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POEM FOREST is a free nature writing prize that literally breathes life back into the natural world that sustains us.

Created by Red Room Poetry, in partnership with The Australian Botanic GardenPOEM FOREST deepens our connection with nature by inviting students and communities to create and publish poems inspired by the natural environment. For every poem received a tree will be planted at Mount Annan to help heal habitats and create a POEM FOREST for future generations. Our goal is to cultivate the creation and planting of 10,000 poem trees in three years!

Categories of entry

  • Lower primary (F–Year 3)
  • Upper primary (Years 4–6)
  • Lower secondary (Years 7–9)
  • Upper secondary (Years 10–12)
  • Threatened Species (F–12)
  • Accredited Teacher (All ages)
  • Australian Botanic Gardens prize (F–12)

Publishing Outcomes

All entries will be published on the Red Room Poetry website with a worldwide audience of 300,000+ readers. A selection of poems and poem excerpts will also be published on botanical tags in the POEM FOREST at the Australian Botanic Garden.


The following prizes will be awarded to the best poem in each category:

  • $500 cash*
  • $150 book pack from Copyright Agency and Magabala Books
  • Plant or seeds from the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan
  • Judging notes and winner’s certificate

    Highly Commended prizes in each category will also be awarded a $20 book voucher

    *Excludes The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan Local Prize

Special Prize Categories

Threatened Species Prize (F-12) will be awarded to the best poem written in response to Australia’s threatened species. See the list of threatened flora, fauna and ecological communities.

The Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan Local Prize (F-12) will be awarded to the best poem by a student attending school or living on Dharawal country (Macarthur region)

  • Free school excursion/ incursion with the Australian Botanic Garden for one class — up to 30 students
  • Individual prize — Choose a private tour for you and your family: Sunset Spotlight Tour through Cumberland Plain Woodland, private First Nations Cultural Tour, or behind-the-scenes PlantBank and Nursery Tour
  • Plants and seeds from the Australian Botanic Garden

In its inaugural year, we're thrilled to welcome author of Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe, internationally best-selling author, Holly Ringland, conservation scientist Dr Cathy Offord and award-winning poet Solli Raphael as judges of the POEM FOREST competition.