Joint press release by German Environment Agency and publishing house Matthes & Seitz Berlin

Call for entries for German Award for Nature Writing 2021

Prize recognises authors whose literary work focuses on nature

in einem dunklen Gehölz fällt Licht auf einen alten abgebrochenen BaumClick to enlarge
Prize recognises authors whose literary work focuses on nature
Source: Gabriela Torres Ruiz

This is the fifth time that the publishing house Matthes & Seitz Berlin is awarding the German Prize for Nature Writing in cooperation with the German Environment Agency and the Stiftung Kunst und Natur (Foundation for Art and Nature), which was already a cooperation partner last year. The competition is under the patronage of President Dirk Messner of the German Environment Agency. Author entries will be accepted until 3 May.

Funding is awarded to German-language authors or authors writing in German who have published at least one independent literary work or at least one text in a literary magazine (no self-publishing or books on demand; in the case of plays, radio plays, etc., proof of first performance). The submitted texts should be previously unpublished (until the end of the year of the call).

Entries must be accompanied by the following:

  • A prose text (story, beginning of a novel) of 30-50 standard pages, or 10 poems, or an essay of at least standard pages in length
  • A one-page exposé (maximum length)
  • Author's bio-bibliography

Entries must be addressed to dpnw [at] matthes-seitz-berlin [dot] de in digital form by 3 May 2021.

About the prize

The prize is awarded annually to authors who refer to nature in their literary work. The prize is based on the literary tradition of nature writing, which is particularly strong in the USA and Great Britain, where authors deal with the perception of nature, with the practical handling of the natural, with reflections on the relationship between nature and culture and with the history of the human appropriation of nature. Essayistic as well as lyrical and epic writing across genres is considered. The exploration of 'nature' includes the dialectics of external and internal nature as well as the dissolution of the boundaries between culture and nature, but also the possibilities or problems of protecting natural phenomena and natural events. Nature writing does not speak of 'nature as such', but of nature perceived, experienced and explored by people. The bodily presence, the concrete activity of exploration and the reflection on the insights gained usually become palpable in the text.

The award ceremony will take place in Berlin in late August 2021. The German Prize for Nature Writing 2021 is worth €10,000. The German Environment Agency and the Foundation for Art and Nature in Bad Heilbrunn in Bavaria contribute to the prize money. In addition, the Foundation for Art and Nature allows the prize-winner to spend six weeks writing on the premises of its extensive nature grounds. Furthermore, the Foundation for Art and Nature will award two scholarships among the applicants to participate in its international Nature Writing Seminar in spring 2022.

As part of the literature festival "Im Weltgarten" (7-11 July 2021) organised by the Literaturhaus Freiburg, an event with this year's winner of the prize will be held in Freiburg on 7 July 2021. Winning authors agree to be part of the jury next year.


This year's jury is made up of the incumbent prize winner Esther Kinsky, literary scholar and author Ludwig Fischer, senior programme curator of the Foundation Art and Nature Annette Kinitz, literary mediator Brigitte Labs-Ehlert, President of the German Environment Agency Dirk Messner, and literary and cultural historian Steffen Richter.