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Wollongong City Council

6000 new seedlings planted: 5,700 poems written!

Thursday 17 November 2022

Image: Winner of Wollongong Community Greening Prize - Livinia (right) with Mum and younger sister.

“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 earnt Livinia from St Columbkilles Catholic Primary School poetry honours in the 2022 POEM FOREST competition.

With nearly 6000 seedlings planted and over 5,700 poems written across the country, Red Room Poetry and Wollongong City Council are pleased to announce 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 City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM 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.”

As part of our commitment to Urban Greening, Wollongong City Council Botanic Garden partnered with POEM FOREST to help grow the number of trees that make up our city’s urban forest. It’s all part of our goal to make our 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 – 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 – Winner of the Schools Prize for best collaborative poem ‘Gaia’.

Image: Ellie (right) with her family. Ellie was awarded Highly Commended.

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 & 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.

Find out more about what Council is doing to green our suburbs.

Poem Forest