'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!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Poetry at the Pub this Sunday!

If you love poetry and you can get to The Prince Albert Hotel this Sunday, come on down!

It's a brand new year, and we're ready to show you some great poets on the last Sunday of this month and every following month up to November this year. The guest reader on Sunday will be Jenny Toune, known to her Facebook friends as Red Uncensored and I'm hot to hear her perform for us all!

So, if you can, make tracks quick to Gawler for the 2.00pm start on Sunday 30 January. Bring your own poetry too - all poets will have three minutes to read up to three of their own poems. You'll have a fantastic supportive audience and the front bar is right their where the poetry's happening!

The best poems read on the day will be in consideration for the poetry anthology for 2011. And if you missed out on a copy of the fantastic anthology from 2010, we still have some copies left. So bring your poems, a gold coin donation if you want to read your work, money for a copy of last year's anthology and bring your smiles too, cos the laughter will be right there waiting to hit you with love and hugs and poetry!

Friday, January 21, 2011

My First Acclaimed Poem

I'm a poet - I have written poetry off and on since my school years as a child. I didn't write a lot of poetry back then, just the occasional poem. I strongly remember though, that I wrote one poem that worked well and got me much praise. I was thirteen or fourteen at the time, and at that uncertain teenager stage, the praise was welcome.

I no longer have a copy of that poem, but I think my mother might still have a copy of it. I remember the subject I was doing at the time and I remember the name of my teacher. It was History class and my teacher was Mr Scalzi (he later went on to become a member of parliament in South Australia). I didn't really like history classes, and I'm still not a huge fan of history.

In history, I see the glorification of war, with so many people not learning a thing from what they've experienced, read about or seen. The same things happen over and over again. Invasion, conflict, war, death. Surely we should have learned how to avoid the terrible things that happen, that go so wrong?

Anyway, back to my first acclaimed poem. I wrote a little verse about a man in ancient somewhere that started with a 'C'. The man was beseeching the gods to let him keep his child and not sacrifice him to the god. It was a rhyming poem, but not in a clunky half-arsed ballad way. Well, I don't think it was anyway. This happened more than thirty years ago, so I'm not totally sure of the details.

I don't even remember whether we students were supposed to be writing poetry, I suspect not, but I wrote the poem and included it with my presentation on the subject of wherever - it may have been Carthage, something like that.

The writing of this poem taught me many things. Some of the things I realised at the time, others I have came to know as I have aged. The first thing I learned was that I liked writing more than I liked studying. Writing the poem was much more fun for me than learning dates and names. I learned with surprise too, that not many of my fellow students liked writing poetry.

I also learned that my mother is a lovely person and that she was truly proud of me for something I had done. This was a good thing to learn. I was never a sporting child, unlike my older brother. He did lots of great sporting things, so he got his deeds clapped for and awarded often.

I went on to become what I am now - a published poet involved in poetry in my community. I am also working on my first collection of poetry. This is due to be published in the middle of this year. If my mother and my teacher hadn't made much of that poem all those years ago, I wonder if I would still be in the same position and doing the same things now?

It can be small things that happen when we're young that can have significant effects on us. These small things can happen to anyone, and change things around in major or minor ways. I think when I see history presented in a way that highlights the good that can come when people are treated in a good way, or when they have an epiphany, finally understanding something important, that's when I like history.

Going back to better understand what has happened, I can see sense in that. This little story about my first important poem has shown me that history can be important. Hours and hours of watching TV about fighter jets killing people and ruining cities has never taught me anything much except that violent confrontations are terrible things. It's a shame not everyone learns that lesson.

I have learned that words are more effective than violence in life's situations. I avoid violence, except for watching sports, and even then I prefer sporting talents over body to body clashes. I hate punch ups on the footy field - it shows a lack of the real talent necessary to do the thing properly.

Do you have any deep things you have learned? I'd love to read about it. Please leave a message!

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Haiku Just Written

on the big screen,
death and violence reign -
a bird tweets outside

I sometimes go outside to look at the birds out there. I have a fascination for birds, the easy way they can rise above me, the way they connect with other birds, the different voices the various bird species have.

Today though, I am sitting at the computer, my ears assailed by the sounds from the video game my husband is playing. I can also hear a bird though, its sweet song a needed counterpoint to help me rise above the game.

I haven't been outside to see the bird, but I assume it's a blackbird. Black birds have such a sweet voice, I almost forgive them for the damage they cause to our potted plants sometimes.

