‘Leaving Wilona’: Zalehah Turner interviews, John Karl Stokes, winner of the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016

“Finally, the poem, [‘Leaving Wilona’] was edited, boiled down, bred up again, titled, questioned and left to season before being let out into the garden.”- John Stokes

Zalehah Turner: Take me through your poem, ‘Leaving Wilona’…

John Karl Stokes: Well no work of mine is destined to end up starting at the beginning. Here we have no exception. The last can be first.
I started with the idea of the speaker’s old home on the edge of Sydney harbour having “bitter-vine grown over with lies”. The “bitter” of course stands for both the bitter, real plant and its strangling habits and the hurt of revisiting.
We then move to the father, growing flowers (he is a displaced farmer and horticulturist) near the Harbour Bridge (he worked on it) on borrowed ground opposite the Royal Botanic Garden.
Humans enter the structure of the poem. Especially a Bavarian grandfather.
Followed by that is the marine, sensuous smell and knock of harbour water.
Next comes: “that you might find nothing under a memory” (speaker lifts a piece of roof iron). Which means a quick back-fill stanza is needed: – “the second mother” (don’t ask) and “fright and decay” rotting into regrowth.
Then, things get interesting: – the speaker/narrator knew and knows years in advance, that he should not come back again in the future. But he will. He will have that strange, but well known, feeling of meeting himself and his ghost going their opposite ways.
Then we have the final dance-beat. The punch-line ending. The bit that makes a poem. As with a much of my work, endings can take months or years to turn up. There is no exception here: –
“Brush past … alone … into the new ground” … … “Say nothing”.
That “say nothing” (to your ghost) is really interesting. Public event readers of those two words, “Say nothing”, have had a variety of ways of saying them. I was inclined to a poignant, “nothing you can do”, mood. Another reader has spoken them as a strange interaction between two ghosts “outside of time”. Another- and I feel now, I would sometimes prefer it this way – gave them out in a loud, bloody fury shocking an audience out of its slumber.
Finally, the poem was edited, boiled down, bred up again, titled, questioned and left to season before being let out into the garden.

Z.T.: What is the relationship between ‘Leaving Wilona’, the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney, and the life (and death) of plants?

J.S.: The speaker in the poem, his father and his grandfathers have direct relationships. There was the growing, nurturing and disposal of the plants and their dependants. The family gatherings. The air and sight therapy in that garden especially, before the years of fumes. There is a meeting of first boy or girlfriend. There is the history: the speaker in the poem was once the Assistant Keeper of the Book of Peppercorn Rentals for the Crown, and later one of its Crown Surveyors for the area. There was the matter of the silent cycle of growth and decay which gives the death and life of plants to the new generations; to the courting and marriages of new people while the secret creek dries, goes under, and is renewed.

Z.T.: You’ve spoken about the strong connection of place and memory in your poetry in an interview with Nigel Featherstone. In your words, place and memory interweave and ‘place’ is a “dark angel”. Explain the connections to place, memory, nature, growth and decay in ‘Leaving Wilona’?

J.S.: Place, memory, nature, growth and decay form the opening path, to borrow somewhat pompously from the Buddhists. In this work we, writer, listener, watcher, singer in the brain and body, are led on a little journey through all these aspects of an ancient, derelict house and garden only to come to a shiver of memory we can’t explain. There’s the rub.

Z.T.: What is your personal experience of the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney?

J.S.: Many years of appreciating its beauty, its calming illusions, its secret places, its useful fruits, its temporary pausing of time, its modelling for me coming from the East Sydney Arts School, its funnelling of the world down to that distant, bitter-sweet romance of the leaving of flying boats to the “honeyed islands”.

Z.T.: Your spoke with Nigel Featherstone about the memory of a place being coloured by experience specifically, that of personal, traumatic experiences. Is ‘Leaving Wilona’ situated within such a context?

J.S.: Don’t think a context like that necessarily applies here. Yes, jolts like that do happen, but the hurt in this poem is a long-term loneliness and loss, particularly of a mother, but not nearly bad enough by world standards. The horror in this poem is ill-defined. It is a wild but long drawing of the wire.

Z.T.: You mentioned that, ‘Leaving Wilona’ was connected to the longer poetic sequence, Drowned Haven. Tell me about Drowned Haven.

