'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!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Judge's speech "Tracks and Trails" poetry competition

Thank you to Carolyn Cordon who organised and coordinated this Poetry Competition.
What a great opportunity she has provided for people young and old to have their creative
work recognised.

What is poetry?
Mike Ladd, the South Australian poet and presenter of Poetica on Radio National, says that the main distinguishing feature of poetry is that it has short lines.

Of course, those of us who love to read and write poetry would all agree with this and, at the same time, know that poetry has other important distinguishing qualities or features. Indeed, poetry can be a kind of ʻword magicʼ(Tunica 2005). It has the capacity to:
provoke and
astonish us

make us laugh
make us cry or
cause a chill to run down our spines

Other distinguishing qualities of poetry are:
* a distillation of words and/or images which give us a unique insight into a situation.
* an unexpected and original combination of words which demand the readerʼs attention.
* subtlety and nuance in relation to the topic of the poem.

To quote from Eleanor Farjeon, a poet and a writer from the nineteenth century:
Not the fly, but the gleam of the fly
Not the sea, but the sound of the sea
Not myself, but what makes me
See, hear and feel something that prose
Cannot: and what that is, who knows?
(Farjeon, E. quoted in Tunica, M., (2005) A passion for poetry)

As a poet and a writer, I understand the work that goes into any poem or piece of writing
and also the effort that is involved in entering any competition.

So, before I talk about the criteria I used and announce the winners I would like to
congratulate everyone for their efforts and for throwing their poems into the ring - to use a
bit of a mixed metaphor.

However, as the judge of this years Plains Poetry Competition therefore I was looking for
poems with the following characteristics:
an element of surprise
short lines
distilled images
subtlety and nuance
Poems that showed me something from a different angle; showed me something familiar but in an original way and, most importantly, still remained accessible to me as the reader.

These are the poems that I feel best achieved those criteria:

I chose the poem Ant Tracks as the best poem from the District Council of Mallala and Tracks and Trails as the best from the Wakefield Regional Council.

In the Primary School entry I chose Tracks and Trails.
This poem was short and sweet; elegant and amusing at the same time.
I liked its juxtaposition of poetic and spoken language. For example:
ʻTracks guide us back to a river
that flows slowly past our camp.ʼ
Then (surprising the reader)
ʻCould you flies leave us alone?ʼ

I was not able to choose a Secondary School winner.
None of the entries met my criteria.

I have, however, awarded a Special Mention to the ballad,The Women Walkers of
Hahndorf for the poetʼs attempt to write in the voice of a young nineteenth century farm woman and for bringing to life a little-known facet of womenʼs history; i.e. the farming women who set off early in the mornings and trudged the many miles carrying their produce to market.

I awarded Commended to The Murray Street Schamozzle for its humour and the way it
recalled the irreverent bush poetry of the past - particularly that published by The Gawler Bunyip.

And now I come to the winners of the 3rd, 2nd and 1st prizes

3rd Prize goes to Stuartʼs party reaches the gulf. In this poem the writer also attempts to use another voice, that of John McDouall Stuart, the Scottish explorer. In this poem, the writer quite effectively, I believe, captures the feelings of desperation which must accompany such a trek. The poem also conveys the question of ʻsuccess but at what cost?ʼ

2nd Prize goes to Train Strike. This poem provided an original take on an ordinary topic. I particularly liked the metaphors that the writer used; such as ʻa brown balloon of rush hour smogʼ and ʻdefeated briefcases pit the sweep of railway stepsʼ.

Finally, 1st prize goes to the poem Millipedes.
I particularly liked this poem for its simplicity, its personal nature and yet, at the same time, the way the poet drew on a universal emotion: grief at the breakdown of a marriage; of a relationship.
The concept of an invasion of millipedes, their toxic trails, the question marks they
inscribed on the walls of the house, the ʻsuturesʼ which cannot mend the relationship all serve as a metaphor, an image of a relationship fraying and of the narratorʼs grief and loss. The poem was also well-crafted - 3 stanzas, with eight short lines in each. The ending was clear and there was pathos without sentiment.

Well done to everyone.
Helen Lindstrom

Monday, February 23, 2009

Poetry in the Pub

The best hotel in South Australia, some great poetry. What could be better? Well, what could be better is a great mob of friends to share it all with.

If you're within driving distance to Mallala, why not drop in to the pub, have a drink, and chat with Dylan and Matt behind the bar. If you're lucky you might see Bec and little Ignatious

Arrive early and have lunch there. Great company, great food. The poetry starts at 2.00pm in the beer garden, with the announcement of the winners of the Track and Trails poetry competition, then it's open mic!

Bring a couple of your own poems along and read them among friends.

If poetry isn't your thing, well hang around anyway, we might be able to change your mind.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The vote is in!

So, should poetry rhyme? That was the question. The answer, according to the very unscientific poll conducted on this website was...


No surprises there, I'm sure. Because, most of the people who voted are involved in the contemporary poetry scene. They might look at this matter in the same way I do - different styles for different poems. Personally, I find the poem picks the style, most of the time.

If I was setting out to write a limerick, the rhyming is the uppermost point to the poem. I would never try to write a limerick about 'The lady whose hair was orange...'
Because there ain't no rhyme! lol. So the limerick is a poetic style that needs to rhymes, I'd say the villanelle is another form that needs to rhyme, in a particular way. Ballads also require rhyme.

What was my point in running this poll?

I was hoping to start a bit of a discussion on this part of poetry, to have poets think about the whole thing and enlighten me, and other readers of this blog, as to their take on the whole thing.

I've posted the comments from people who emailed me, rather than post comments to the blogsite, and very interesting comments they are too. I am still very open to receiving further comment on this subject, and any poetic subject in fact.

I also welcome anybody who can make it to Mallala on the 28th February 2009. 2pm is when we will be announcing the winners of the Tracks and Trails poetry competition, and there will be an open mic session there afterwards.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Should Poetry Rhyme?

What are your thoughts on this one?

I would love to see a discussion going on on this question.

Put in your vote and we'll see who wins, rhyming or not rhyming.

We were discussing this at my writing group the other night, and there were some very definite ideas about it. I know what I think and I'd love to know how you look at the whole thing.

So, don't be afraid to vote - we all have the right to our own opinion.

And speaking of opinions, I'd love to know your opinion on the rhyming/non rhyming question.