'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!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Writing Poems that will Never See the Light of Day

Yesterday I wrote a new poem. I was early for the Gawler Poetry Readings to begin, so I got out my lined paper and began writing a new poem.

The writing of this poem had two purposes. Firstly, it was something to do while I waited for everyone else to arrive, and secondly, it was an opportunity to record some of my thoughts on the interesting political matters that had been attracting a lot of my attention.

The political matters pertain to the leadership of the Australian Labor Party. I went a little mad on Friday and Saturday, avidly following tweets to #respill, where the political comments flew fast and thick. I put in some tweets of my own, and picked up and lost a few followers, having some of my own tweets retweeted. This was a little bit of a thrill for me.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about here, don't worry, it's not actually terribly important, in the greater scheme of things. No lives were lost, and only metaphorical shots were fired. I like to pretend I'm one of the 'players' in political journalism, but of course my readership and follow numbers are minimal... It amuses me and keeps me off the streets, so that may be a good thing!

Anyway. The leadership challenge has happened now. Australia still has its first female prime minister who far too many of my fellow Australians hate, and the opposition leader is still abhorrent to me. We shall see how it all pans out over the next few days, weeks or months.

I may get out that poem I wrote yesterday, or I may leave it to sink into obscurity. It doesn't matter, the words are down, and my time was spent in a way I enjoyed. All poems are important to me, but they're not all important for the same reasons...

Do you ever write poems that aren't necessarily there to be shared? Please tell...

Saturday, February 18, 2012

After My Month of Poetry - January

Last month was a full on month of poetry, not  just for me, but for many others. Well known
Queensland poet Kathryn Apel called for interested poets to join her for the month of January to be part of her Month of Poetry team.

Many others joined her, and were given the choice of either posting a daily poem, or posting an occasional poem. There were no penalties if one didn't meet the criteria, but I, and I suspect many others, became addicted to meeting the challenge of writing and posting a new poem every day.

The website where this took place was a closed site, and participants were given passwords to get into the relevant part of the site. It was extremely well run, and the poets seemed to thrive there. We were encouraged to not just post our own poem, but to read and comment on the poems of the other poets there. It was in effect an online critique group.

The poets involved were wonderful, some of them very fine poets indeed, and I read some wonderful poetry in the month of January 2012. I've become Facebook friends, and a Twitter follower of a few of the Month of Poetry members, and I hope the connection will continue and strengthen over time.

In December, when I let Kathryn know I was keen on joining this site, I had no idea exactly what I was letting myself in for. I had hoped I'd write some poems and hoped I could manage one a day (challenging!), but I had no idea of the joy and creativity burst that would occur.

I found it was easy to write a poem every day, and I in fact wrote more than the thirty one poems, one a day, that the challenge demanded. I in fact wrote at least one poem every day in January and on some days I wrote more than one poem (I wrote at least 45 poems in January). I was thrilled with that, and I was thrilled with the way my writing for January went beyond the writing of poetry. 

I found more things to write about, and began to post to some of my blogs much more often than usual. This is pleasing to me. I call myself a poet and writer but if I can stick with the increased blog posting, I'll feel comfortable enough to call myself a blogger too. I'm getting more followers on my blogs, especially this blog, so that day is getting closer.

A great side effect of the Month of Poetry for January is the increase in creativity with my various kinds of writing, which is still going on now, after January is over. I hope to keep this up, and continue writing more, and more often. I've written more poems this month than any other month, apart from January 2012, my Month of Poetry. 

So thank you so much to Kathryn and all of the lovely poets who kept me company for January 2012!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

More to Life than Poetry!

I try to write something new every day. I mean something more than tweets and posts on Facebook pages, mine and other people's. Today though, I ended up writing a piece of non-fiction.

This piece isn't suitable for this Poetry Blog, but it is suitable for another of my blogs. I have too many blogs, and some of them are terribly lonely. I was slightly addicted to Blogger for a while at one stage and went way overboard with creating new blogs.

Now I mostly post to this blog, because poetry is one of my main interests. Dogs, and family life are other strong interests. Living a Creative and Positive life is another one. The non-fiction piece I wrote falls into the scope of the Positive life blog, so I posted the piece there. If you're interested in reading it, go here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Death of a Mouse

This morning, it happened again. One of our mouse traps did its deathly business. I wrote about it on my Facebook page, and I felt I had to write a poem about the poor little creature.

