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

Created by Red Room Poetry, in partnership with Wollongong City Council, POEM FOREST invites students and teachers to use their words to make positive climate action. For every nature poem received a tree is planted to help heal habitats and create a POEM FOREST for future generations. Since 2021, over 17,100 poem trees have been planted.

All POEM FOREST Prize entries are published in our digital library and have the chance to win $5,000 in prizes, including $500 cash for each category, book packs, garden tours, plants, journals and more.

Entries are now open, closing Friday 27 September 2024. Sign up for our Education newsletter for poetic activities, workshops and more.

Free Digital Workshops

We're thrilled to welcome our judging panel for this year: celebrated Yankunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann, Kamilaroi man, STEM champion and founder of DeadlyScience Corey Tutt, horticulturist and Wollongong Botanic Garden Education Officer Penny Hoswell & 2023 POEM FOREST Threatened Species highly commended poet Pardis Mahmoudian.

Each year, we commission Australian writers to pen a new poem responding to the themes of POEM FOREST. You can find writing activities inspired by their poems in our learning resource.

About the forest

The POEM FOREST will continue to be planted on Dharawal and Wodi Wodi Country in Wollongong, and will extend far and wide across Wollongong with trees planted in local parks, natural areas, backyards and as street trees. With some of the lowest canopy cover in all of NSW, these trees are critical in creating a better future.

Seedlings planted in the POEM FOREST include a mix of native plants like eucalypts, paperbarks (melaluca), palms, flame trees, as well as coastal-loving trees like Wild Quince (Guioa semiglauca) and Cheese Trees (Glochidion ferdinandi). They will be carefully prepared by the team at Wollongong Botanic Garden Nursery so they're ready to provide shade, purify the air, capture and store carbon, and provide homes for living things above and below ground.

The first POEM FOREST was planted on traditional land of the Dharawal people, on Mount Annan, in the heart of the Australian Botanic Garden between 2021 and 2022, and is helping restore the critically endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland and Western Sydney Dry Rainforest.

Partners and supporters

Proudly supported by our generous partners and donors.