J.S.: Drowned Haven is subtitled ‘Confessions of drinker of sea-light’. It is a highly emotional, poetic sequence lamenting the rushing past, and ultimately, accepting of a painful hope for small futures*.
The drowning in this case refers to Port Jackson, a drowned estuary harbour and also, remembrance at once for our immigrants lost into the open seas.
We lament on the death by hospital neglect of the last, local, Australian aboriginal man living on his ancestral land on the peninsular: – ‘Man who lived under the spiders’. We have ‘Going from the Valley’; ‘Night surfers’ and ‘Midnight’s talk’. We have ‘A Girl is dancing in her green, green bonnet’ and ‘Mother. The birds are silent’. Then we come to ‘The Place, The History, the devil’s musician’ dealing with plants choking on their own fertility behind the McMansions overlooking the gardened swards of the children at play and the windswept, waterside brides under the palm trees.
Finally, we come to the specifics. A drowning which is to come by sea- and- storm-rise over the plants and creatures we share; a lonely, bewildered boy-child placed on the stone lions in the Gardens; a panicking wartime father shouting the Latin plant-names at him; a faint, sad hope that with the plants, and the bats coming in over the water gardens (“downward to darkness”), we will prevail. And nature with us. ‘The White foam sings’ (Stokes).

*For the technically minded, Drowned Haven currently stands at two lyrical “movements” of about 300 lines each in what my friend and far superior poet, Robert Adamson, might call The New Romanticism with added bite.

“We do not hide under the blankets …like the waspsand the leaves… we are blown away” (Hewitt).

Z.T.: Do you have anything else you would particularly like to add to give us some background into ‘Leaving Wilona’?

J.S.: I would like to say that for much of my writing life, I have dealt with “truth” as a guard against cant. I passionately knew that truth was larger than fact, and people need to identify themselves in the writing, unless you are too famous for words. It has only come to me very recently, only at the last decade, that there is another need. That of ‘theatre”, the emotional projection, the greater good. Watch your back. The Shadow Players are abroad.

‘Leaving Wilona’ by John Stokes: winner of the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Poetry Prize 2016
New Shoots Poetry Prizes: the winning and highly commended poets
The winning and highly commended poems from the New Shoots Poetry Prizes can also be found on The Red Room Company’s website.

Songs of truth and passion: an interview with John Stokes by Nigel Featherstone in Verity La

john-stokes-pic

John Stokes

John Stokes is renowned internationally for his passionate campaign for plain-speaking in literature. He has won, been short-listed, or long-listed for many prizes including, University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s and Montreal International Poetry Prizes in 2014 and 2015, respectively. His third book, Fire in the Afternoon was published in the Poets and Perspectives series by Halstead Press in 2014 and won the won the ATC Writing and Publishing Awards 2015 for best poetry book of the year.

 

N.B. The judges of the New Shoots Poetry Prizes were unaware that ‘Leaving Wilona’ by John Karl Stokes was previously published in ‘Fire in the Afternoon’ (Halstead Press, 2014) at the time of the selection and announcement.

-Zalehah Turner

new-shoots-poetry-prizes-no-submission-date___________________________________________________________________________

Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based critic, writer and poet currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communications majoring in writing and cultural studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. Zalehah is an Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review: https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/02/09/welcome-zalehah-turner-rochford-street-review-associate-editor

‘our primitive lives’: Zalehah Turner interviews John Bennett, highly commended for the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016

“We forget just how fundamental plants are, especially primitive ones, like mosses and fungi (more animal than plant) for our air, water, soil.”- John Bennett

Zalehah Turner: In your notes you write, “This wall stands as a reminder that there is a story I want to trace.” Is ‘our primitive lives’ that story?

John Bennett: There are many other interconnecting stories: the garden as a Persian hunting park with walls keeping out the wild; botanic gardens arising from trade and empire and the rise of the consumer; the English landscape garden which, with poets and Italian painting (and Whig nationalist politics) helped shape the British idea of nature.
The Eora had no walls. Eden must have had a wall or fence through which we were expelled.
For 99% of human existence, hunter–gathering was the way of life, which has finished. In the last few years, the world population has tipped to urban not rural, and our agriculture has evolved quickly into industrial production. These changes are revolutionary and distance us from the natural processes collapsing through global warming, loss of biodiversity and habitat, the poisoning of the land, waterways and the seas. That’s a story.

Z.T.: You write, “my camera stitches connections”. Why did do you chose the combination of the visual image and prose poetry for ‘our primitive lives’?

