POEM FOREST announces shortlist

Article | Nov 2023

POEM FOREST has announced its shortlist of 84 young poets from across Australia, selected from more than 6,400 entries in this year’s youth nature writing prize.


tadsouden-Wollongong-Tree-Planting-WorkshopCreated by Red Room Poetry in partnership with Wollongong City Council, POEM FOREST is a nature writing prize for young poets and  teachers.

POEM FOREST plants a tree for every poem entered, creating positive climate action and amplifying the voices of young people across Australia. Now in its third year, this – competition has recieved a record amount of entries – more than 6,400 poems, planting more than 6,400 new seedlings.

Shortlisted poems span eight prize categories for students from years K-12 as well as teachers from every state and territory across Australia.

The winning poem in each category will receive $500, a book pack from Magabala Books, Pantera Press, Wonderground Journal, Pan Macmillan Australia and Murdoch Books (worth $100), a ‘Wild Things’ poster from Wollongong City Council, a poetry journal from Corban & Blair, as well as judging notes and a winner’s certificate. Winning entries will be announced on 16 November 2023.

Check out one of the Upper Secondary shortlisted poems below.


The jaw of a brother
Caitlin W, Year 12
Erindale College

The jaw of a brother hangs over your doorway

like a sinner.

Tantalising adrenaline,

the bliss of the risk

keeps you coming back into the cage

sleek as a seal,

still impassioned when

this churning womb claims payment.

A well-known fact: my whole life, I must swim.

A never-ending pilgrimage

keeps me breathing.

So then, what is the cruelest crime you

can commit against me? Saltwater thumps

at the boat, rhythmic as a heartbeat.

You pick up a knife, carve off my sand-paper limbs and let

them boil alongside garlic and herbs while you toss

my dusky remains overboard and

I start to sink deeper,



See all the shortlisted poems here.



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