Zetland-based Red Room Poetry has partnered with the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan (the Garden) to create a new prize that encourages young people to use their words to make positive climate action through poetry.
For every poem entered in the POEM FOREST Prize, a native tree will be planted at the Australian Botanic Garden to help restore habitat for critically endangered plants and animals.
All submitted poems will be published and go in the running for $5000 worth of prizes.
Project lead and Red Room Artistic Director Dr Tamryn Bennett says, “The POEM FOREST Prize is about valuing the words of young people with tangible action. During the School Strikes for Climate, we heard from young people across the world how deeply they feel for nature and the climate and yet we’ve seen little in the way of real action from leaders.
“This new prize aims to draw attention to the voices of young people, recognise them with real, genuine environmental outcomes and raise awareness about how we can all play a role in caring for Country. To protect the future, we need to connect young people with nature in a way that nurtures creativity, sparks inspiration and fosters action.”
Chief Executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust Denis Ora says,
“Every tree in the new forest has been chosen and nurtured from seed by our botanists and horticulturalists. Planted onto a site that includes remnants of critically endangered woodlands and rainforests that once stretched across the Sydney region, it connects powerfully to young people’s passionate aspirations for a sustainable future.”
Young poets will be inspired through POEM FOREST commissioned poets, Bundjalung- Gumbayngirr man Dakota Feirer, youth ambassador and slam poet, Solli Raphael, poet and author Jane Gleeson-White, and Djap Wurrung community activator Arika Waulu. Each has been asked to write on their personal connections with nature.
The prize’s high profile judges are Holly Ringland (ABC Back to Nature, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart), Bruce Pascoe (Dark Emu, Young Dark Emu), Solli Raphael and Dr Cathy Offord, world- renowned scientist behind PlantBank and the Wollemi Pine cultivation.
Since the 1980s, the Garden has been working to restore the fragmented Cumberland Plain Woodland that once covered most of western Sydney and the POEM FOREST will include its three grand tree species: Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus teriricornis), Grey Box (Eucalyptus moluccana) and Narrow-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus creba). The goal is to plant 22,000 trees in three years.
Submissions into the POEM FOREST Prize close on September 17. For information and resources for students, teachers and communities see redroompoetry.org/projects/poem-forest/.