J.B.: They complement each other, as well as possibly distracting each other – and we are so easily distracted in our culture. A photograph can reveal beauty or a truth beneath our noses and interrogate a text – not just illustrate. Poetry stitches connections too, an ability at the heart of the art. Poetry can connect the intimate, cosmic, mundane, sublime, thought and feeling. Hopefully the combination can nurture a creative engagement.

Z.T.: What is it about mixed media and ‘Photovoltaic poetry’ that is so essential to your understanding and expression of the world?

J.B.: Our culture has become overwhelmingly visually based, despite music being a vital art. Yet the visual is so powerful. I cannot draw or paint and the environment here is so beautiful. To show the beauty of the natural world is important now that we are distanced from it.
My current project is Eos: text, video and images of predawn when the visual can be sublime. Yet in the fifteen minutes before sunrise, colour fades and other senses come into play. Eos is an opportunity to become intimate with traditional elements – earth, water, air and light – and gain some understanding of our ancestors’ experience of a world before farming, roads or cities; before writing, machines, electrification or algorithms.
At the same time we are creative, playful and curious. We were reliant on machines and now, rely on technology. My art uses word processing and digital photography – I ask in one poem:

…My lens slams light onto an oxidised
silicon semiconductor powered by charged lithium ions
processed by robots and third world labour. Is this appropriate
technology to attempt intimacy with the environment?

Z.T.: ‘Our primitive lives’ takes in history, landscape, ecology, photosynthesis and the beginnings of life. Can you tell me a little about their interconnections in the ‘present’ and specifically in ‘our primitive lives’?

J.B.: Aldo Leopold was one of the first to value historical, cultural and scientific aspects of a place or landscape as part of its aesthetic appreciation, of its presence I would say. We need such understanding to see clearly, or in the words of Arran Gare (1995, p.160), to ‘enable individuals to construct narratives which can relate their own lives to a new grand narrative, the global struggle for an environmentally sustainable civilisation.’ Poetry has a vital role to play. When I was a boy, I thought the wars were coming to an end and progress (a relatively recent idea) was inevitable. There’s a cornucopia of violent conflicts, unfair trade, continuing famines, violence against women, and the ongoing war with nature. A war the NSW Baird Government is continuing, passing a bill last week to weaken land clearing laws. Australia is mostly an urban world deracinated from the natural processes that donate fresh air, clean water and food. How many of us can name any of the eight desert mammals we have sent extinct since invasion?

Z.T.: Why do you turn your attention to the cliff face in Sydney Harbour and away from the Harbour Bridge in ‘our primitive lives’?

J.B.: I lived in Sydney for thirty-five years and know the Bridge and Opera House; they oil the massive engine of Instagram, flooding 8 million images every day. The wall is a more subtle aesthetic treasure, packed with the marks and deposits of humans and nature – it is a vertical version of Darwin’s ‘tangled bank’.
Cézanne wrote in a letter to his son on 8 September 1906, ‘Here on the bank of the river the motifs multiply, the same subject seen from a different angle offers subject for study of the most powerful interest and so varied that I think I could occupy myself for months without changing place’ (Galenson, 2002, p.52).
The same could apply to this beautiful wall.

Z.T.: When writing about plants, you chose Commelina, moss and fungi, and added that, “the intimacy of slime lives with me”. When focusing on the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney you chose the cliff face. What particularly drew your attention to them, what is their connection and why do you feel so strongly about them?

J.B.: More than half of us are alien, cells that belong to other lives, and even our own cells are powered by mitochondria that were once primitive bacterial cells. We are symbiotic creatures intimately connected to our environment, but are stuck with damaging Platonic, Christian, Cartesian dichotomies: body/mind; reason/emotion; nature/culture. Reason is thought to be fundamental to our species and separating us from other animals, but consciousness is overrated. Much of our feelings, perceptions, attitudes, actions are achievements are hidden from us.

Z.T.: Commelina is known for its short life and referred to commonly as dayflowers. Why is this contrast between the short life span of a dayflower and immense stretch of time since the beginning of life so important to your poetry and ‘our primitive lives’?

J.B.: What will this wall look like in a thousand years? The time span of a politician’s thinking is four years, most of us have even less. Some struggle to survive from day to day, but the vast majority of us in the ‘first world’ have the opportunity to look ahead to what we are leaving our children. We can also remind ourselves that we are about ten billion years old (our materials are star stuff).
We now have responsibilities, have to manage habitats and species or we would lose both. An estimated ten per cent of the 28,000 plants introduced into Australia to feed stock, decorate gardens, or accidental invaders, would take over.

