Winner of the Writing Challenge

As part of today’s International Mother Earth Day, we would like to share with you a poem by Jennifer Kohler that won the Goodenough College Environmental Week 2022 Writing Challenge.

International Mother Earth Day aims to raise global awareness of climate change and the resulting challenges to the well-being of the planet and its population. At the same time, the day seeks to promote recognition of humanity’s collective responsibility to achieve a just balance between the economic, social and environmental needs of current and future generations. As such, Jennifer’s poem is a powerful and insistent reminder of our responsibility to preserve the beauty of our planet and acknowledge our shared humanity in doing so.



I know a mother
who watches unmoved
as her children set fire
to their homes.

What a cruel mother
you may think, as she
keeps on turning
indifferent to whether
the planet is blue or brown,
whether there are birds
to greet each morning,
or silence all around.

A cruel mother, you say,
as she floods and storms,
yet she gave us all we needed
to make it, together,
on our own.

The knowledge of certain death
to value each turn.
The pain of love and loss
so we would know where to look
to feel each other
and stand together.

Yet here we hustle,
aware only at the end
that there was less time.
Too busy fighting wars
that briefly catch attention
of an Instagram frame or two
before it’s back to avocados on toast.

What a cruel mother, you say,
but what is more cruel
than a mother who has given
the world to her children
and has to bury them herself.

Jennifer Kohler