Ginkgo Prize - Best Poem of Landscape 2022

Best Poem of Landscape winner 2022

The National Landscapes Association is delighted to announce that David Canning is the winner of the 2022 Best Poem of Landscape category of the Ginkgo Prize for his poem The Bowland Sheep.

Poet Maryam Hessavi, artist Jaz Ward and North Pennines National Landscape Communications Lead Sarah Hudspeth judged the Landscape category and felt that the winning poem brought to life a specific moment of connection with nature, putting us in the poet's place, feeling the refreshment of that moment. The poem transports us beyond the commonplace, but still to an experience that any one of us could have.

The Bowland Sheep

I hurried on some errand along the dale in a twilight,
wet moss and stone, wet frigid air,

the ribbon of my road rolled out to a haze,
my horizon unclear, a fog

poured down from over the fells, a ghost
of grey, edged with night,

and the black trees, like the thinnest of dreams,
all wintered and bare.

Then I saw them in my torchlight, resolving through the gloom,
earthed, and somehow ancient,

the sheep like a circle of standing stones,
their green eyes gleaming like flares,

they made no sound, but their heads, as they grazed,
swung low, slow and hypnotic;

I paused, and we were then man and sheep
together on our small circle of earth.

And when driven back to the City, impatient,
in lock step herded, time poor and brass-faced,
I recall the sheep, and their placid insistence,
how they grubbed at damp grass on their small patch of turf,
and how when the moon suddenly broke through the murk,
it turned everything it touched into silver.

David Canning, winner of the Ginkgo Prize in 2022 for the Best Poem of Landscape category.

The poems in this year’s ‘Best Poem of UK Landscape’ once again highlight the need to act, but more than this, they highlight the need to love. Art can tempt people to explore their landscapes in a way that science cannot. People, once they become explorers, start to write their own stories of landscape, nature and culture. Place becomes a partner in a relationship and both explorer and place benefit. People cannot be asked to protect what they don’t love, and we hope once again that these poems form an invitation to explore - close to home or further afield - to fall in love with a place and begin their own story.

Speaking on the partnership with Poetry School - John Arwel Watkins, National Landscapes Association, Chief Executive

You can download and enjoy previous year's Ginkgo Best Poem of UK Landscape shortlisted poems - click the buttons below.