Feel the future shade.
Listen to the wind rustling the emptiness.
Sing the song of a homeless bird.
~ Cooper, Year 12, Gungahlin College (ACT)
“I would write a poem a day if someone planted a tree for it.”
~ Alexa, Year 5, Brunswick Public School (VIC)
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 The Australian Botanic Garden, 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.
In 2022, we received over 5,700 poems, meaning that over 5,700 trees were planted at the Australian Botanic Garden to help restore the critically endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland. With over 10,700 total poem trees in the garden, the POEM FOREST has become a flourishing ecosystem of poetic voices.
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 from Magabala Books, Pantera Press, Wonderground as well as Garden tours, plants, seeds and more.
Entries for POEM FOREST 2023 are now open.
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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 2022 learning resource.
This year, we're thrilled to welcome award-winning author of Bindi, Gunai woman Kirli Saunders (NSW), co-founder of Good Life Permaculture and guest presenter on Gardening Australia Hannah Moloney (TAS), Senior Research Scientist at The Australian Botanic Garden Dr Marco Duretto (NSW) & 2021 POEM FOREST Upper Secondary winner Saufi R (WA) as judges.
About the Forest
The POEM FOREST is being planted on the traditional land of the Dharawal people, on Mount Annan, in the heart of The Australian Botanic Garden. This site includes remnants of the critically endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland and Western Sydney Dry Rainforest. These ecosystems are a regionally important haven for native wildlife. By removing invasive weeds and planting new trees, POEM FOREST is helping to restore biodiversity and make creative and cultural connections for communities near and far.
Seedlings planted in the POEM FOREST include a mix of native plants: Eucalypts, Acacias (wattles) and Angophoras, as well as Melaleuca styphelloides (Prickly Paperbark) and Melia azedarah (White Cedar). Learn more about the Australian PlantBank seeds and trees that will become the forest.
In 2022, Wollongong City Council and Wollongong Botanic Garden are also supporting POEM FOREST with a local prize to help grow Wollongong’s urban forest with local native species.
School workshops for POEM FOREST
Partners and Supporters
Proudly supported by John B. Fairfax AO, Principal Patron of POEM FOREST and other generous partners.
Australia Council for the Arts
Australian Botanic Garden
Oranges & Sardines Foundation
Graeme Wood Foundation
Wollongong City Council & Botanic Garden Wollongong
Pantera Press Foundation
Adès Family Foundation
Craig & Joy LawnCraig & Joy Lawn