'Freedom' competition Judge's Report


By Jude Aquilina

I felt privileged to be the judge for a competition with such an important and inspiring theme as FREEDOM. Thank you to all the poets who entered – you reminded me of the many different forms that freedom can take. These included: freedom from war; freedom of speech and thought; freedom in retirement and through travel; through bushwalking and horse riding; freedom from a refugee’s point of view; freedom in nature; freedom from abuse, racism and ageism; freedom through religion and freedom through zen; freedom in self-sufficiency and going off the grid; even freedom in death from suffering and freedom to reunite with loved ones in the afterlife. Congratulations to the competition organisers for choosing such a wide-ranging and thought-provoking theme.

The quality of the poetry was extremely high, in every section, making my job as judge difficult. Many more poems than I can mention deserve praise. And I was especially thrilled to read so many amazing poems by school students. I know the future of poetry is in good hands.


In the Primary School Section I chose four poems to Commend:

· Feeling Free (1) Lorena Burford - Horizon Christian School

· Freedom (18) Amelie Kowald – Domino Servite College

· Camping Moment (3) Sophie Manuel - Horizon Christian School

· Waking up on Saturday (8) Benjamin Trinkle – Domino Servite College

And I chose the poem The Freedom to Read (17) to Highly Commend Kezia Ziegelmann – Domino Servite College

For Third Prize, I chose a poem titled Charlotte and her eggs (6) Alexandra Hill – Tea Tree Gully Primary School – a clever and unusual poem, with rich poetic language and apt use of the senses.

For Second Prize, I chose the poem titled Freedom in Science (14) Wesley Trinkle – Domino Servite College – this enthusiastic account of the freedom, wonder and creativity in science, had me thinking and kept me smiling. This young poet has captured the thrill and passion in engaging in creative thoughts and experiments.

First Prize goes to a poem titled Freedom for me (16) Brandon George – Domino Servite College - a beautiful and vivid poem about finding freedom in the Australian countryside, when, I quote, ‘the evening shines like brass’. With images like this, I was transported me to another place. Congratulations to a poet with a talent for painting word-scapes!


In the Secondary School Section I chose three poems to Commend:

· The Beautiful Word (25) Amal TlaaOur Lady of the Sacred Heart College

· What is it? (28) Olivia Hayes – Domino Servite College

· I wanted to fly in the beautiful sky (12) Jasit Kaur – Domino Servite College

And I Highly Commended three poems:

· What happened to our acceptance? (6) Chloe Wightman – Domino Servite College

· Freedom is a funny word, isn’t it? (5) Jesse Blakers – Hawker College

· Why would you wear something so inappropriate (4) Freya Cox - The Friends School

For Third Prize in the Secondary School Section, I chose a poem titled Freedom Lies in Being Bold (8) – Aimy Tran - Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College - a mature, intelligent poem that is a reminder of what women have achieved, and what is yet to be achieved in regards to equality. This is a bold and thought-provoking poem.

I chose, for Second Prize a poem titled A white blanket laid over Syria (13) – Rabjot Kaur - Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College The poem relates vivid images of human suffering and gives the war in Syria a human face. This is a memorable, emotive poem that does not shy away from truth; an important narrative that needs to be written and read.

First Prize is awarded to a vivid lyrical poem simply titled Freedom (2) – Maya Chromik – Horizon Christian School. This poetic list of images captures the sense of freedom that we, here in Australia, are fortunate to enjoy free of charge, like, I quote ‘collecting stars at night’ and ‘finding dirt roads that lead to the unknown. This clever poet has put together a collage of positive experiences to capture the theme of Freedom in a clever and resonating way. Congratulations!


In the Open Section, there were many great poems that addressed the theme of Freedom in quirky ways like the three poems I award Commendations:

· The Cost of Zen (55) Helen Thurloe

· a peregrine falcon (86) Claire Albrecht

· Child of My Heart 928) Shelley Hansen

And I Highly Commended four outstanding poems:

· 1976 (no number) Stephen Smithyman

· Strawberries and Poppies (25) Donna Edwards

· Advance Australia - Fair (29) Chris Richardson

· Moon meeting (62) Nina Scott-Bohanna

Third Prize in the Open Section goes to a poem titled Free at Last (80) Tom McIlveen that takes the reader back to early Australian convict history. Rhyme, rhythm and meter are employed to effect; with this style suiting the era. I also enjoyed the authentic voice and dark humour.

I awarded Second Prize to a poem titled Transitions (84) Kerry Harte an ironic poem with moments of dark humour. The poem is about reading a shiny brochure for a nursing home, in which, I quote, are ‘The faces of the people … bright and bubbly as champagne’. I like this poet’s unfaltering tone and apt imagery.

First Prize goes to a poem titled, Freedom wakes me in the morning (69) Rhonda Cotsell It was a joy to read this intelligent, compassionate take on the theme. The poet focusses on the small things that mean freedom but also encompasses the big picture. This poet has captured the intangible, the essence of what freedom is and what it means. Congratulations to this brilliant poet. May freedom continue to wake you in the morning.

Thank you, Carolyn and the Adelaide Plains Poets for this enlightening experience.