This is what I wrote on my Facebook page, and the poem I wrote for the little mouse follows that. My Facebook post caused others to comment on the unwanted little creatures that visit them.

RIP to the mouse that was caught in the trap at the same moment Jake walked in the front door a little while ago. And RIP to all of the mice who have died in my kitchen mouse traps. I wish you hadn't been caught, but I also wish you'd stayed out of my kitchen.
When I finally become enlightened, this will stop happening, but I'm not there yet. Sorry

To the mouse who visited uninvited,
I’m sorry. You snuck into my kitchen
and nibbled where danger lurked.
The quick trap snap probably took you
by surprise, as efficiently, it took your life.
My eyes prickled with tears as I watched
your death spasms, your little legs twitching.
I'm sorry. I wish you’d never visited at all.
I disposed of your soft, still body, as I’ve
disposed of so many of your kind. 
My kitchen isn’t your larder, and I’m not here
to keep you and your kind fed. Goodbye.

If you have little creatures who visit you, please tell about them here. Mice, lizards, insects...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Ways to Write New Poems

I'm a member of a group of people who write poetry. We meet once a week, in the home of one of the members. Sometimes we talk about writing related things, sometimes we read our poetry to the others and critique the work that was read. Sometimes we do writing exercises.

Last Thursday night, one of the members gave us a writing exercise. We had to think of a word, then write down words that related to that first word. Then we had to write a poem using as many of those words as we could.

The exercise was a good one. All of us there gave it a go, and came up with a new poem, which we read to the others. I felt my effort was lame, and not worth much, but when I read it aloud, and received feedback about it, I could see some merit in my efforts. I may take that baby poem soon, and work on it, drawing out the metaphors there, and making it more than a lame little baby poem.

This is one of the things that being a member of a writing group can bring you. Different ideas can help to encourage you to tread different paths, try new things, or try doing old things in new ways. If you're in a rut with your writing, having a new kind of exercise can be just the thing to jump start you out of the rut!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why I'm Not Posting My Most Recent Poem Here

I sometimes post my poems here, and I certainly write about my poetry interests here. I wrote, or rather finished the first draft of, a new poem recently, but I'm not posting it here.

I've been thinking about and working on this little poem for about a week and yesterday I got to the last full stop. I'm not going to post that poem here though, not yet. I have other plans for that poem, a plan that will lead to reasonable money, if the poem is accepted.

That's why I'm not posting this poem here. If I were to post that poem here, on this blog, that would mean the poem has been published. Posting work to a website that is open to other people equates to publishing, for that work. And lots of potential publishers aren't interested in work that's already been published.

If a writer is interested in gaining mainstream publishing, it's important to consider these issues. If, on the other hand, writers are interested in getting their words 'out there' and aren't chasing widespread mainstream publication, then blogs can be a godsend.

I've tried to be a little choosy with my words, in particular poetry, and so try to remember to think of the possible opportunities for each poem. I say 'try to remember', as I've proven many times, I'm not perfect. I make mistakes, the same as everyone. And of course, just sharing my words with others is a fine thing. There's no shame in posting poetry to a personal blog, because that's just another, and sometimes very effective way, to share your words.

Anyway, once the little poem that prompted this discussion has been considered and published, or found to not meet the publisher's requirements, then the poem may be posted to this blog. When that happens, my followers, and others who happen to find their way here, can read the poem. It's nothing life changing, but I like to think it's cute. I may be completely wrong about that, you can be the eventual judge, when it appears here.

As always, I welcome the thoughts on others on this blog post!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Someone's Son

This morning I saw a young man risking his life. Knowing there's little I can do to save him, I felt I had to put something down in words. 

A poem then, for that particular young man, and for all of the others who risk their lives on the roads. There are so many...

Someone’s son

He went past, faster than the speed limit says
and not as safe as the law says he should be.
No helmet, hair blowing in the wind, his
motorbike is a weapon of mass distraction
from life’s rules. I can only ponder the mind
of one so clueless and hope he has a lot more
good luck than he has common sense.
And I fear for his parents and others who 
love him. Every man is someone’s son…