POEM FOREST Prize Partner Spotlight: Wonderground


Wonderground is home to a biannual print journal, along with weekly online content – a vessel for stories that grow from the soil; stories about who and where we are, where we want to go, and how we might get there, traversing the terrain of nature and ecology, design and architecture, art and culture. As a prize partner for POEM FOREST, an issue of Wonderground is on offer as part of this year's prize packs.

Georgina Reid is a writer, as well as being the founding editor and publisher at Wonderground. She is also on the judging panel for the 2023 POEM FOREST Prize, so who better to fill us in on all things Red Room X Wonderground?

Welcome, Georgina! First of all, tell us a bit about Wonderground – I love your site’s description of the publication as “a vessel for stories that grow from the soil”. Can you expand on that concept?

Regeneration is the word that best describes the Wonderground mission, ethos and output. How can we move towards a way of being – as individuals and businesses and societies – that gives more to the world than it takes? How can we grow a world that fosters life, in all its wild expression?

Wonderground holds these questions, whilst traversing the terrain of nature and ecology, design and architecture, art and culture. It defies easy definition, because meaning is not genre-specific and life is messy.

Wonderground began as The Planthunter – an online publication I founded in 2013. Over nearly a decade of online publishing, The Planthunter grew a deeply engaged international audience, celebrated for its fierce commitment to communicating the importance and wonder of the natural world through rich, evocative and real storytelling.

In 2020, Wonderground print journal was born. It grew from the realisation that times of upheaval and change are also great times to take risks. What do we choose to do with our time when contrivances are stripped away, when the realness of life shows itself? Do we sit with complacency or hurl ourselves towards action? I choose action, always. In 2022, The Planthunter online platform evolved into Wonderground, consolidating the vision and output into one digital home.

And can you tell us a bit about your work – as founding editor, how does your role fit within Wonderground’s overarching purpose?

There is no separation between Wonderground’s purpose and my own. It’s all one and the same. I’ve always had a strong sense that my work and personal values should be in alignment. As editor I shape and guide the content, as well as dream the future. I work with writers, poets, artists and designers to breathe life into ideas and stories and then share them with the world. It is a wonderful job.

Alongside Wonderground’s collaboration with Red Room Poetry as a prize partner, you’re also a 2023 POEM FOREST judge, and you have some deep pre-existing ties. What makes this partnership important to you?

Red Room Poetry Artistic Director Tamryn Bennett shared the initial seeds of POEM FOREST with me many years ago. It was exciting then and it’s exciting now. It’s been such a delight to follow this project and see the impact it’s had not only on young poets, but on rehabilitation of land.

The connection that POEM FOREST makes between poetry and trees seems to make a lot of intuitive sense – at least to our team. What, to you, is the connection between poetry and conservation?

POEM FOREST plants two of my favourite things: trees and poetry. Both are essential for the flourishing of the world, both feed soil and souls.

What advice would you give to emerging writers and/or young people wanting to work in arts publishing more generally?

Trust in your voice and its validity. Tell stories only you can tell. This doesn’t mean you have to know anything, rather that you are open to finding out, being challenged. Perhaps most importantly, use your creativity for good. Ask, always, what your work is offering to the world. Make it a gift.

Finally, time for a plug – are there any opportunities, events, publications we should mention?

Wonderground Issue Four – featuring Australian singer/songwriter Paul Kelly and partner Sian Darling as poetry editors – is getting close to selling out, so grab your copy now.

Learn more about the amazing POEM FOREST Prize Packs that Wonderground is contributing to here, and learn more via the Wonderground website.