I like to write poetry, in various forms. I find the subject matter determines the form the poem takes. When I heard the bird outside tweeting gamely over the racket from the game, I knew I would write a haiku if I wrote about it at all. And I did want to write about it.

If you have ideas about different poetry forms, I'd love to read about what you think. Please leave a comment.

2011 Poetry Competition Results Soon

Entries closed for the Adelaide Plains Poets Poetry Competition on Friday 7 January 2011. Unless more entries come in with the mail in the next day or so, that's it, all finished.

Two things about the poetry competition this year - The Bad - entry numbers were down - this was perhaps caused by a not good enough job of promotion, the global economic situation, death of poetry (not true!), Poetry Slams taking the place of written competitions, people hate me ... (I don't believe this is true either!)

The other thing about the entries this year - The Good - I received some extremely good poetry. I feel the overall quality of the entries is excellent. This always makes me happy - to see people taking their poetry to amazing places. I feel privileged to read these poems in my role as Competition Secretary for the Adelaide Plains Poets Inc.

The theme "The Great Race" was used by many of the poets in a straight forward and literal way (ie about a race) , but some people twisted it and had incredible interpretations. I don't know what the judge will do with the poems, but I'm sure looking forward to seeing the results!

The winners will be announced at the Prince Albert Hotel in Gawler during the March Poetry Reading on 27 March 2011. The poetry reading event starts at 2.00pm, so if you're coming along to hear the competition results, bring some other poems with you too and read them. The Gawler Poets @the Pub is a friendly event, and the poems read during the year will be considered for publication in a Poetry Reader at the end of the year.

The committee running the Gawler Poets @ the Pub hope to connect with poets from all over, whether new poets or those who've been penning their poetry many years. If you can make it to Gawler on the last Sunday of every month (except December), we'd love to see you at the Prince Albert Hotel.

We still copies of the Poetry Reader from 2010 available - a fine compilation with so many fantastic poems. 2010 was certainly a terrific year for poetry at the Prince Albert Hotel in Gawler. If you're interested in getting a copy, leave a comment/message at the end of this blog post and it can be organised.

I hope many of you can come along and join us in 2011, and help make this year even better than last year!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Poetry as Therapy

I have used my poetry as a personal therapy to help me come to terms with various issues in my life. I feel centred and in control now, with no regrets from the past and many dreams, hopes and plans for the future.

A major dream I have is to help other people find a place in their life that is good for them, and that helps them find a peaceful centre where they too can dream and hope and plan. I am currently studying at TAFE to attain a Certificate IV in Community Service Work, and I hope to go out into the community and connect with people who want help to find their peaceful place to contemplate the past and move on toward the future.

I am making connections with people, learning and examining my thoughts and actions. I feel ready to step right out and help other people, that is what the tests and quizzes have always said I should be doing with my life.

One thing I did last year that rang so many happy bells for me was to act as a Living Book and tell my personal story about one part of my life to a group of others. The feedback I got from doing this was fantastic, and the buzz I got from doing it was almost the best thing ever. It felt so good to be speaking to the people there, sharing my personal thoughts, struggles and successes. If I can do this for the rest of my life, I will be a very complete and satisfied person.

One of my issues is my chronic illness, multiple sclerosis (MS). I was diagnosed with MS in February last year. It was a shock but a relief to be able to put a label on what my body had started doing to me. I found out everything I could about this new constant companion.

I have been connecting with others who know about this disease, either professionally or through lived experience. I have some friends on Facebook I may never meet in person, but who I feel nevertheless are my real friends. I value each and every one of my family and friends who have travelled my MS journey with me.

For all of my friends, I now wish to share a new poem I wrote this morning. It is a funny little poem (I hope) and I wrote it particularly for anyone who has MS and does Wii Fit, which is my exercise therapy I do at home almost every day. I am very conscious of the "Use it or Lose it" mantra and I want to remain able to walk on my own two feet for a long, long time!

So here's my new poem:

Wii Fit, MS and Me

Wii Fit says I’m unbalanced
well, yes I know that better than you
I tell it I’m not well, but
my words just don’t get through.

Every day, I’m unbalanced
my body staggers and sways,
but my head maintains a balance
that gets me through my days.

Wii Fit doesn’t care about
my positive attitude,
Wii Fit’s just a bossy
compassion-free ‘tronic dude.

But Wii Fit helps me keep on track
it makes me get down and ‘use it’ -
Wii Fit is my everyday tool
to postpone the day I ‘lose it’.

Thank you everyone, I love yous all!