'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!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Creative Writing is my Personal Healing

I had a car accident last week, on Monday. Something went wrong, I lost the steering in my car and I crashed. The car was the first car I've ever owned myself, all the other cars have been in my husband, Graham's, name.

When my car came to a halt, I realised I was pretty well completely unhurt. I thought about what to do, but a wonderful lady arrived to help me. She took charge of it all, and invited me to sit in her car while I waited for various emergency people and my husband to arrive.

I looked at my car and was sad. It looked far sicker than I was. It seemed strange that my car could be that damaged, but I was fine. I thank the people who make things safer for us all. If it weren't for the safety fence, my seatbelt and safety features in the car, the result would have been tragic rather that merely sad.

Anyway, I thought about all of this, and I dealt with the sadness in my usual way, I wrote a poem about it. Creative writing is my way of getting my head around things. Writing the words down, editing them, playing with them and then sharing them helps me to understand my life, myself and the world.

I truly believe that creative writing has healed me, getting me over my grief at losing my car (it was written off by my insurance company). Creative writing has also helped me to deal with the various issues I have had in my life.

I feel that creative writing is a fine tool for a person to have to help them get through the challenges they have in life. It is a thing I wish to assist people with. That is what I wish to spend the rest of my life doing - assisting people to write their way to a better life.

Anyway, here is the poem I wrote about my car accident. I hope you find something in my words.

It could have been traumatic

Control lost, spin around, crash and spin some more.
Safety found, deep breath and look around.
Help approaches, mobile in hand, she calls for uniformed
help. She saw it all, soothes me, comforts me, a quiet heroine
‘It’s wasn’t your fault’ she says, ‘not your fault at all’
Two more people arrive, soothing, helping, bits of my car
taken off the road. She tells the cop the same
when he flashes up, and starts asking questions,
‘Not her fault,’ she repeats. Mission accomplished,
the helpers all leave, taking with them a new story to tell.
I sit in the cop’s car and he tests me, questions me,
soothes me too, we chat while we wait. ’Not your fault,’
he says. Graham arrives, tow truck arrives,
cop leaves, we leave, returning home,
where life is in control, no spin at all.
I feel soothed not traumatised.

Carolyn Cordon 2011

If this poem says anything to you, please feel free to leave a comment here, thank you.


Colleen Moyne said...

Really like this. Sorry to hear about your accident but glad you're ok. xx Colleen

Carolyn Cordon said...

Thank you for your kind thoughts Colleen. The accident could have been much, much worse. Safety features saved my life.

Mena Essex said...

Been there done that. Poetry is now a form of therapy for me too, but it is now the knowledge and experience that comes with age not trauma that provides the inspiration. Keep writing, I like your style.

Carolyn Cordon said...

Thank you Mena, I try to do my best!