Reflections from the Forest
Over 6,400 poems from students and teachers all across the continent have planted thousands of seedlings all over Dharawal Country in the Wollongong LGA this year, growing the POEM FOREST bigger and stronger for future generations.
Alongside poems spanning waratah flames, a whale’s wings and memories etched in Father Sky, there were also thousands of reflections from students, sharing their inspiration for writing, how they connect with POEM FOREST, and their hope for a more environmentally conscious future.
For many students, the true meaning of the POEM FOREST wasn't to win the prize, but to have a tree planted for their poems:
I love nature, and I really don't mind if I win. What matters to me is that a tree is planted. I love being totally surrounded by nature, and I am very passionate about saving our planet.
~ Henrietta P, Year 7 - Wenona School Ltd (NSW)
I don't care if I lose, I just care about getting another tree in the world.
~ Sebastian S, Year 6 - St Pius X School Windsor Gardens (SA)
Even if I don't win, I just want to spread the message to show that no matter what age or culture, you are wonderful, delicate and powerful too, and you can also be a protector of nature.
~ Sophie A, Year 5 - Abbotsleigh Junior School (NSW)
There were so many different reasons students felt inspired to write, from experiences in nature to family histories:
I am a Gundungurra boy that has been taught by Yuin Elders about Country and its many teachers such as our Elders- the trees. One day a Silky Oak tree had to be cut down in our garden, and me and my mum were very sad. This helped me to write this poem.
~ Kaleb I, Year 5 - Illawarra Grammar School (NSW)
During class time at school, we had the opportunity to showcase our discoveries and connection to place through poetry. I chose my connection to the ocean and how it makes me feel. Living in a coastal town, I spend a lot of time at the beach and have discovered a strong connection with the ocean. I feel happiest when I am watching and hearing the waves crash and exploring amongst the rocks and in the salty water.
~ Emma R, Year 7 - Bunbury Cathedral Grammar School (WA)
My mother is from Borneo and she was proud of her hometown's rainforests being one of the biggest and most beautiful in the world. However, power-hungry people saw this and took all Borneo had. They cleared around 50% of the forests to sell palm oil and to grow palm oil farms with the profits going to the wealthier regions of Malaysia instead. This left my mother's hometown crippled with poverty, habitat loss and extinction of her beloved animals. My mother's story was truly an inspiration to this poem.
~ Elissa S, Year 9 - Mansfield State High School (QLD)
We loved all the poets letting us know how POEM FOREST made them feel empowered to use their words to craft positive climate action.:
I always liked nature and I never got the chance to actually give back to nature, but now that I learned about Red Room Poem I can finally give back to nature. I couldn't give back to nature until now because I am just 11 years old.
~ Chilun W, Year 6 - St Pius X School Windsor Gardens (WA)
I have always been passionate about the environment, but I am 10. Adults don't listen to children as young as me. I have lived in two continents, and so far, Australia has been the most eco-friendly. But still here it is polluted and unsafe for surrounding wildlife. I want to do something about that. I want to help. And this competition is my chance to spread awareness.
~ Oliva P, Year 5 - Franklin Primary School (ACT)
Want to hear more from the incredible youth poets who planted trees with their words this year? Tune in to the POEM FOREST Digital Winners Announcement on Thursday 16 November for readings, reflections, judges' notes and more!