'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!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Villanelle - How to Write One

I can't say I'm an expert on this one, but I have written one which I think was well done. I've searched the internet and found a site that shows and explains how to manage this frustrating poetic form.

This site gives a studied look at one villanelle poem - read it and you will understand the form. I recommend having a rhyming dictionary close at hand if you want to give the villanelle a try.

Frustrating yes, but when you get it right, you can be justly proud of yourself. It isn't easy to get the right lines to use in this form. A villanelle repeats two lines at regular intervals, and if you get it wrong it can end up lame, or stupid.

If you have been writing free verse poetry and want to try something more structured, why not give the villanelle a try? The form has been around for over three hundred years, and has been successfully written by famous poets - Dylan Thomas has one that almost everyone would have heard of 'Do not go gentle into that good night/Rage, rage against the dying of the light' . If you've never heard of it, well, do yourself a favour and read it. It does the job so well, so deeply and it has been moving people for over seventy years.

My best villanelle so far isn't so famous, but it has received favorable comment from poets wiser than me. Here it is if you're interested (careful, adult theme):-

Repressed memory syndrome

She didn't know what she would find,
she hoped an inner peace may rise
as she searched back to her child-mind.

Not innocent, she wasn't blind
as she looked deep with knowing eyes.
She didn't know what she would find,

reluctance should have been a sign
of what she hadn't realised -
the secrets locked in her child-mind.

Hoping for something soft and kind,
recalling only pain and lies.
She didn't know that she would find

an image of a harsh face, lined,
hard callused hands and frightening sighs
bewildering to her child-mind.

Her mother had ignored her cries,
the bruises on her skinny thighs.
She didn't know what she would find,
she'll bury again her child-mind.


TK said...

I think this is one of your best works!!!! Well done, Villanelle is really difficult for me with the rhyming lines that just don't come naturally to me...I always feel really stupid when I write them!!

Carolyn said...

Thanks for commenting Tiff - I wonder if Teri has tried to write one. Maybe that could be a goal for our group - write a villanelle that won't make you cringe! They are not easy!

Helen Hayden said...

Heres mine caroline, its titled

Peace and quiet, tranquility of day,
Brings to ones mind, peace, glory
Of all the things to come what may.

Hoping the grey clouds roll away,
Let the sun exude its warmth,
Peace and quiet, tranquility of day.

As the sun beckons through clouds today,
The trees blossom, ready to bare fruit,
Of all the things to come what may.

The birds chirp, so happy and gay,
Flying feeding, mating rituals begin,
Peace and quite, tranquility of day.

Farmers harvest, cutting hay,
Hoping, praying for a better year,
Of all the things to come what may.

Sitting in the glorious sunlight,
Taking in the warmth, the excitement,
Peace and quiet, tranquility of day,
Of all the things to come what may!