'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!

Friday, January 21, 2011

My First Acclaimed Poem

I'm a poet - I have written poetry off and on since my school years as a child. I didn't write a lot of poetry back then, just the occasional poem. I strongly remember though, that I wrote one poem that worked well and got me much praise. I was thirteen or fourteen at the time, and at that uncertain teenager stage, the praise was welcome.

I no longer have a copy of that poem, but I think my mother might still have a copy of it. I remember the subject I was doing at the time and I remember the name of my teacher. It was History class and my teacher was Mr Scalzi (he later went on to become a member of parliament in South Australia). I didn't really like history classes, and I'm still not a huge fan of history.

In history, I see the glorification of war, with so many people not learning a thing from what they've experienced, read about or seen. The same things happen over and over again. Invasion, conflict, war, death. Surely we should have learned how to avoid the terrible things that happen, that go so wrong?

Anyway, back to my first acclaimed poem. I wrote a little verse about a man in ancient somewhere that started with a 'C'. The man was beseeching the gods to let him keep his child and not sacrifice him to the god. It was a rhyming poem, but not in a clunky half-arsed ballad way. Well, I don't think it was anyway. This happened more than thirty years ago, so I'm not totally sure of the details.

I don't even remember whether we students were supposed to be writing poetry, I suspect not, but I wrote the poem and included it with my presentation on the subject of wherever - it may have been Carthage, something like that.

The writing of this poem taught me many things. Some of the things I realised at the time, others I have came to know as I have aged. The first thing I learned was that I liked writing more than I liked studying. Writing the poem was much more fun for me than learning dates and names. I learned with surprise too, that not many of my fellow students liked writing poetry.

I also learned that my mother is a lovely person and that she was truly proud of me for something I had done. This was a good thing to learn. I was never a sporting child, unlike my older brother. He did lots of great sporting things, so he got his deeds clapped for and awarded often.

I went on to become what I am now - a published poet involved in poetry in my community. I am also working on my first collection of poetry. This is due to be published in the middle of this year. If my mother and my teacher hadn't made much of that poem all those years ago, I wonder if I would still be in the same position and doing the same things now?

It can be small things that happen when we're young that can have significant effects on us. These small things can happen to anyone, and change things around in major or minor ways. I think when I see history presented in a way that highlights the good that can come when people are treated in a good way, or when they have an epiphany, finally understanding something important, that's when I like history.

Going back to better understand what has happened, I can see sense in that. This little story about my first important poem has shown me that history can be important. Hours and hours of watching TV about fighter jets killing people and ruining cities has never taught me anything much except that violent confrontations are terrible things. It's a shame not everyone learns that lesson.

I have learned that words are more effective than violence in life's situations. I avoid violence, except for watching sports, and even then I prefer sporting talents over body to body clashes. I hate punch ups on the footy field - it shows a lack of the real talent necessary to do the thing properly.

Do you have any deep things you have learned? I'd love to read about it. Please leave a message!


Dragonwyst said...

I don't remember which might have been my first acclaimed poem. I do remember my first maligned poem. It was about a pony, dun in colour, and my teacher thought I ought to have written "done" in colour. Ignoramus! If only teachers used a dictionary before deducting marks. I was most upset because the deducted mark was never given to me, and to this day dun remains one of my favourite horse colours.

Carolyn Cordon said...

I hope that stupid teacher discovered the error and felt stupid. Dun has always been a colour for a horse - in fact it's probably the oldest colour that horses have!

Matt Allen G said...

Unfortuneately, it always brakes down to money and when it comes to WAR there is no exception. Sure we spend billions upon billions of dollars on war but it's making someone out tehre rich and thats why we "fight".

Has nothing to do with spreading democracy (when it comes to the USA) its all about Capitalism. Shame, shame, shame. People won't learn that war is bad till it's effecting them PERSONALLY.

That had nothing to do with your poems I know, but you mentioned it and I felt the need to comment haha but your right, without a doubt the things that happen to us when we are younger effect our outcome as we grow older.

Carolyn Cordon said...

Thanks for your words Matt. I feel sorry for you, living where you live. I'm much happier with my govt than you can be with yours. I had such high hopes for Obama when he was elected, but I've realised he's just one man, up against the money!