'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!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Poetry as Therapy

I have used my poetry as a personal therapy to help me come to terms with various issues in my life. I feel centred and in control now, with no regrets from the past and many dreams, hopes and plans for the future.

A major dream I have is to help other people find a place in their life that is good for them, and that helps them find a peaceful centre where they too can dream and hope and plan. I am currently studying at TAFE to attain a Certificate IV in Community Service Work, and I hope to go out into the community and connect with people who want help to find their peaceful place to contemplate the past and move on toward the future.

I am making connections with people, learning and examining my thoughts and actions. I feel ready to step right out and help other people, that is what the tests and quizzes have always said I should be doing with my life.

One thing I did last year that rang so many happy bells for me was to act as a Living Book and tell my personal story about one part of my life to a group of others. The feedback I got from doing this was fantastic, and the buzz I got from doing it was almost the best thing ever. It felt so good to be speaking to the people there, sharing my personal thoughts, struggles and successes. If I can do this for the rest of my life, I will be a very complete and satisfied person.

One of my issues is my chronic illness, multiple sclerosis (MS). I was diagnosed with MS in February last year. It was a shock but a relief to be able to put a label on what my body had started doing to me. I found out everything I could about this new constant companion.

I have been connecting with others who know about this disease, either professionally or through lived experience. I have some friends on Facebook I may never meet in person, but who I feel nevertheless are my real friends. I value each and every one of my family and friends who have travelled my MS journey with me.

For all of my friends, I now wish to share a new poem I wrote this morning. It is a funny little poem (I hope) and I wrote it particularly for anyone who has MS and does Wii Fit, which is my exercise therapy I do at home almost every day. I am very conscious of the "Use it or Lose it" mantra and I want to remain able to walk on my own two feet for a long, long time!

So here's my new poem:

Wii Fit, MS and Me

Wii Fit says I’m unbalanced
well, yes I know that better than you
I tell it I’m not well, but
my words just don’t get through.

Every day, I’m unbalanced
my body staggers and sways,
but my head maintains a balance
that gets me through my days.

Wii Fit doesn’t care about
my positive attitude,
Wii Fit’s just a bossy
compassion-free ‘tronic dude.

But Wii Fit helps me keep on track
it makes me get down and ‘use it’ -
Wii Fit is my everyday tool
to postpone the day I ‘lose it’.

Thank you everyone, I love yous all!


Matt Allen G said...

After being diagnosed with MS I realized that now my main goal in life is to help others, and not just those with MS, but ANYONE in need.

I try my best to share my life on my blog so others can learn from it and I try my best to be there for people in need. I too hope that I can grow this endeavor throughout my life because it helps others and it's self satisfying for lack of better terms.

Carolyn Cordon said...

Matt, thank you for coming here and leaving a comment. I am planning to spend the rest of my life becoming the best person I can possibly be.

If I can show other people a good way to live, and to make their way through the crap nature and life have thrown at them, then I am doing my best.

I am excited about some new things happening in my life this year and I feel that 2011 will be a great year for me. My MS isn't holding me back, it's opening up windows and doors for me!