'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!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Primary School students eat their veggies!

The 'Vegetable Victory' project continues. At Balaklava Primary school yesterday it was time for the students to look at some vegetables, think about how they look, feel and taste.

Their teacher brought a big collection of vegetables to their classroom for the session. There were leeks, a beetroot, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, capsicum, chilli peppers and more. It was a lovely colourful display, and the students were interested in having a look at it all.

I was impressed with the level of interest from the students. I suppose having me in the class is fun because I'm someone they only see once a week, and we talk about different things. The students seem to be enjoying thinking about vegetables and poetry!

Their teacher wrote an acrostic poem about potatoes for the lesson and read that, explaining how to write one. I read my acrostic poem about onions and then it was time for the students to finally get stuck into actually writing a poem.

They had another look at the vegetables on display, then went back to their desks to craft their own acrostic vegetable poems. The teacher and I walked around the class, looking at how the students were going and offering advice. Some of the students struggled a bit, but overall, the standard of poetry written was good.

Once students had written at least one acrostic poem, it was time to try a haiku. These were simply three lined poems with syllable counts of 5,7,5 for the lines, with no worrying about the many details of what makes a good haiku - that would need more time than we had, and it wasn't needed for our purposes. There were fewer of these poems written, but they'll add interest.

Some of the poetic offerings were more than just good, they were excellent. The teacher collected all of the books from the students for checking and spelling correction. Next week the students will type up their poems and cut out pictures of vegetables to put together a booklet of vegetable poems.

This booklet will go to the Balaklava Community Library, and the students will all be published poets!

We all had a bit of Zucchini slice made by the other Community Foodie, and several students asked for the recipe, which I'd already given to their teacher. A very successful Vegetable/Poetry lesson!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Vegetable Victory Update

The Poetry and Vegetables at Balaklava Primary School are on again this afternoon. Last week I read a poem about Carrots(thank you John Malone!), people smiled and laughed at the words, and the carrot sticks I took along for munching on were munched on.

I think if I'd taken twice as many carrot sticks, they would have all disappeared. I'm taking something different today, and next week and the week after. It was going to be zucchini slice today, but that plan wasn't as planned as I thought it was, so I had to zip into plan B, which I'm sure will be even more welcome than the carrot sticks were.

Last week the students gave us their two favourite vegetables, with at least one surprising result. One student said brussels sprouts were her favourite vegetable. Well, I was surprised, but since then, other people have spoken out in favour of this healthy but less than lovely vegetable. Less than lovely in my opinion, that is. We're all different, so it's not surprising we have different opinions. In fact it's a good thing. If we all loved the same vegetable more than any other, there might be problems with us all being able to get enough of it!

The poem I read today will be a rhyming one, plus I might read several short poetic forms. Arcrostic poetry will certainly be mentioned. There will be talk of metaphor and simile, with imagery mentioned perhaps. I'm looking forward to it again.

That's a secret to a good life - look forward to good things, enjoy them as they happen and remember them joyfully!