'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, May 30, 2010

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What to Write Poetry About

So many times when you try to write poetry, you end up staring at the blank screen or page and your mind is every bit as blank as they are. Nothing happens because you can't think of anything to write about.

I have found a fantastic source of poetry material, something that won't dry up for a long time. And if you follow this idea, and run out of material, you won't care, because your life will better for having done it!

This idea came from a page on Oprah's site, a piece by Mike Robbins, who seems to often write and be on this website/show. I say 'seems to' because I don't watch Oprah or go to this website often. I don't mind if you don't believe me, because I know the truth and if you choose to not believe me, it won't affect how I feel at all.

Anyway, this is the page here

Feel free to go and have a look. You may feel differently about it than I do, but I'll tell you this - I loved it! I immediately posted it to my Facebook page with this comment:-

I just read this and love it deeply already. I have many flaws and I try very hard not to hate them. I am overall a good, but flawed person, just like everyone else. I love my flaws, I may try to write a poem about each and every one of them. It will be a middle sized collection by the time I've finished - I'm not big enough to have a huge collection of flaws!

So that is my plan for never running out of things to write about - Mind map one of your flaws, that is, write down anything that comes to mind when you think about the flaw. Don't edit your words, just get it all down on the page. Next, leave it for a while, or get onto it straight away if you want to. Different people work in different ways - whatever works for you is the right way!

Then, pick out the words and/or phrases that strike you as something true, then write them down and do a mind map on those too. By now you may well have the makings of a poem! If not, keep mind mapping until you feel there is something there to work with.

Write down the poem, think about it, edit it, think about it some more. When you are convinced you have it shaped into its best shape, leave it a bit longer. Then come back to it, edit it if necessary, and voila! You have a poem.

If you are the same as most people you have lots of flaws, and you have a nasty gremlin in your head who tells you about your flaws quite often. Now you have a double tool - you will be finding things to write about, and you will be silencing that nasty gremlin. I love these Win/Win situations!

So, next time you want to write poem, but can't think of what to write about, take the common advice - 'Write what you know'. What you know better than anyone is yourself. If you follow my advice you will be learning more about yourself and you may well be collecting a deep and meaningful collection of poetry.

Even if what you write is only relevant to you, it won't matter, because you will have been learning about yourself and becoming more mindful of the things that are true for you. This sort of creative writing therapy can be a great help in showing you the direction your life should be going.

I wish you happiness in your journey into your own mind!