19 Nov 2021
A total of 29 poems penned by students from 24 NSW public schools have been shortlisted for the 2021 Poem Forest Prize, including entries from Engadine and Port Hacking high schools.
They were among more than 5000 poems submitted by teachers and students from across the nation, with only 108 making the shortlist.
The poems, all about the natural world, include topics such as climate change, endangered species and even ‘spells’ on how to grow a tree.
Ruby, a year 11 student from Engadine High School wrote ‘Promise of Earth’.
Yoshi, a year 12 student from Port Hacking High School wrote ‘We would be human, not anymore’.
Created by Red Room Poetry in partnership with The Australian Botanic Garden, Poem Forest invites students and communities to use their words to make positive climate action.
For every nature poem received a tree is planted to help heal habitats and create a ‘poem forest’ for future generations.
In its inaugural year the competition received more than 5000 entries, and as a result more than 5000 seedlings have been planted in the critically endangered Western Sydney Dry Rainforest and Cumberland Plain Woodland.
The poem forest will include its three grand tree species, Forest Red Gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis), Grey Box (Eucalyptus moluccana) and Narrow-leaved Ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra) as part of the Greening our City Premier’s Priority to increase the tree canopy across Greater Sydney by planting one million trees by 2022.
The judges will select one winner and one highly commended place in each of the seven prize categories.
The winners will be announced at a live-streamed digital event on November 23.
Read Ruby’s poem below:
Count the hours in the sky, a facade of golden hue;
Look! It has been smothered, its throat in your fist,
I was promised the ends of the Earth,
Still, I stand knee-deep in grey forest foliage,
And I call to the heavens as I am swallowed,
And the ticking sun does not show me mercy.
Mother watches and sighs as you drape your body in diamonds and a dream of greed,
She will live out of death’s reach by the skin on her teeth,
X marks the spot and her ribs have cracked, bones tumbling,
Too soon, the boiling sea has become a mausoleum for her skeleton,
And your hands of destruction will soon lie there, too.
And you have ruined my day plans with your path of terror,
Oh, you say, but it is okay, because the sun has been suffocated by the air that you breathe
Out, and never in. Give, and never take;
But you take the stars and squash them between your palms,
You take the sea and drink like you are a God,
You lick your way through Mother’s home, you are a fire fiend.
I was promised every corner of the Earth,
Instead, I am banished to perish upon this hearth.