Z.T.: You write, “I think it’s plants that can mend the earth”. Can you elaborate?

J.B.: We forget just how fundamental plants are, especially primitive ones like mosses and fungi (more animal than plant) for our air, water, soil. If only our natural environment was richer worldwide . . . Evidence is increasing from multiple scientific fields that exposure to the natural environment can improve human health and wellness. So it goes back to both natural aesthetics and the fundamentals of healthy ecosystems.
It’s great that Red Room has the energy and ideas to drive poets to further creativity.

Z.T.: Congratulations on being highly commended for the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016. Is there anything you’d like to say about winning the award for ‘our primitive lives’?

J.B.: I’d like to thank judges for enjoying a poem revelling in discursivity – not that common these days…and congratulations to the Red Room for opening up new challenges for poets and new inventive spaces for poetry to breathe in.

Reference list

Galenson, D. 2002, Painting outside the lines: patterns of creativity in modern art, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, US.

Gare, A. 1995, Postmodernism and the environmental crisis, Routledge, London and New York.

‘our primitive lives’ by John Bennett: highly commended for the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016
New Shoots Poetry Prizes: the winning and highly commended poets
The winning and highly commended poems from the New Shoots Poetry Prizes can also be found on The Red Room Company’s website.

john-bennett-pic

John Bennett

John Bennett has won the Mattara (now Newcastle) Prize and the David Tribe Prize and is represented in Puncher and Wattmann’s Contemporary Australian Anthology. A documentary on his work was broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Earshot in February 2016. His PhD updates a Defence of Poetry and he now melds poetry and image with Photovoltaic poetry.

 

-Zalehah Turner

new-shoots-poetry-prizes-no-submission-date___________________________________________________________________________
Zalehah Turner is a Sydney based critic, writer and poet currently completing her Bachelor of Arts in Communications majoring in writing and cultural studies at the University of Technology, Sydney. Zalehah is an Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review: https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/02/09/welcome-zalehah-turner-rochford-street-review-associate-editor

New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016 winner: ‘Leaving Wilona’ by John Stokes

Leaving Wilona

Here it was lost, that blood-quiet ground;
guilt and imaginary loves gripping
the shade trunks of bitter-vine
that joined one year to another
across the face of the old house
grown over with lies

The father grew, here, hollyhocks,
sweet peas, English stocks
nodding within sight of the Harbour Bridge
weeping in rows through old
Uncle Butler Airways’ field
to a green, quilted sea, where

each slap of each sly curve of
wave rots the gentle fish-wharf
and this harbour still smells
like a warm girl; the alien
grandfather, silver haired, still haunts
a German fig-treed sky

Fright and decay…
Decay is where the root
drew sustenance, here,
where the second mother bloomed
at The Gardens, where voices grew
Never go back
silent, more insistent

and even then you would know
unwisely, that you should not
come here again: that you might find
nothing under a memory
or feel your blood creak
like that old door
………….
or see your own face pass through a gateway,
blank, unwarned
full of schemes for the new growth
clicking between illusion
and its memory; comforts
living in those small eternities

between a word and its soft-mouthed
speaking in the New World…

Brush past, alone, into
the raw ground…

Say nothing.

-John Stokes

‘Leaving Wilnoa’ is from the flower-drum sequence

john-stokes-pic

John Stokes

John Stokes is renowned internationally for his passionate campaign for plain-speaking in literature. He has won or been short-listed for many prizes and long-listed for both the University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s and Montreal International Poetry Prizes in 2014 and 2015, respectively. His third book, Fire in the Afternoon was published in the Poets and Perspectives series by Halstead Press in 2014 and won the ATC Writing and Publishing Awards 2015 for best poetry book of the year.

 

N.B. The judges of the New Shoots Poetry Prizes were unaware that ‘Leaving Wilona’ by John Karl Stokes was previously published in ‘Fire in the Afternoon’ (Halstead Press, 2014) at the time of the selection and announcement.

‘Leaving Wilona’: Zalehah Turner interviews, John Karl Stokes, winner of the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016

new-shoots-poetry-prizes-no-submission-date

New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016 highly commended: ‘our primitive lives’ by John Bennett

our primitive lives

1

The Opera House squats on Djubuguli, once a tidal island
facing a sandstone cliff bracing our first farm whose sandy,
tough conditions dealt a pitiful crop of wheat and barley.
Tourists worship the radiant sails and Harbour Bridge ribs,
I focus on the wall. Commelina is fingering the rock, native,
edible, but confused with Tradescantia luminensis (a toxic weed
with white flowers known by a sour alias ‘Wandering Jew’).
The immigrants ate the juicy leaves to limit scurvy, called it
scurvy plant, but knowledge for the Eora was just a way of life.

