In the valley, the currawongs leave for kunanyi,
After sheltering in the creek for winter,
They’re ready for the cliffs again.
~ Hannah, Year 10, Kingston High School (TAS)
“I don't really care if I win, I just want a tree to be planted.”
~ Ginger, Year 3, Chewton Primary 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 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 10,700 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 to the 2023 POEM FOREST Prize are now closed. Stay tuned for the prize reopening in March 2024 - sign up for our Education newsletter to be the first to know.
This year, we're thrilled to welcome Gardening Australia presenter and Cudgenburra/Bundjalung Aboriginal man Clarence Slockee (NSW), climate justice and mental health youth advocate Varsha Yajman (NSW), writer and founding editor of Wonderground Georgina Reid (NSW) & 2022 POEM FOREST Upper Secondary winner Hannah Fairbrother (TAS) as judges.
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
This years’ POEM FOREST is being planted on Dharawal Country in Wollongong, and will extend far and wide across Wollongong with trees planted as street trees, in local parks, Tiny Forests, in natural areas, and in backyards. 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 John B. Fairfax AO, Principal Patron of POEM FOREST and other generous partners.
Wollongong City Council & Botanic Garden Wollongong
Oranges & Sardines Foundation
Graeme Wood Foundation
Adès Family Foundation
Australian Botanic Garden
Pantera Press Foundation
Wonderground JournalWonderground Journal
Corban & BlairCorban & Blair
Craig & Joy LawnCraig & Joy Lawn