing. She’s currently revising her first novel, Salty, about love, loss and glaciers.
 
‘When I found out I won The Moth Nature Writing Prize, I immediately called my mom, screaming. With no context for the call, she started screaming too. “Happy screams! Happy screams!” I had to say. The Moth Nature Writing Prize is my first piece published outside the small circulation of my alma mater and hometown publications. As such, it feels transformative. Today, as I go about my normal routine, chatting with customers about the rockfish special or the blustery weather, I am the same but also new. With this prize, I am grateful and honoured to be part of an international literary community and I cannot wait to continue the conversations with you.’ Libby B Bushell





2nd PRIZE | SENDING TEXTS DURING THE HOLOCENE EXTINCTION by MOLLY LANZAROTTA

‘This poem grew on me. A deceptively simple piece, it’s economical but carefully considered. Though it maintains its conversational tone, it is packed with assonance and consonance which delivers a rich sound. The device is a back and forth of text messages and photos between mother and son, with the young man out there doing his best to help species survive, having adventures, still filled with boyish enthusiasm, while also reaching out for his mother’s reassurances. It is the mother herself who needs reassurance, as she cannot pretend all is well …’ Kathleen Jamie
 
Lanzarotta, who lives in Massachusetts, writes short stories as well as poetry. Recent recognition includes selection for the 2023 London Independent Story Prize anthology and a nomination for Best New Poets 2022. She has been a finalist for numerous awards, and her story ‘Everything I Learned I Learned in Vaudeville’ was shortlisted for the 2021 Fish Flash Fiction Prize and published in the Bath Flash Fiction anthology Snow Crow. Other publications include The Rumpus, FlashFlood, About Place, terrain.org, The Vestal Review, Cimarron Review, Carolina Quarterly and the Southeast Review.
 
‘I grew up in Los Angeles which is a place where you can be oddly separate from nature even though you are surrounded by natural beauty. There’s an obliteration-by-paving that occurs. In my adult life spent in New England, I feel I have been slowly reconnecting to the natural world. It means a lot to me to have this work validated and to find a wider audience for writing that faces our current peril but refuses despair. Ralph Ellison said, “I recognize no dichotomy between art and protest.” I’ve always been a take-to-the-streets sort of person, but as I get older, I’ve been taking to the streets with my pen.’ Molly Lanzarotta





3rd PRIZE | RIDE by MARK LAWLOR

‘“Ride” is a vivacious and bodily piece of writing, with the lad on his bike witnessing horses mating at a mart, despite the efforts of the farmers to prevent it. The horses’ desire will win out! It’s funny and tense, told in short sharp sentences. Aside from the mare, it’s a male world. The farmers can do little more than grunt and swear, and the scene catches the atmosphere and the boy’s recognition of sex before he pedals away at speed. “The bicycle is caught between my legs and I can feel the energy of the horses. It feels beautiful.” A vivid story of animal nature at work, and adolescent initiation.’ Kathleen Jamie

Mark Lawlor is a writer and a visual artist originally from Cavan, Ireland, but now based in Sheffield in the UK. He sees himself as something of a wanderer, the way of zooplankton, drifting in deeper water during the day (to avoid predators ) and then at night swimming to the surface to eat phytoplankton. His poems and short stories appear in Stand, Cyphers, The Moth, The Crank, Magma, Blackbox Manifold, Skylight 47, Chasing Shadows Anthology, Cavan Anthology, The Irish Press, The Sunday Tribune, Anglo Celt, North Magazine, The Cork Literary Review, Lemon Soap and Icarus (TCD), The Drumlin and Force 10. He won a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2021 and he is currently working on a novel. He has kept sketchbooks for the last twenty-five years and has exhibited in Ireland, England, Estonia, Poland and Italy. He recently returned from Poland where his show, The war is going well, consisting of 100 large painted maps accompanied by 100 of his poems, was exhibited at the DELTA Gallery, Szczecin.  
 
