'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!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reasons Why I Write

I write most days, it's not always creative writing, some of my writing is posting comments on Facebook or tweets on Twitter, nothing more literary than that. I try to give a piece of myself with my comments though.

Other kinds of writing I do are these:
Poetry, short stories, novel drafts, blogging, journal writing.

I often write a poem when something major has come into my life. I wrote poetry while I was pregnant with my son, 18 years ago. It helped me to think about the approaching new life and the changes to my own life.

I wrote a little about my depression that followed my pregnancy - being a mother was wonderful, but some of the things I was going through were terrible. I suffered post natal depression, undiagnosed and feeling like I was the worst mother ever.

It was a good time, thinking about it now. I was the best mother I could be, and our son has turned into a good person, which shows I was doing at the very least a 'good enough' job. So that was my first major topic to write about, the combined motherhood and depression theme.

Since then, I've explored being a novelist, but have only got as far as several beginnings to novels, and one first draft of a novel. I still think about those unfinished pieces of work occasionally. Poetry has taken on a larger part of my interest though. I love the way a poem can go from first draft to seventh draft and finshed/published all in the space of a week! Novels can take seven years to get to the published stage!

I've also written articles and published them online on sites such as Associated Content, Triond, and others. The one I still use is Twitter, you can find my work here http://www.triond.com/users/Carolyn+Cordon
This is a way to make tiny bits of money - I rarely get much, but I have fun being a part of the Triond community.

Making money isn't my main reason for writing though, making connections is my main reason. I love the fact that I'm part of the poetry community, both in real life and online. I live in a small town in rural South Australia, but I still get to poetry things when I can. I am involved in Gawler Poetry at the Pub, which happens in Gawler at the Prince Albert Hotel on the last Sunday of the month, except for December.

My next writing thing will be about my most recent major life challenge. In February last year I became ill, and was diagnosed with the chronic and uncurable disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I wrote about this in articles, thought and poetry, and I continue to be involved in the MS community, both online, and in real life. I'm a member of the MS Society SA & NT, and I'm in a peer group of others diagnosed with MS who live near Gawler. It's a chance to connect with people who understand my health issues, and I enjoy meeting with the others regularly.

So the writing part of my MS journey will be the writing of a memoir. I feel strongly about doing this, but I'm also conscious of my abilities, my health and my body. We have summer happening in my part of the world now, and heat affects me badly, as it does for most people with MS. So I'm going to take it easy through summer, and then get stuck into this memoir idea. I hope to be able to write something worthy of publication, but I'm aware I have a long way to go.

Writing is my therapy, and creative writing, as well as connecting with people, helps me stay sane and positive. Another project I want to explore next year is running creative writing workshops. I have gained a qualification in Community Services Work, and combined with my writing and my life skills, I hope to help others find themselves ways to live a positive life. Giving to others gives back so much, and I am keen to give more!

Feel free to contact me if you'd like to know more!


Phillip A. Ellis said...

Thank you for your poignant post. I've only started to know you, and you've given me so much, and trusted me with so much of your story. I feel honoured to have had this chance to learn more and to remember that this world holds many marvellous people such as yourself.

Carolyn Cordon said...

Gosh, thanks Phillip! I know people you know, and I know your words on Facebook. I didn't mention some of my other issues in this post, but there have been a few.

If a person is living, and learning, things will happen, and they'll be thought on. A good life is a gift for surviving the lessons we get.

mistakenforarealpoet said...

Well done Carolyn. Insightful writing.

Carolyn Cordon said...

Thank you friend. I loved the poems you read at Friendly Street.