'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, January 31, 2012

My Very Own Sestina

Well, it took longer to create than a haiku would have taken, and it covers more ground, with many more words. 

A fortnight of my life went into the writing of this complex poetic form. The sestina certainly isn't for cowards! It's a good way to play with words though, and I enjoyed it all immensely. I'm using poetry to keep my brain ticking over and making connections, and so warding off dementia. I hope it's working, and continues to work!

This poem has been through a short critiquing period, and I now feel ready to share it with the larger world.  January has been an amazing month of poetry for me, with at least one poem written every single day of the month.

I've met some lovely poets and great people, and I've taken my critiquing skills, and poetry writing skills to a higher level. And the best thing is, I did it! I met the challenge of writing a new poem every single day!

So here is the sestina I wrote and posted for Month of Poetry 2012 :

A Way To Get By

Every day I think, I’ll make a list,
but it doesn’t happen again, I forget things.
Everyone forgets, I shouldn’t worry,
as I look for what’s forgotten this time, and search
for what I need, hoping the rest will follow.
I’m struggling with my disease, that’s the truth,

struggling to find a way to live, a truth
that’s truer than any half-forgotten list.
There’s methods to try, ways to slavishly follow
so I can relax and not stress about things.
It would be pleasant not to have to search,
if I could spend more time on fun, not worry,

and with what I’ve got I feel that endless worry
may try to become my new, unwanted, truth.
I’ll deal with it myself, and hope the search
by others for help, ends up on government’s list
of the many needed items, medical things
that can lead to a cure and better times to follow.
There are diets and exercise regimes to follow,
healthy food and working out end worry,
to some extent, when you’re busy doing things
and trying your best to locate an inner truth.
Worries about living can go lower down your list
of things to do to live your life. The search

for bad things can move on and become the search
for better ones. There’s many paths to follow,
and when the one you’re on turns bad, list
the benefits, if any, and the things that worry
you, look with care and thought and find the truth
that comes when you bring mindfulness to things.

If you can take a broader view of things,
you might be able to get over the painful search,
the daily mess of stuff obscuring the truth.
Find a life that works, with rules to follow
that leaves you free but means you needn’t worry
about what’s on or isn’t on your list.
Work on all the things that matter, follow
the rules that ease the search and stop the worry,
but understand that Truth’s what counts, not List.

© 2012 Carolyn Cordon


Phillip A. Ellis said...

It's a good start, albeit a trifle to bare bones, too stilted to flow with any certainty. I say this as a certain amount of fluidity is essential for the conversational style this poem seems to be aiming at, since it eases the argument along and through the repetitions.

I guess, also, working in stronger uses of enjambment can make the repetition less obvious, as well, and the running of the sentences over the stanzaic breaks is a good, praiseworthy feature of your poetic here, and they help the speed of reading.

You might like to try working with the rhythm a bit as well, so that theere is just that hint of musicality in the lines, to help heighten the language and make it less prosy, even if you're attempting a proselike language. Having subtle modulations of register and voice can enliven a poem; I don't mean "as obvious as John Tranter's shifts of register" but more subtle, more fluid, if you will.

Carolyn Cordon said...

Thank you for your thoughts on this poem Phillip. You've certainly given me something to work on, to turn this poem into something better than only slightly better than OK.