The POEM FOREST writing competition is open, and business is blooming. The annual nature poetry prize has already seen 677 submissions and the same number of seedlings planted to provide important tree canopy cover locally.
The national prize, created by Red Room Poetry and delivered in partnership with Wollongong City Council, invites students and teachers across Australia to submit nature-themed poems and see them come to life with a tree planted for each, creating a forest of poems across our city for future generations.
One such entry is from Olivia at Austinmer Primary School:
I went for a stroll, in a gorgeous wood.
It had little creatures. I stared, and I stood,
For this was a beautiful sight,
I stayed there and watched through the night.
The wood had some flowers, and oh, they smelt good.
A workshop held last month saw Farmborough Road Public School students learn from Worimi poet Nicole Smede and plant trees along Allans Creek with Council and Wollongong Botanic Garden staff.
Wollongong City Lord Mayor Councillor Gordon Bradbery AM said it’s important to involve kids in sustainability initiatives like POEM FOREST.
“The trees these kids are planting will grow and provide shade for their future homes, businesses, and recreational areas as well as supporting our native wildlife,” he said.
“It’s time for local young people and teachers to grab a pen and get writing. The learning resource is packed with poetry writing prompts and templates for teachers and parents to use.”
And if cleaner air and helping the planet isn’t enough incentive, there are also prizes!
The best poem in each category will earn the author $500, a book pack, poetry journal and a ‘Wild Things’ poster print. Plus, every Wollongong student or teacher who submits a poem will receive a voucher for a seedling they can plant at home or have a tree planted locally on their behalf.
“Positive climate action involves everyone, from multi-million-dollar companies right through to schoolchildren. We all have a role to play in protecting the planet for future generations.
“Increasing canopy cover is critical to building climate resilience in Wollongong.
“Programs like this, which see new trees planted in Country, support our Urban Greening Program which aims to increase canopy cover in priority areas to 35% by the year 2037,” said Cr Bradbery.
Grab your pen and visit www.wollongong.nsw.gov.au/poem-forest to enter before Friday 22 September 2023.