‘My wife, Frances, gave me Findings by Kathleen Jamie years ago. A bright book with the sound of falcons ringing in a bright sky. I remember reading in “Crex-Crex” an almost passing remark on the migration of these birds. One corncrake ringed in Scotland was discovered in the Congo. It came to me how little I know about the migration of a bird that stalked through the folktales of my childhood. There’s something zesty or shore-like in the prose of Kathleen Jamie’s work. She picks things that ramify outwards to new readers. I am stunned that Kathleen picked my work.’ Mark Lawlor  



ALSO COMMENDED: 

THE AAYROUNI OLIVES ALWAYS GROW BEST by ARI L. MOKDAD

‘Even before all eyes were again turned to the Middle East, this would have been an affecting poem, with is dismaying vocabulary of bombs, armies, borders, origins and also, the common desire for good food and the decent things of life. What stories are we handing down through our families? What is belonging? How do we write about the meaning of home while feeling overwhelmed by conflict, complexity claim and counterclaim?’ Kathleen Jamie
 
Ari L. Mokdad is a Detroit-born poet, choreographer, dancer, performance artist, and educator. She received three Bachelor of Arts degrees from Grand Valley State University in Dance, English, and Writing. Ari received an MA from Wayne State University in 2017 and an MFA from Warren Wilson College in 2023. She lives with her partner in Northern Michigan on the ancestral and unceded land of the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Pottawatomie people, The People of the Three Fires.
 

WALKING WITH MY DEAD BROTHER ON HIGH MOOR by MARY JANE HOLMES
 
‘This piece leapt out because of its vigour and energy. Perhaps a poem, perhaps a prose poem, it darts along among noticings and memories. It is a litany of questions, one emerging out of the next and directed perhaps to one who is no longer here. With deft and sprightly language, loads of consonance and internal rhymes, it has a life-force that defies death, (though it manages to incorporate an entire Japanese death poem among its weather and bird-imagery). Eventually the original question is lost, and everything ultimately unanswered.’ Kathleen Jamie
 

BELLWETHER by MARY-JANE HOLMES
 
A fast-paced poem of landscape and nature – a real farmed landscape replete with human activity, dialect words and family memory, not always happy. A bellwether is the lead sheep which the others follow, it extends also to the poet’s mother, followed “out of duty”. I love how the pell-mell rush of the voice masks careful control, how long multi-clause sentences are arranged into pulsing poetic lines and how a wealth of half-rhymes and vivacious diction drive the poem on until abruptly, the day is done.’ Kathleen Jamie

Antrim-bred Mary-Jane walks and writes in the wilds of the English North Pennines. Her collection of poetry Heliotrope with Matches and Magnifying Glass is published by Pindrop Press and her collection of Flash Fiction Set a Crow to Catch a Crow is published by V. Press. She has won the Live Canon Poetry Pamphlet Prize with her pamphlet Dihedral, the Bath Novella-in-Flash Prize (Don’t Tell the Bees, published by Ad Hoc Fiction), the Bridport Poetry prize, Dromineer Flash Fiction Prize, the Mslexia Flash prize and the Writer's Digest Poetry Prize.  She was included in the BIFFY 50 2019/2020, showcasing the best British and Irish Flash Fiction and was a UK National Poetry Archive showcased poet during lockdown.She has been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council studentship to complete a PhD in poetry at Newcastle University. UK.

 

ABOUT THE PRIZE

The Moth Nature Writing Prize aims to encourage and celebrate the art of nature writing. It is awarded annually to an unpublished piece of prose or poetry which best combines exceptional literary merit with an exploration of the writer’s relationship with the natural world. 
 
The prize is open to anyone over the age of sixteen, as long as the work is original and previously unpublished. 
 
Each year a single judge is asked to choose winners from entries worldwide. The 1st prizewinner receives €1,000 and a week at Circle of Misse in France. This year we have added a 2nd prize of €500 and a 3rd prize of €250.
 
‘If you are engaged with being alive on this planet just now … and you are not terrified about the future half the time, you are not paying attention.’ Max Porter (2022 judge)
 
‘I wish that we would not fight for landscapes that remind us of who we think we are. I wish we would fight, instead, for landscapes buzzing and glowing with life in all its variousness.’ Helen Macdonald (2021 judge)
 
‘The answer to the still present threat of a silent spring is for us to sing against the storm.’ Richard Mabey (2020 judge)
‘What a great competition to be running.’ Robert Macfarlane
 
‘It gives me so much confidence and it is wonderful to have my writing out there and enjoyed by others.’ Sammy Weaver (2020 winner) 
 
‘I am eternally grateful, however much of eternity I have left in me.’ Arne Weingart (2021 winner)
With thanks to Circle of Misse.
 
Call 00 353 87 2657251 or email enquiries@themothmagazine.com for more details. The prize will open again in April 2024. 





Call 00 353 87 2657251 or email enquiries@themothmagazine.com for more details


 

                    contact

00 353 87 2657251