Poetry Prize

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The Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize

In 2016 at the age of 93, the poet and activist Venie Holmgren passed away. To honour his mother, David established the Venie Holmgren Environmental Poetry Prize, which has been held annually since 2016. 

Each year two esteemed judges are selected to choose a winning poem and two highly commended poems, which are announced at Daylesford’s Words in Winter festival, held annually in August. Also announced at the festival is the Packing Room Prize, a poem chosen by the Holmgren Design office staff.

About Venie

In her late 50’s Venie Holmgren began to write poetry and her first published anthology, The Sun Collection for the Planet in 1989, became a poetry ‘best seller’. At the same time, she applied her environmental activist skills and commitment to the campaign to save native forests near her home on the far south coast of NSW, where she was arrested twice for obstructing log trucks.

After 16 years of solo self-reliant living she moved to the local town of Pambula where she penned her travel memoir, several more books of poetry and travelled widely as a performance poet. 

In 2010 Venie moved to Hepburn where she wrote her last poetry collection, The Tea-house Poems. In January 2016, Venie ‘caught the bus’ at the age of 93 .

You can read more of Venie’s life in this article by The Guardian.

Winners for 2023


Highly commended

Burn Over by George Yankovich

Mambenha Paarka by Brenda Saunders

Previous winning entries

Read the previous year's winning and highly commended poems:


i watch a cat choke / call it [redacted] by Tim Loveday

Highly commended

Burn Over by George Yankovich

Mambenha Paarka by Brenda Saunders


Below the Summit
by Kristen Lang

Highly commended

Local Astronomy
by Jennifer Harrison

Bogong – a Lament
by Sue Aldred

Manna Ash
by Stephanie Powell

Clear and Ancient Shadow
by Danielle Baldock


‘Carried from Hell’s Gate, Tasmania’ by Kerry Greer

Highly commended

Saving Angelthe by Meg Mooney

Carving the Golem by Kristen Lang


Anthropocene Poetics Part 2 by Noemie Huttner-Koros

Due to Covid, the 2021 Venie Environmental Poetry Prize was presented online. You can view the presentation here.

Highly commended

Tracks by Ryan Dickinson

Toolangi by Simone King


God instructs His Angels to Burn the Notre Dame by Hailey Bonner

Highly Commended

A Heart Like This by Kristen Lang 

The Poem After Forests by Frances Johnson

The Packing Room Prize 

Greengage Plums in Preston by Kiara Lindsay


Ode to Earth by Shari Kocher

Highly commended

Nature is a Misreading by Michael Farrell

The Dingo Poem by JP Quinton

Honourable mentions

Plastic Free July by Connor Weightman

Three Teared Wedding Cake by Dennis Garvey


Hamlet in the Mind of a School Teacher by Michael Farrell

Journey, the South Coast by Mark Miller

Highly Commended

Painting Trees at Valla by Brian Purcell

Black Swan Polyptych by Stuart Barnes

How We Get Through  Accidentally by Geraldine Burrowes

Transgression of the Trees by Jeff Guess

Packing Room Prize 

Death of a Gardener by Gary Smith

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