'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...


john nalone said...

a good question, Carolyn; yes there are \a few autobiographical poems that I have not shared in their original state but I have rewritten them so the original subject matter is obscured without taking away from the poem.

One of my most publshed poems --- 'Shame' --- fits in here as does 'Boy On A Train Crying' which I perform every time I have an audience

Carolyn Cordon said...

Thank you for your comments John. There are poems in my poetry collection I would never have thought of sharing if I hadn't been so desperately wanting to connect with other people who would understand what I was saying.

I'm not sure if that makes sense to you, maybe it does, but I've moved beyond shame now. Now that I know I'm not alone in the shameful things that have happened to me, and now that I can apply the 'shameful' label to the other person, now I have moved further along to being the best person I can be.

Shame is a label that shouldn't be accepted when others give it to you, and most of the time we apply is to ourselves wrongly too. Things happen, we consider them and we move on as and when we can. Mindfulness can teach the way. Listening truly to ourselves and to others is a guide to gaining knowledge.

I've written about properly listening here http://creativewellness-carolyn.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/shut-up-and-listen.html

Dr. J said...

I've written several poems that really, were only for me to process my life at the time. I found it very theraputic! Besides, nothing like times of insanity to bring out the poet :-)

I have them stored in a folder labeled, "Present shock-future growth."


Carolyn Cordon said...

Thanks Dr J, I have a great belief in the therapeutic value of creative writing. My first poetry collection was a wonderful cathartic process for me, and I feel liberated because I've let out some ghosts that have been haunting me from childhood and beyond.

Writing the words down and playing with the things that happened, looking at points of view, and so on helped me. I've heard from others who've found comfort from reading my words too, which has been wonderful to hear.

Shock value growth sound like an interesting theme, I may use that one soon!

Thank you.

john malone said...

your words are very topical as you know wath with the talk of an Aplogy to all those unwed mothers of the fifties and sixties in Australia who were made to feel shame for what happened to them and coerced or persuaded to give up their babies for adoption. I hope one of those mothers takes up her pen as you did regarding your background and writes and writes and ....

Carolyn Cordon said...

I find that writing out the words helps to come to terms with things that happen in life.

Whether it's creative writing or journal writing, it can help so much to examine your thoughts again after you've written them down. My mum has begun using a journal and she finds it so helpful in organising her thoughts.