The prize is awarded by the publishing house Matthes & Seitz Berlin in cooperation with the German Environment Agency and Stiftung Kunst und Natur (Art and Nature Foundation). The award is sponsored by the President of the Federal Environment Agency, Dirk Messner. The prize is worth €10,000 and includes a six-week writing residency at the premises of the Stiftung Kunst und Nature located on extensive natural landscape.
This year’s jury comprised last year’s prize winners Mara-Daria Cojocaru, Bernd Marcel Gonner, literary scholar and author Ludwig Fischer, senior programme curator of the Foundation Art and Nature Annette Kinitz, author Sophia Klink, literary mediator Brigitte Labs-Ehlert, Arts Commissioner Fotini Mavromati of the German Environment Agency and literary and cultural historian Steffen Richter.
Levin Westermann is recognised for his work as a poet, essayist and prose writer who resolutely understands nature writing as a cultural practice. His novel excerpt "Hohfluh" is an experience that leads from the Swiss city of Biel to Hohfluh, a stop on the Magglingen Railway above Lake Biel. This funicular railway, a technical artefact from the heyday of the industrial revolution, functions as a stepping stone, as it were, from an urban ensemble into a forest at the foot of the Jura. This forest is as much a space of experience for the senses as it is for the emotions and languages that have accumulated in it. It becomes a place of reflection on the legitimacy of its appropriation by humans and other animals as well as on the interest-driven narratives that circulate about it. Nature is not transfigured into a supposedly pure object of observation, but becomes recognisable in its cultural transcriptions through texts and images in its present-day form. Westermann's clever prose with its fascinating rhythm and convincing narrative drama and its meandering movements of thought following the explored terrain is carried by an ethical impulse, which is inscribed with a deep scepticism towards its own species - the "madness of a species out of bounds".
Levin Westermann, born in Meerbusch, Germany, in 1980, studied at Bern Academy of the Arts. He works and lives as a freelance writer in Biel. His poetry debut unbekannt verzogen, published in 2012, was followed by the poetry volumes 3511 Zwetajewa (2017), bezüglich der schatten (2019), and farbe komma dunkel (2021) and the essay collection Ovibos moschatus (2020). He was awarded the prestigious Clemens Brentano Prize by the City of Heidelberg in 2020. He received the Swiss Literature Award for bezüglich der schatten in 2021.
About the German Prize for Nature Writing
The German Prize for Nature Writing is an annual award honouring authors whose literary work is dedicated to nature. The prize ties in with the literary tradition of nature writing, which is particularly strong in 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. Across all genres, essays as well as lyrical and epic writing are 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 how people perceive, experience and explore it. The bodily presence, the concrete activity of exploration and the reflection on the insights gained usually become palpable in the text.
The prize is awarded jointly by the publishing house Matthes & Seitz Berlin, the German Environment Agency and the Stiftung Kunst und Natur, which also provides a writing residency for the prize winners at its premises as well as two scholarships for participation in its annual Nature Writing writers' workshop.
Deutscher Preis für Nature Writing
MSB Matthes & Seitz Berlin
Göhrener Str. 7 | 10437 Berlin
T +49 30 47399805 | dpnw [at] matthes-seitz-berlin [dot] de
German Environment Agency
Fotini Mavromati, Commissioner for Arts
Wörlitzer Platz 1 | 06844 Dessau-Roßlau
T +49 (0)340 2103 2318 | fotini [dot] mavromati [at] uba [dot] de
Stiftung Kunst und Natur
Anke Michaelis, Head of Communications
Karpfsee 12 | 83670 Bad Heilbrunn
T +49 (0) 8046 – 23192-208 | am [at] kunst-und-natur [dot] de