Wollongong will soon be home to 6400 new trees, thanks to the 6400 young poets who entered the national Poem Forest competition.
The concept was created by Red Room Poetry in 2021 and delivered in partnership with Wollongong City Council. The council will plant a tree for every entry submitted as part of the competition.
A shortlist of 84 poets has been announced and the winning entries in eight categories will be announced on 16 November.
Wollongong Botanic Garden curator Felicity Skoberne said that of the 6400 poems submitted, 479 poems came from students and teachers in the Wollongong region.
“I want to congratulate everyone who submitted a poem. We’re absolutely blown away by the thoughtful, urgent and hopeful poems that have been written by young people across the country,” she said.
“The poems carry a strong focus on the importance of protecting our environment and a love of nature. It’s humbling to read so many poems that emphasise the importance of respecting our natural areas.
The Poem Forest project is aligned with Wollongong City Council’s Urban Greening Strategy and its commitment to increasing the urban tree canopy.
“It’s a practical approach to increasing trees and plants while also caring for the trees we already have,” Ms Skoberne explained.
“As echoed in the poems, we know that plants and trees are so important to our community.
“Not only do they make our city a pleasant place to live, but they also cool our suburbs, reduce pollution, improve stormwater quality and provide homes for wildlife.
“I encourage everyone to visit the Red Room Poetry website and have a read of the entries. Take a moment to reflect on their strong environmental theme.
“There are so many great poems to read including some heart-wrenching and beautiful poems that have been penned by students from across Australia.
Ms Skoberne said one particular poem came to mind, “thanks to its playful take on a recorded phone message”
“The Forest Rap, by Jett from Mount Ousley Public School, is a great example of the creative minds of local students.”
The Forest Rap by Jett B, Year 5 at Mt Ousley Public School
Hello, no forest is available for you to take your bush walk
Please leave a sunflower after the tone
Run, run, run, run
Go plant a flower, herbs or a tree
Run, run, run, run
Pick any plant and plant it for me
Everybody should respect the trees
I’ll pick you a flower from the flower bed
But take care of the earth
As Spring Awakens by Finau N, Year 6 at Cringila Public School
The fig tree wakes up,
With flowers blooming,
It’s a sign that it’s all ready to go.
Its leaves weave side to side,
A friend to us,
Listens with an open heart,
And watches as the children go by.
Gently they swing, gently they sing,
As the still small voice whispers,
When the children are ready,
They say goodbye and smile,
A memory capable of living.
It stands there,
Watching a blanket of stars appear.
The tree makes a sleeping song,
“Another day has come and gone…”
Says the Fig
Says the Fig
“Goodnight to you and me”
For more information and to read the finalists’ poems in full, visit the Red Room Poetry website.