'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!

Monday, November 23, 2009

What does a Poet need?

Something to write with,
something to write on.
And these three things,
that is all.
A poet needs a spine,
a delicate eye
and a thick hide.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gardens and Poetry

It doesn't get much better than the event put on at the Tea Tree Gully Library yesterday. Jude Aquilina and Sarah Clay read poems, Lolo Houbein (One Magic Square) and Miles Trench (Holistic Gardening) told us about their gardening philosophies. It was interesting, clever, funny and anything else good you can think of.

The poetry was exquisite, the gardening tips were timely and ever so useful. I still thinking about feng shui in the garden and also about how I can get started on my own one metre garden.

We should all be supporting our own kitchens with vegetables and fruit - there's no excuses really, one square metre is big enough for a plot to grow your own salad - thank you Lolo. And if you're interested in slightly new age ideas, well Miles has it all for you.

Both of the garden speakers has books available for purchase, and they did a roaring trade. I've driven around the Tea Tree Gully/Modbury area and I can see why Lolo's ideas were popular.

I believe this was Sarah's first big reading of her work, and if so, well, she did a fantastic job. I enjoyed her poetry and her homespun truths about what her garden gives back to her.

Everybody should take some time and have a look at the wonder and beauty waiting for them just outside their back door.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Poetry Prompts

Sometimes you want to write a poem but you can't think of anything to write about. Other, glorious times are quite different, the ideas are buzzing and the words are flowing. It happens all too rarely.

One idea to try when nothing seems to be prompting a poem to appear, is to look at the newspaper. Headlines can be intriguing and can be enough - you don't even have to read the article, and in fact it's less limiting if you have no idea what the story is about.

A good idea I heard about recently is to have a box where you cut out interesting things and put them in the box. Then, when no ideas are coming, just take a couple of ideas from the box and see what happens.

Of course, this won't make a poem happen immediately, but if you play around with the idea, something may pop up and away you go. I find inspiration from just sitting outside and watching what nature is up to.

Last night I saw domestic disputes amongst some sparrows, and some territorial issues were being sorted out by other birds too. I have written about birds quite a bit and I'm currently thinking about Hornets, because I've been challenged to write a poem about them.

That poem is still brewing and I know I need to start writing down the thought scraps flitting around in my head. Not writing ideas down is the biggest waste of poetic talents. So many great ideas arrive, only to disappear when we finally get around to working on them.

I could fill a poetry collection with the fantastic poems I never wrote! If only I could remember them.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Connecting with others, finding hope

I've begun an online conversation with a young girl on the comments section of one of my Ezine articles. It started when she commented on my post, saying she disagreed with it and was offended, I responded, she responded, I responded (yet to be published). Now I'm waiting to read what Jasmin has to say next. The article in question, with comments is here. I'd love to find out what others think about the whole thing.

I don't know where Jasmin comes from, but I suspect she's from the US, because she seems to have a lot of self-confidence. It doesn't matter where she's from, it was the words, and the connection that is the most important thing.

We started out on a bad line, but I'm feeling happy about the whole thing and I hope Jasmin is too. I feel this little connection shows how good things can be achieved if you don't jump to conclusions and you keep your mind open to other ideas.

The reason I'm writing about this here is that Jasmin mentioned acrostic poetry and alliteration. I like alliteration lots and lots, actually I love alliteration! It's a tool for poets and other writers, a good tool, but you have to use it wisely.