'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, March 12, 2012

To Rhyme Or Not To Rhyme?

That certainly is the question so many poets toy with when they first begin to write poetry. They have the words inside that want to come out, but they're not sure of the best way to go with their words.

Many poets, including well published ones, tend to write rhyming poetry, other well published poets may never write rhyming poetry. So, as a new poet, which way should you go? The question can tie your head up in knots, so you never get any poetic words on the page at all.

The answer though is simple. Write the words down first, play with them until they shimmer and shine and can bring to the mind of the reader of your poem what you want to show them. This can be an image that struck you, a person you know, an experience you wish to share and a million other things. Then give your words to the world and let others tell you whether they can see what you wanted to show them.

You can do this in a strict poetic form, such as a sonnet or villanelle, or you can do it with the free-est free verse ever. The important thing is to get the words down and polish them until they do their work.

If you end up writing free verse, be prepared to listen to the doubters, who will never agree to free verse being poetry, rather than cut short prose. These people are wrong. That's all there is to it, they are wrong. Poetry is not prose. In prose, the words are put down on the page, one after another until you run out of room for that line and start the next. With poetry, you carefully consider where the line best ends, which word goes best with which other word, and how the whole thing looks, and feels on the page.

There have been many fine writers who have written further on this subject. I'm not going to write much more, except to say this - for me, the poem tells me whether it will be a rhyming poem, or free verse. The poem knows.


Carolyn Cordon said...

Thank you to the people who have voted so far!

TimT said...

Sometimes the poem can be lying to you though. :) I voted!

Carolyn Cordon said...

Thanks Tim, appreciate you visiting, I'll come visit your blog now!

Poems don't lie to you, you may just not understand them properly. Listen properly to the words, the words are the truth!

john malone said...

a well argued piece, Carolyn; in every poetry course I have ever taught this topic comes up.

My own response is if the lines that come from your head come out all 'rhymy' then you rhyme; if not, then free verse

Carolyn Cordon said...

Thank you John, I firmly believe in letting the poem have its head in these matters, in the beginning.

Once the words are down though, that's when that nasty critic in your head can turn into your best friend. I have rarely written a fantastic poem first time up, my best poems are all good poems made so much better with editing.

I've seen many first drafts of poems, from both adults and children that showed promise, but ...

Second drafts helped to hone the poem, bringing out the promised wonders, and making a good poem, a great poem. To anyone who doesn't believe in editing your work, I say, come on, give it a go, you'll be amazed at how great you can be.

Drafts are like the delicate chipping away of a chunk of granite, or piece of wood, that a sculptor uses to find the shape they can see, that's waiting to get out and be seen by all, not only the sculptor.

john malone said...

eloquently put < carolyn; I certainly advocate drafting so long as you retain the energy of the original inspiration

Carolyn Cordon said...

I try to keep my first draft copy of my writing. That way I still have the first words that came to me when I have an idea for a piece of creative writing. That way, I can find the spark again if I edited the spark to blandness.

Well, that's the way it's supposed to go, and so far it's worked that way for me.