The bailey is haemorrhaging slime moulds (fungi), algae, moss
and lichen, smears of colour bleed into curdled patterns, moist
voluptuous erosions and exhalations of precarious vocabularies,
hieroglyphs are living low relief. I wonder how it all smells.

My camera stitches connections, less intimate than harvesting moss
and its green simplicity, leaves one-cell thick on simple stems, handy
for bedding, dressing wounds, starting fires, or than vertical gardening,
or botanical exploration with loupes and textbook, but offering insight.

jb-image-1

2

As a child I splashed through puddles, slithered in mud, waste grounds
were playgrounds, dirt was the natural skin and now I celebrate
this neglected landscape of deflated hills, streams, swamp and desert.
What’s a wall to slime and roots but an opportunity?
This surface succours ancestors of all plants, of all 4,000 trees
the Garden wears, including my favourite, a monumental Flooded Gum
bleached by sunlight near Maiden Theatre. Plants have thrived here
for 200 years but figuring the ecology is a modern adventure.

An aesthetic approach to nature’s nooks and crannies threads life,
blurred bands of iron oxide and desert textures onto silicon memory.
This sandstone wall, 200 metres deep, poured from Broken Hill,
laid down and rammed with few collisions and only minor folding.
It’s a piece of art that moulds the marks of men and machine, as new
to the Eora as this perpendicular boundary to the Governor’s Domain,
the wind and rain plucks the grains out one by one.

jb-image-2

3.

The intimacy of slime lives with me. We are more than ‘digital archives
from the African Pliocene’. Just as cyanobacteria infiltrated chloroplasts
donating a one-off miracle to plants (the ‘green fuse’ of photosynthesis)
‘proteobacteria’ developed the engine that mitochondria use to power
our cells from oxygen – and the world slowly filled with life.

We can’t insulate landscape from history, history from prehistory,
biology from botany, life from lives. Through a Port Jackson Fig
the lapis lazuli sky dissolves around bright cockatoos raising their
scratchy voices and sulphur crests. The fig runs roots down fissures
in the rock with primitives clinging on, ferns sprout fractal wings
and grasses love a pinch of soil. What’s left of Darwin’s tangled bank
flowering elegantly from algal scum these last 500 million years
is in retreat, the sheer variety being locked away in seed banks.
I think that it’s plants that can mend the earth.

jb-image-3

Note:
This wall stands as a reminder that there is a story I want to trace. A 1788 sketch by William Dawes and John Hunter, ‘Sydney Cove, Port Jackson’, gives Djubuguli a sharp nose with a bald head. Leseur’s ‘Plan de La Ville de Sydney’ from four years later shows an aerial perspective suggesting a cliff. Neither show a Gadigal gathering place, or the Blackbutts, Red Bloodwoods and Sydney Peppermints towering above echidnas, antechinus and wallabies, or Aborigines hunting geese and duck in the swampy foreshores, drained and filled to enlarge the original farm now the Royal Botanic Garden. Governor Phillip built a brick hut for his kidnapped friend/informant Bennelong, leader of the Wangal clan, on Djubuguli, hence the new name Bennelong Point.

jb-image-4

john-bennett-pic

John Bennett

John Bennett has won the Mattara (now Newcastle) Prize and the David Tribe Prize and is represented in Puncher and Wattmann’s Contemporary Australian Anthology. A documentary on his work was broadcast by ABC Radio National’s Earshot in February 2016. His PhD updates a Defence of Poetry and he now melds poetry and image with ‘Photovoltaic poetry‘.

 

 

‘our primitive lives’: Zalehah Turner interviews John Bennett, highly commended for the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016

new-shoots-poetry-prizes-no-submission-date

Calls for submissions for the New Shoots Poetry Prizes

Red Room Company twitter banner FINAL 14 July 2016Calls for submissions for the New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016 and the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016

We want your plant inspired poetry!

