'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!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poem idea starters

I've written poems for many, many years. I remember the poem I wrote in high school for Mr Scalzi's History class once. I was supposed to be writing something, not a poem but something else, about some part of Ancient History that began with a 'C'. I can't remember what the town or country was apart from knowing what letter it began with, but it was in Europe, which might as well have been on the moon, it bore so little in common with my own life.

Anyway, I was thinking about the whole thing, or more likely not thinking about it, and I wrote a poem. I liked the poem enough to submit it for my History assignment. My History teacher liked the poem too, and I received a good mark for it. That made me feel good about my abilities, which is always a nice thing to have happen, when you're a teenager. 

This experience didn't make me love History, but it strengthened my love of English. As a good reader, who liked to write poetry, English was always my favourite subject. The point of this slightly rambling explanation is this: Poems can come from most unexpected places.

I hadn't intended writing a poem in that History lesson back in the seventies. I was open to writing a poem though, so when that poem arrived, I was there to capture it. I took that poem home from school and shared it with my mum. She liked the poem too, and she still has a copy of it. I haven't read the poem again, but I still remember what it was. 

The poem was a metaphor for something in my own life. My feelings of not understanding what was required of me to live my life properly came out in that poem. I don't know if anyone else got that out of the poem, but poetry is always open to the interpretation of the reader. 

So now I will reiterate my point - poems can come from unexpected places. Now I am a keen birdwatcher, and I live in rural South Australia, about sixty kilometres north of Adelaide. Because I live where I live, I have lots of birds to watch. One thing that's intrigued me for many years is the behaviour of Welcome Swallows. 

We have a swimming pool, and I often see swallows circle around the pool, then flying in low to touch the pool's water, the off again. I used to think they were taking a drink from the pool, and I didn't think the water would taste very good.

A friend recently said to me that the reason the swallows would be dipping in the pool, would be to get some water to make mud for making nests. I've carried this little snippet around in my head for a month or so, and now, finally it was emerged in a haiku poem.

I've wanted to write about the swallows flying around the pool in this way, and this information, combined with a haiku written by the Japanese master haiku poet, gave me my first successful poem about these lovely little birds. I love haiku poetry, and I'm glad I've finally got a poem about them, and how they connect with my life.

I'm not saying this is a wonderful poem, that's not up to me to say, but I'm happy with it. It captures the moment for me, and when I read it, I can see in my mind, a swallow circling and skimming across the pool surface and up again. I have no idea where the swallows go from my pool, I just know they arrive and fly off again.

This is the poem:

dips in again,
pool water to make mud -
where is swallow’s nest?

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