Jude Aquilina


As the President of Adelaide Plains Poets, I thank the judge and of course all of the entrants in this competition, where we received well around 130 poems from around Australia, based on our broad topic of Freedom. As the Competition Secretary I say thank you to all of the lovely poets who sent their work to me and kept me entertained as I read the poems as that came to me in the mail, or by hand. And of course thank you to the teachers involved, keeping love of language alive in the young people they work with every day at their work!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Poetry, poetry, poetry

The Gawler poetry reading was enjoyable, the Silver Tounged Ferals were fantastic and even the drunken interloper has me thinking about a new poem in his 'honour'.

As they say in the classics (or maybe a beer ad) "It's all good". I caught up with friends , defended my husband, didn't drink any alcohol, and had a thoroughly good time. 

What wasn't quite so good was getting home to a frustrated spouse and a vacuum cleaner that didn't seem to be vacuuming. Instead it was blowing dust around and being generally irritating. Things should do what they're supposed to do. I might even write something about that in verse, but I'd better work out how to get the damn thing working first. 

We flea bombed the house and need to vacuum up those dead fleas.

Anyway, another topic. I am the President of Adelaide Plains Poets Inc, and we have held a poetry competition every year since 2005. This year the topic is 'Tracks and Trails'. Entries are open to all Australians and there are sections for students and  one for adults. I will email an entry form and guidelines to anybody who sends me an email asking for it. 

holkschter@bigpond.com is my email address - entry for adults is $5 per poem and there is no entry fee for Primary and Secondary school students. There is a prize pool of over $500 for the winners.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Attending poetry readings

I'm off to my usual poetry reading tomorrow - at Gawler in South Australia, run by Martin Johnson and Cathy Young. This poetry reading is lots of fun and I can catch up with my poet friends there.

It's not too far from my home which is a huge bonus in this time of high fuel prices.
The first time I went along to Gawler for a poetry reading, about five or six years ago, I was terrified and I wasn't even reading my work. These days, I'm not scared because I know I'm among friends, and I know I'll hear some great poetry.

I strongly encourage everyone involved in writing poetry to chase up a poetry reading venue and get involved. There will be a friendly audience and it is fantastic practice in public speaking.

I often feel I want to read a poem, that I've heard being read, which is a good thing for me and for the relevant poet. These sorts of occasions are informal enough that you can do this. I've made some good friends through my poetry, and I catch up with them in Gawler once a month.

Another good thing about this poetry reading venue , as well as others, like Friendly Street Poets, is that there is the possiblity of having your poem published in an anthology.

I love having my work published - I love to see my work and my name in print! Call me a media hound if you like, I don't care! So do yourself a favour and get along to a poetry reading. It's also a great way to test run your poems and get feedback.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

writing your heart out

For me, poetry has been my therapy. I've had issues, as we all have had, I'm sure. Good things happen, bad things happen. Poetry can help celebrate the good things and make sense, at least, of the bad things. I've written a poem about this, a simple little verse, but it felt like something that was asking to be written. Here it is:

Still waiting

I don’t believe in fairies

there are no tiny creatures

giving rewards for teeth

the bottom of my garden

has only weeds

the good things that happen

just happen

I don’t believe in fairies

bad things happen

get used to it

no amount of sparkly dust

will save this world

good people do good things

bad people don’t

I don’t believe in fairies

but I do believe that one day

good might conquer evil

that’s what I

believe in

Simple, right? But it felt good to write it and it has felt good every time I've gone back to it to read it again, or to edit it further. My little bit of introspection - I re-read this poem and think about good and bad things, do a little meditation perhaps.

It works for me, it could work for you too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Looking for something to write about?

I know what it's like some times. You want to write a poem, but can't think of anything to write about. The itch to write is there, bugging you, but your brain can't come up with anything to focus on.

I have lots of poem starters, and I'd love to share them with you. Try this one first - borrow a book about art from the library, (one with pictures). Sit and look at the painting, with a blank piece of paper and a pen or pencil nearby. Write down anything that pops into your mind, no thinking, just write it all down. Do this for a set time - ten minutes or five minutes,whatever suits you, but keep on writing until the time is up.

At the end of your time, look at what you've written. Does anything, a phrase, a sentence jump out at you? If it does, write that down on a new piece of paper, and write down anything that you think of. It doesn't have to make sense, in fact it's better if it doesn't make sense. That's for later.

Next, see if you have any theme or themes happening - can you see any coherence in what you've written? If you can, that's great, take that line and run with it - new piece of paper, follow on the path that has suggested itself to you.

If you can't see anything coming together, that's still great - you still have an open field to play in. If you like the painting, write down about twenty words, phrases or short sentences about what you like about the painting. If you don't like the painting, write twenty things about what you don't like about it.

Next, write a name for the painting, whatever you think suits it - this is the title of your poem. Then write out the words, phrases or sentences, each one on a new line. Continue until you have twenty lines. Voila! You have written a poem! It's that simple, or that deep, depending on your point of view. Put the new poem into a folder, and do it again tomorrow, with the next painting, you'll have a nice collection of work if you keep at it for a week. You are a poet!