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And regret is that the bird is gone,
Because we didn’t love enough?
Or because the angle of the sphere is out of our control

~ Bruce Pascoe from 'Loss

Extinction Elegies is a series of poetic commissions, performances, publications and recordings that deepen empathy with endangered and extinct species.

Red Room Poetry, in collaboration with Durham Centre for Cultural Ecologies (Durham University), has commissioned six celebrated Australian poets to create and record new elegies that reflect on losses and endangerment of Australian species. John Kinsella laments the Christmas Island Pipistrelle, Michelle Cahill the King Island Emu, and Bruce Pascoe the Azure Kingfisher. Together with poems by Ali Cobby Eckermann, Mark Tredinnick and Stuart Cooke, these elegies remind us how human life is intertwined with all life on earth.

As countless species disappear due to global environmental change, we edge closer to the next ‘great extinction’ – the sixth in our planet's history. Extinction Elegies takes the elegy – a poetic form traditionally used to reflect on human losses – and refocuses it through lyric attention on the non-human realm.


Write a poem to help save our species

In awareness of Australia’s 300+ threatened animals and plants, we invite you to write a poem about an endangered Australian animal or plant. For every poem we receive, we’ll donate $1 to support Greening Australia's bushfire recovery and native seed restoration program. 

Send your poem to extinction@redroomcompany.orgThis call out will remain open for as long as extinction is a threat to animals and plants. 

Extinction Elegies radio series

A three-part radio series with poets and extinction experts John Woinarski, Sarah Bekessy and Thomas Bristow, explores losses of the non-human world to encourage awareness and empathy, and inspire action through poetry. 

Episode One: ‘Island Ecologies’ with Michelle Cahill, John Kinsella and Professor John Woinarski

Listen to the Extinction Elegies radio series in full > 


Poet reflections

"It’s not enough to write a description of a creature that no longer exists" ~ Stuart Cooke


EcoArts Australis - Conference 
28 May 2019
University of Wollongong, Innovation Campus

Extinction Elegies: An Evening of Poetry, Music and Ecology
28 October 2018 
Durham Centre for Poetics

Linked public readings, podcasts, publications and learning resources support action and workshops at hyperlocal levels.

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