“I came home from school that day
A bird in a cage
Negativity and fear wrapped up in me
Then she came uninvited
To this sad grass party for one
My Guardian Angel?”
THESE are the words that earned a student of a Corrimal primary school ‘honours’ in the 2022 Poem Forest competition.
With nearly 6,000 seedlings planted and over 5,700 poems written across the country, Red Room Poetry and Wollongong City Council have announced the local winners of the 2022 Poem Forest competition.
Poem Forest is a nature writing prize that plants a tree for every nature poem received.
The shortlisted poems span eight prize categories for teachers and students from years K-12 from each state and territory across Australia.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery congratulated the young poets for their incredible effort and contribution to the environment.
“I’m pleased to see so many young people from our city participate in this creative opportunity. Poem Forest is a fantastic project that encourages positive climate action and empowers the voices of young people,” Cr Bradbery said.
“This year we received some truly exceptional poems from some of our brightest young minds. I highly encourage everyone to take a moment and read through the poems submitted on the Red Room Poetry website and enjoy the creativity and reflect on the importance of trees.”
Wollongong City Council Botanic Garden has partnered with Poem Forest to help grow the number of trees that make up the city’s urban forest. It’s all part of Council’s goal to make the suburbs more liveable, increase the tree canopy levels in communities with historically low levels and work towards a sustainable future.
“While we’re all committed to improving our local environment, it’s important our next generation is part of the process and their views are heard,” Cr Bradbery said.
“Reading these poems, it’s clear these young people have a strong connection to the local environment and are keen to protect it.”
Special acknowledgement goes to:
- Livinia from St Columbkilles Catholic Primary School (Corrimal) – Winner of the Wollongong Community Greening Local Prize for ‘Guardian Angel’
- Ellie from Austinmer Public School – Highly Commended for ‘If the things that I have loved’
- Year 8 English Class 8/1 from Holy Spirit College (Bellambi) – Winner of the Schools Prize for best collaborative poem ‘Gaia’.
This year’s high-profile judges for Poem Forest include award-winning author of Bindi, Gunai woman Kirli Saunders OAM, co-founder of Good Life Permaculture and guest presenter on Gardening Australia, Hannah Moloney, Senior Botanist at the Australian Institute of Botanical Science, Dr Marco Duretto and 2021 Poem Forest Upper Secondary winner, Saufi R.
Illawarra based, proud Gunai Woman and award-winning multidisciplinary artist, Kirli Saunders (OAM), described the next generation of poets as “truth tellers”.
“In walking through the poem forest, I found that our next generation of poets are truth tellers, they’re conservationists and they believe in the hope of radical action. They weave poetic techniques seamlessly and paint pictures with their words of the world we live in, and the one we long for. Both worlds feel safer in their hands, and I can’t wait to see what our next generation of writers, poets, truth tellers and game changers create next,” she said.
Read all the winning poems from the 2022 Poem Forest Prize on the Red Room Poetry website.
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