'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!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Getting Back on Track

Today I heard from Ray Tyndale, my mentor for writing my memoir in verse, about my new life living with MS (multiple sclerosis). Ray's been travelling to Darwin and back home to Semaphore, driving! A big trip for a lady who's not a young as she used to be. I'm looking forward to hearing all about Ray and her partner's story, next time I see her.

Fortunately, next time I see Ray will be quite soon. Our next get together/feedback session is happening on Wednesday next week. I've forwarded some more of my memoir to Ray via email, and I'm looking forward to hear what she says about it.

This week I haven't been writing too much for my memoir, but I'm getting ideas and scribbling a few notes, to catch up with very soon. I'm thinking tomorrow may involve doing that, if I get custody of the computer, and if I don't spend/waste my time on Facebook!

Today I had an interesting meeting up with a young man who is studying Film&Television at Uni. He needed someone to interview, and his father suggested he interview me. When he got in touch with me about it the other week, I was more than happy to help out.

So this morning, we met up at the Mallala Hotel to do the interview. There were two other students as well helping out in various ways. They all did a great job, and I'm looking forward to seeing the result!

We talked about my poetry - in particular, my first poetry collection, damaged children Precious Gems', and then we talked about my current work in progress, my memoir about my new life with MS (multiple sclerosis). This memoir is being written in verse, with poems added. I'm hoping this memoir will be useful to others diagnosed with MS.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sneak Preview of My Memoir in Verse

This project is moving along nicely, and I feel it's time to share a little bit of it. This memoir is about my new life, living with MS (Multiple Sclerosis).

My thoughts are about the importance of getting this written, and written well. I've got a deadline of November/December for the first draft, with a release date of around the middle of 2013. I'm feeling confident it will work out that way!

Mick the Sick, Jane the Cane and Me

I was at home one day, sitting around and wondering
about this whole MS thing, coming up with phrases
beginning with the letters MS, until I came up
with ones I liked. I thought about the ones
I didn’t like first though, More Strife, Mega Stressful
and so on. It didn’t feel like a good way to spend my time though,
focussing on the new things that were bad in my life.
So I thought about the good things, and came up with this poem,
full of the good things in my new life.
This poem took a little bit of re–thinking to produce, 
but I'm happy enough with how it shows my thoughts.

My Special friend –  Multiple Sclerosis
I have a new friend
who is going to be with me
for the rest of my life.
My Special friend
can get me things, good things
like special car parking
really close to the shops
and maybe even money
from the government.
But like any friendship,
there’s a downside.

My Special friend slows
me down, hanging off
my arm and my leg
so I can’t walk fast and I can’t
carry heavy things. My Special
friend makes life harder
so I get too tired, too often.
But My Special friend is teaching
me things, things about myself,
about life, my friends, my health,
about not taking things for granted.

The good, the bad, the indifferent –
life hands it all to you,
it's up to each person to deal
with what they're given.
My Special friend will show me
a brand new life.

In case you haven’t already realised it, I’m an optimist,
not a pessimist. If it turns out I was wrong,
and something terrible does happen, well, so be it,
at least I was enjoying myself in the meantime!

People say I’m looking well,
I smile and say thanks
I could talk about the shakes
the weakness and muscles
that won’t work like they should

I guess looking well, though
being positive looking
to the future, with hope
all help to walk, it’s enough
or should be anyway.

If I looked like I feel some days
if I looked that sick
and frail, no– one
not even me, would want
to be my friend.

Now I’m wondering
should I be angry or sad
or happy that no– one really
wants to know, what they can’t see,
the things I live with?

I'm not doing this alone though. I have a wonderful mentor helping me, Ray Tyndale, and money from the Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Trust, to help finance the writing  of it. Having Ray as a mentor is working well for me, and keeping focussed on keeping on writing. Thanks Ray!

So there you go, the first fragment of my memoir in verse out there for the public to read! Let me know what you think about what I've written, and about the project I've taken on. I feel like I've begun a noble task.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

On the occasion of my second print run


When I self published my first print run of my first poetry collection, I could only hope I'd be able to find new homes for the 100 copies of the book that I ordered. That was a year ago, and I'm happy to be able to say I've found new homes for almost all of the books.

I'd budgeted for giving some copies away, as well as selling some copies for cost price, but I was able to easily sell enough copies at a good price. Because of this, I'm able to afford another print run, which I ordered a month ago, and which is now ready to pick up and begin the book selling road again.

This book is very up close and personal, dealing as it does with my own story of sexual abuse suffered. I'm not embarrassed about it, although I certainly wish it hadn't happened to me. It did though and I've found peace in the telling of my story.

I've also seen and heard stories of other people who have found things in my poetry collection that bring them ease. Knowing this tells me that printing this collection was a wonderful thing for many. I'm proud of what I've done and I hope many more people will find peace with my words.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

More Vegetable Victory

Well, the Community Foodies in my area, ie, Jill and I, have taken Vegetable Victory to the Owen Primary School. We conducted the first session with the years 5, 6 and 7 class, talking to them about vegetables, and why they're so good for them to eat. We also talked a little about poetry and some poetry was read to them.

The students all drew a vegetable and coloured it in. In further sessions the students will be writing their own poem about vegetables, or more particularly about their chosen vegetable. By the end of the program, it is expected a collection of the poems, together with images of vegetables, will be published.

I didn't know what to expect from the students, never having been in their classroom before, or knowing anything about the students. I was pleasantly surprised though at how many vegetables they already knew. All of the students had to write a list of vegetables, and then they shared some of the vegetables on their list with everyone else.

The Owen Primary School has a fine vegetable garden, and during the class the students all had the chance to tuck into some vegetables that had been prepared for them. There was lettuce, cabbage from the garden, and also some sweet potato and carrot from the supermarket, chopped up and served. on platters. Colourful and fresh, nice!

I'm looking forward to the next session, and hope to find some students getting excited about writing poetry!