'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, August 14, 2011

My Edited Poem is too Shy to Come Out!

I've edited my poem about my walker, which I posted on this blog previously. Now, I don't feel up to sharing it with the world.
I write to share myself with the world, in the hope that others will find new things that may help them. This poem though, hmm, it's hiding away on my computer. Should I reach in and drag it out, or should I give it a little more time, so I can tweak it some more?
These are common thoughts for me, and I suspect other poets too. How do you know when your poem is properly cooked through? When will your poem be strong enough and right enough to make the connections you're searching for?
The only way to find out may be to put the poem out there... Not yet though, no, not yet.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The world is full of gloom and doom

Don't do this, don't do that! So many rules, it's no wonder we sit around hating life and hating ourselves. 

I want to add a happier note to the overall tone of the world. So I'm posting this poem, which shows how to get the best out of chocolate! Yum.

Guilt free

Another’s plan is to eat less chocolate,
I want to eat better chocolate and more of it.
Dark chocolate, luscious, caressing my tongue
coating my teeth so I lick each tooth
again and again, tasting the chocolate, at one
with the chocolate. The chocolate creeps in,
swallowed, and I wallow in the sublime pleasure
of the flavour. I don’t crave it, I savour it.
Giving in feels like winning, tasting
not wasting. Having enough and wanting no more.
Denying myself would be so wrong,
letting myself to have it - no guilt at all!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A new poem, waiting for your input!

I mention this poem previously on this blog, but didn't do anything about it at the time. I believe that creativity must be nurtured, but must also be left alone at times.

I've written other poems in the time between back then and now, mostly on quite different subjects. Today though, I remembered that other poem and felt the need to finish it off and turn it from a few scrappy words into a properly formed poem.

It may not be completely finished, and I certainly welcome any feedback others may have to help this poem. At the moment I'm happy with the poem, but there's no telling how I'll feel about it tomorrow. I really feel I need feedback on it, and I hoping you will help me with it.



Ode to My Walker

It arrived one day, unheralded
left by the door as one might leave a note -
no note this, but a message still, unguarded
and protected by an invisible moat.
A sign of disability and loss,
walker used by the aged and infirm -
if I took it up, what would be the cost?
I hid it inside, the gift at first was spurned.

It stayed inside, unused, as I wandered through the house
one room to the next, general cleaning up
releasing hounds and letting them back in,
throwing out each unwanted mouse
then resting with computer and coffee cup -
my peaceful times a need and not a sin.

I was hiding it seems from what was there in front of me,
passed it many times, eyes averted and didn’t see
the thing that promised much to aid my fragile walking -
the walker had the news, but I didn’t hear it talking

But the walker now is in my car,
ready if I need it.
I’ve a hunger to follow my new life’s star,
the walker will help me feed it.