'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!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Writing Better Poetry

Do you think you're incapable of writing poetry? I don't agree. I think you're just looking at it the wrong way.

When people begin to learn how to do something, they don't expect to be experts straight away. They might have lessons first, then practice it, and they will slowly get better at it.

If they're really keen to improve, they might get further lessons, masterclass lessons perhaps, with a person who is acclaimed in the particular thing. I'm thinking here of a broad range of things - tennis, running, painting or cooking. It might take a while, but learning your particular thing with an expert can begin to make you an expert too.

Most sensible people don't think they're going to be expert at their thing right from the beginning. So why do so many people write off their ability to write poetry before they've even really begun to write it.

Well known poets worked for many years before they were accepted as being great. Some of them were never really acclaimed until after their death, after years of writing poetry.

So if you think you can't write poetry, why not give yourself a chance, and find someone who may be able to help you. You don't need an expert, sometimes just having a poetry partner, someone who perhaps is also trying to learn, can be enough. You can share your poetry and think about what works well and what doesn't work so well.

If you do it this way, you may eventually begin to see ways to write poems you feel proud of. It truly can be that simple. In most towns there are courses or writing groups, where like minded people meet to think about poetry and write it. If you can find such a group, you'll probably surprise yourself, and find you can in fact write poetry.

What a fine thing that would be!


john malone said...

It is certainly far easier and less time consuming to write a poem as compared to a short story or a novel

Carolyn Cordon said...

I sort of agree with you on this one John. When you're talking about a short story of 2,500 words or more, it's more difficult and takes longer than a writing a poem.

I've been working on writing my first sestina this week though John and that's a completely different kettle of fish! I've finished the first draft of the first five stanzas now, after an hour or so working on it this afternoon. I have the last stanza left to do, and the envoi.


So that's a six line stanza and then the three line envoi to go. There's no rhyming scheme to worry about with writing the sestina, but the rules are complex, that's for sure.

At this stage, I think I'm going to be proud of myself if I finish it at all, no matter the actual quality of the thing!

john malone said...

well yes writing in what seems a convoluted form would certainly come close to being demanding as a 2000 word short story. It may even take more time

Carolyn Cordon said...

Yes John, it's an extremely convoluted process. I still have the final stanza and the envoi to write for mine. I'm trying not to look back too much on what I've already written in the poem. I'll give it a super close look once I've finished the whole thing.
Whenever that might be. Perhaps tomorrow...