POEM FOREST Favourites Over the Years

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POEM FOREST 2024 is just three weeks away with an updated learning resource, new commissioned poems, exciting judges, prizes and digital workshops coming on 21 March.

As we work on bringing this year's forest to life, we've been taking inspiration from our archives of over 17,000 nature poems, so we're sharing some favourites from the past three years of POEM FOREST. These poems are full of poetic techniques ready for discussion and inspiration for your students' own writing.

A spell to grow a tree

"Feel the future shade.
Listen to the wind rustling the emptiness.
Sing the song of a homeless bird.
Sip eucalypt tea with the sleep-deprived bats,
And share your fruit with the starving ants."

From the very first year of POEM FOREST, Year 12 student Cooper's magical call to action still resonates three years later. 'A spell to grow a tree' was shortlisted in the Upper Secondary category in 2021.

Salmon!

Water burst around his nose,
White, cold.
Slap across the face.
Sharp. Speedy. Salmon!

Demonstrating just how fun alliteration can be, Year 6 student Sophia's salmon poem from the 2022 shortlist makes us smile every time.

Low Tide

"I left myself within myself
I left the orange upon the dresser,
the simmer upon the stove
and the spring to its own devices"

Miranda's poem, highly commended in the Upper Secondary category in 2022, was included in the A Line in the Sand Anthology, celebrating 20 years of Red Room Poetry.

Flannel Flowers

"Blackened banksias bend and twist like old men.
Soot stains our skin and clothes.
Our shoes crunch crippled branches and banksia pods."

Another shortlisted poem from 2021, Kobi's ode to the ephemeral flannel flowers is bursting with memorable similes and sensory imagery.

Rural Preteen

"between red sun and red sunburn,
resting under the dust of the gravel road,
you'll find my tiny grevillea home,
busted pipes and a goodbye kiss."

Shortlisted every year, student poet Fig uses carefully crafted imagery to evoke a natural world infused with subtle magic. Their other shortlisted poems are creature from 2021 and crow culture from 2023.

Ngahere Poem

"But only the Māori know,
Redwoods and kauri are the true pioneers,
The creators with their luscious green locks,
Letting birds nest on their shoulders"

In his winning poem from 2022, Year 8 student Harper used imagery and te reo words to draw readers deep into the Redwood forests on the land of the Te Arawa tribe. Harper was a commissioned poet for POEM FOREST in 2023, with his poem 'One Breath (Manawa Kotahi)'.

Discover more POEM FOREST poems by exploring our poem library or the shortlisted poems below.