The 18 winning and highly recommended entries in eight categories of the POEM FOREST 2022 competition have just been announced. The competition is an initiative of Red Room Poetry to showcase young voices (K-12) alongside raising awareness of climate change.
For each registration received, a tree was planted in the POEM FOREST of the Mount Annan Australian Botanic Garden (south-west of Sydney). This year, the award received nearly 6,000 nominations, bringing the total number of nominations over the two years of its run to 10,800. Seedlings planted around the critically endangered Western Sydney Dry Rainforest have helped regenerate previously degraded land, in hopes of creating a forest for the next generation.
Small things, big things grow indeed. As Red Room Poetry points out, “It’s a reminder to the artistic community of how art and creativity can contribute to our world.”
The winners of the POEM FOREST 2022 Prize were selected by the author of the verse novel Bindi and poet Gunai 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 Sciences Dr Marco Duretto and 2021 POEM FOREST Higher Secondary Laureate Excepti Risal.
Saunders hailed the venture: “I have discovered that our next generation of poets are truth tellers, conservationists and believers in hope for radical action. They weave poetic techniques seamlessly and paint with their words pictures of the world we live in and the one we aspire to. Both worlds feel safer in their hands.
ArtsHub reached out to some of the winning poets and asked them to reflect on their nomination and how they thought present actions could impact future lives.
Category: Lower Primary (F–Y3)
Flowers in the field of the future
Angel A, Grade 3 – Holy Trinity Elementary School, ACT
‘As I was writing this poem, I thought about the earth, the beauty of nature and the creatures that I normally make. And when I think about it deeply, I realize that the world around me is beautiful and without it our life would be boring. Moreover, we have the same responsibility to take care of nature, otherwise there will be more problems in the future.
Angel A, on his winning poem in the Lower Primary section.
Category: Endangered Species Award (F-Y12)
The great coral barrier
Rohin S, Grade 6 – Ross Park Elementary School, Northwest Territories
“Writing this poem opened me up to the world of possibilities that poems can show. I have been mesmerized by the Great Barrier Reef, ever since I visited it. tree is planted is an incredible motive and a push that for just a few meaningful words an ecosystem is thriving.
Category: Wollongong Local Community Greening Award (F-Y12)
Livinia M, Year 5 – St Columbkille Catholic Primary School, NSW
“I thought of this poem after a hard day at school. A cockatoo came to cheer me up. It was a special moment and I was happy to write about it. The poem is written in the form of a bird and is written haphazardly at first like my feelings and thoughts, and calms down and focuses when it comes.
Read: So You Want My Artwork: Scribe
Category: Lower Secondary (Y7–Y9)
Harper M, Year 8 – Linuwel School Ltd, NSW
“My poem was inspired by prehistoric Ngahere (forest) on the South Island of New Zealand.”
By reminding them of their ancestors,
With the mighty beast showing their ora,
They run from the mountains to the shores,
And reaching the heights,
Blocks out almost all light.
Seeing many kings come and go,
Aging slowly over the years,
But only the Maori know,
Redwoods and Kauri are the true pioneers,
Designers with luscious green locks,
Letting the birds nest on their shoulders,
When the sun comes up, the birds sound like alarm clocks,
Over time, trees do not age.
The forest floor is still moving like a forest fire,
And the Kea goes ‘TAP TAP TAP’ as he cracks a nut,
With the trees placed in random order,
Smoke makes its way through the canopy of a small hut,
As our body and mind slowly decay,
This ancient forest will always remain.
“Ngahere” by Harper M.
All entries for the POEM FOREST Prize have been published in the Red Room Poetry Student Digital Library with the winning poems here.