The Red Room Company, Rochford Street Review and Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney call for submissions for the New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016 and the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016. Poets are allowed to submit up to three poems for either prize. All poems must be previously unpublished, no more than 100 lines in length or 3-5 minutes of audio or video media and on the theme of plants. Poems to be considered for the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016 must relate specifically to plants in the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. Submissions to either prize must include the full name of the poetry prize in the subject line of the email or in capitals on the top of the cover letter, if applying by post. All submissions must be received no later than, 12pm 31 October 2016.

One winner and one Highly Commended poem will be chosen for each prize. The winners and the Highly Commended poems, in both categories, will be published online in issue 20 of Rochford Street Review and on The Red Room Company website. All submissions will be published on the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney website*.
As well as publication, the winners will receive a Corban & Blair Fernery journal and a poetry anthology from Puncher and Wattmann. The Highly Commended poets will also receive a Red Room Company Unlocked anthology of poems and New Shoots seed pack.

The Red Room Company and Rochford Street Review encourage a diversity of voices, expression and poetic forms. We welcome all poets, emerging, established or just beginning a poetic journey and poems in any medium. However, while we encourage an open format, the submission must be considered to be poetry by the judges and the judges retain the right to disqualify a poem if it does not meet this criteria.

Selection panel:
Dr Tamryn Bennet, Director of The Red Room Company and Zalehah Turner, Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review

Plant a seed of inspiration in your mind’s eye and let it grow into a poem

Winners to be announced 1 December 2016
and will be notified by email or post where an email has not been provided.

The New Shoots Poetry Prize 2016 is committed to encouraging entrants inspired by plants throughout Australia. However, The Red Room Company and Rochford Street Review would also like to encourage poets inspired by plants in the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney. No preference is given to either theme or prize.
If you have already submitted plant inspired poems to The Red Room Company and wish them to be considered for either prize please email contact@redroomcompany.org
* poems for the RBG must be suitable for a public site.

Submission Guidelines:

1. All poems must be on the theme of plants.
2. Only site specific poems relating to the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney will be considered for the New Shoots Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Poetry Prize 2016.
3. Entrants must be residents of Australia and 18 years or over at the time of submission.
4. The poem must be the entrant’s original work.
5. The poem must be unpublished and remain so until, 1 January 2017 after the winning poems have been published.
6. The poem must not exceed 100 lines in length if page poetry.
7. The poem must be 3 to 5mins if an audio or digital video recording.
8. Audio recordings of slam, performance or spoken word poetry must be MP3s.
9. Digital video recordings should be compressed in to a zip file and attached to an email. Use Dropbox if necessary.
10. As the poems are to be judged anonymously, the poet’s name must NOT be written anywhere on the page or file containing the poem.[1] However, all poems must be accompanied by a cover letter containing the poet’s name and current contact details.
11. The poem should be a Word document, in Times New Roman font, 12pt font size, single line spacing.
12. All poems to be considered for submission must have a cover letter with the name and contact details of the poet including, a phone number, an email address and a current postal address.
13. All submissions must also include a bio of 50 words and a photo of the poet.
14. All submitting poets are encouraged to take a photo of themselves surrounded or next to the plant or tree that inspired them. However, this is not an essential requirement for submission.
15. The subject line of the email or headline in the cover letter for postal submissions MUST include the name of prize the entrant wishes the poems to be considered for:
a) for GENERAL plant inspired poems, the subject line or heading MUST contain the words NEW SHOOTS POETRY PRIZE 2016 in capitals.
b) for site SPECIFIC Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney plant inspired poems, the subject line or heading MUST include the words: NEW SHOOTS ROYAL BOTANIC GARDEN SYDNEY POETRY PRIZE 2016 in capitals.
16. Entrants can submit by using The Red Room Company’s New Shoots Poetry Prizes submission form  or by email with the name of the prize in the subject line addressed to contact@redroomcompany.org or by post addressed to
The Red Room Company,
PO Box 1105,
Surry Hills,
NSW 2010
17. Poets are allowed to submit up to three poems for either prize. Each poem must be attached as a separate document or file. DO NOT include all the poems in one document.
18. The judges’ decision is final.
19. Copyright will remain with the authors.
20. Submissions must be received by 12pm 31 October 2016 or post marked no later than, 19 October 2016.

[1] IMPORTANT: For submissions through New Shoots Poetry Prizes submission form guidelines 10, 11 and 12 DO NOT apply.

Read the New Shoots poems  published in Issue 19 of Rochford Street Review
Find out more about the New Shoots commissioned poets: Biographical note on New Shoots poets
Read more about New Shoots from Zalehah Turner at Rochford Street Review
New Shoots- The Red Room Company