in the forest stillness they are held like newborns
in the dim light of solitude, where loneliness overlaps with loneliness
where loneliness becomes your home
~ Stuart Cooke from 'Northern Long-nosed Potoroo'

In this three-part radio series, six eminent Australian poets and three extinction experts share their poems and reflect on losses of animals significant to them.

Created by Red Room Poetry in collaboration with Durham University, Extinction Elegies invites poets to reflect on losses, endangerment and extinction of species to deepen empathy with threatened animals and habitats.

The Extinction Elegies Radio Series was crated in 2019 and produced by Prithvi Varatharajan with the assistance of the Community Radio Network. Music by Guillermo Batiz.

Find out more about Extinction Elegies and contribute your own extinction poem by visiting the Extinction Elegies homepage.


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

In Episode One Extinction Elegies, poet Michelle Cahill reflects on the eradication of the King Island Emu, while John Kinsella discusses the demise of the Christmas Island Pipistrelle. Island and extinction specialist Professor John Woinarski contextualises these losses and what they mean in the bigger picture of extinctions in Australia.


Episode Two: ‘Art and Science’ with Bruce Pascoe, Mark Tredinnick and Dr Thomas Bristow

Poet Bruce Pascoe honours the Azure Kingfisher and Mark Tredinnick laments the plastic seas that swallow species and language, while Dr Thomas Bristow explores the history of the elegy and its role in eco-criticism. 


Episode Three: ‘The Loss of Australian Biodiversity’ with Ali Cobby Eckermann, Stuart Cooke and Professor Sarah Bekessy

Episode Three of our Extinction Elegies radio series explores cultural connections to Country and Wedge-tailed Eagles with Ali Cobby Eckerman. Meanwhile, poet Stuart Cooke examines the entanglement of human life with the Northern Long-nosed Potoroo and Professor Sarah Bekessy speaks to ways we might increase sustainability in urban areas.

Partners & supporters

  • Durham University

  • Australia Council for the Arts

  • Create NSW

  • Community Radio Network