'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!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Poets and Platters, Wine and Words!

I had a late night last night and enjoyed myself immensely! I went with some of my friends from my Gawler writing group and we all had a great time. I got to bed two hours after my usual bedtime, but it was completely worth it.

There were some long standing favourites there, and there were some poets I’d never heard or read before. The most amazing poet was a great woman from the Barossa, who works for a different winery. She’s obviously well known in the Barossa, she had the locals outing out of her hand.

By the time she’d finished, I was a fan too. For someone who claims she isn’t a poet, she told a fine rhyme. Jane is her name, but I didn’t catch her last name. It doesn’t matter because if she gets what she wants she’ll be changing her last name anyway!

If you were there you know exactly what I’m talking about and if you weren’t there I feel sorry for you. You missed a great night’s entertainment. The words, the sky, the vibe, the food, the friendship and the wine, they all added up to perfection!

This biennial event is well worth looking out for in Barossa vintage time in 2013. I sure hope to be there!

The event was part of the Barossa Vintage Festival on Wednesday 27th April, 7-10pm at Langmeil Winery, Tanunda. There was wine, nibbles and some excellent poetry and yarns by some of South Australia's finest: Bob Magor, Bill Marsh, Jude Aquilina, Louise Nicholas and Nigel Dey. It was put on by the SA Writers Centre, in partnership with Langmeil Winery.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Precious Gems

Precious Gems is the working title of my poetry collection in progress and it seems like a very precious gem to me. I have been working on this for so long, without realising it, and now it's so close to actually happening.

Writing the poems for this collection, even before I had ever thought of there being a poetry collection, has been so helpful to me. I find my creative writing is my personal therapy. I write out the worry and stress, and write my way to a better understanding of the issues affecting my life.

If I didn't write, I hope I would have found some other creative way to work through my issues. I completely understand the need people have to be creative. It is a chance to move 'somewhere else' and go to a place where you have the peace and quiet to explore yourself in some way.

Last year during winter I spent many hours crocheting a rug. The rug was made up spare scraps of yarn I had, and it was never meant to be a beautiful work of art. It was simply something I could still do, even though I had a new disability. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (ms) in late February 2010, and found my fingers, arms and legs didn't work as well as they used to. I was so glad that I was still able to do crochet.

The Precious Gems poetry collection is something completely apart from ms, something I can do that isn't relevant to my new disease. But that's not really true. Having ms means I now have time and a new mindset. This has given me what I need to properly give these poems the attention they deserve. Without my ms I may never have worked as much on this poetry collection.

In a strange way, having ms has given me a new kind of freedom and I am glad!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Work in Progress - My Poetry Collection

I did a huge job today of almost finishing putting together my poetry collection. It was loads of fun going through all of the poems, and putting them in the best spot. I was almost finished it completely when life intruded, as it often does.

It was time for the dogs to be let in, then let back in, and to start to get organised for dinner. I was happy with my work done, and looking forward to finishing it off tomorrow.

Well, finishing it tomorrow might still happen, but it’s not as super quick and easy as I’d thought it would be. The problem is, when I had a quick look just before dinner was ready, the document was smaller than it should have been.

I checked the poems out and discovered that I’d obviously not properly saved my hours of work. It’s not completely back to the drawing board, but it is quite a bit of editing just disappeared completely. I think a computer whiz would be able to resurrect the work, but I’m not a computer whiz.

If I was, I wouldn’t have got into this predicament, I would have saved it all properly. Oh well… Now that dinner is over (a yummy vegetable dish with hokkien noodles, mmm), I’ve had a better look at the situation. I’d saved most of the individual poems I’d worked on, so I was able to place some of them back in the collection.

I’ve still got quite a few pages missing though, but between the computer files and my hard copies, I think I’ll be in a position to send out copies of the collection for feedback from a few chosen people.

This collection (my first book of poetry of my own) is due to be launched in June or July, hopefully the former rather than the latter. It’s a collection with a special purpose, and I hope some of the feedback I receive will show me the best paths to travel with the book once it’s been printed.

So wish me luck, and I hope to see you at my launch in a few months!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Poetry is Fun!

Yesterday was a fun poetry day. I wrote some new poems and read one of them at a different venue than my usual poetry reading venue. Usually I read my poetry at the Gawler Poetry at the Pub event on the last Sunday of the month. Yesterday was different.

Firstly, it was the first, not last, Sunday of the month. Further to that, it was at the Tea Tree Gully Library, not at a Hotel at all, although there was certainly wine available, served by my favourite head librarian, Symon.

The event was the launch of Helen Lindstrom and Sharon Kernot’s books. The person doing the launching was Louise Nicholas and she did a fine job, picking out many wonderful and telling parts from each poets’ collections. The poets then read several of the poems from their collections, showing more of gems each collection contains.

After the books were launched there was a short break where we could mingle and try out the food and drink on offer. There was also a piece of paper placed close to where the books were available to buy for those who didn’t have a copy yet. Poets were invited to write down their name on the list if they wished to take part in the poetry reading to follow.

The MC for this event was Gary MacRae and he did a great job as he always does. Once the break was over, we wandered back to our seats, prepared to hear the poetry on offer. What was on offer was a buffet of styles and poetic forms. The poetry was the best you’d get anywhere, with some readers who were in this venue for their first time. This part of the event was actually the Gawler Poets at the Pub on walkabout. The last Sunday of the month in April falls in the middle of Easter this year and it was decided to move the event in time and place.

The library put on great equipment to help the poets and those listening to get the best from the words shared. I hope to see some of those present yesterday again soon. I hope also to hear the poems of some of the others present who didn’t take the opportunity to read any of their poetry. Maybe next time, perhaps?