'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!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Grant Application Result

This morning I was thrilled to read the letter I received from Arts SA. This letter told me that I was successful with my grant application, requesting money to assist with writing my memoir relating to my new medical issue.

I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS), diagnosed in February 2010. This memoir I want to write will be the book I wish I'd been able to read two years ago, when I didn't really know who to turn to, or what those two letter, MS, would mean in my new life.

MS for me is a challenge, but I know now it's a challenge I can meet, a challenge I'm working on with many friends, new and old. The MS community in South Australia and beyond is a wonderful caring community, with ideas and kind thoughts in abundance. I've found new friends since my diagnosis, and I've found inner strengths I hadn't realise were there.

Living with MS is different for everyone, but there are so many things that are the same. I can joke with people who have MS in easy ways about things that would never be a joking point in non-affected people. Knowing there are other people out there who will get my story about needing the toilet, and being able to giggle about it is a great thing.

And knowing that there are people who truly know what I'm talking about when I say I can't do something because MS fatigue has hit me, is a comforting thing. MS fatigue is so much more than feeling tired. Sitting down for a second or two won't help. Sitting down for ten minutes may help though, this time but not the next time. People with MS understand this, they know that being able to do it yesterday, doesn't necessarily mean I can do it today.

Soon I'll be talking to my new mentor, and working out what we'll be doing. My new mentor is a lovely lady, who has written verse novels and is a terrific poet. Dr Ray Tyndale is her name, and I'm looking forward to meeting her in person soon, and sharing this new part of my life with her.

I'm excited about this, and I hope to keep you informed about it over the coming year!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Gawler Poets at the Pub May 2012

The Gawler Poets at the Pub has been going for over fifteen years now. It was begun by local legend Martin Johnson and was the first poetry reading for many now keen poets, who've taken their poetry to great things.

The Poetry Readings in Gawler have a friendly atmosphere and are totally supportive of new poets. Attending these readings is a great way to get over your fear of the microphone, as you face the mic and feel the friendly attention of you audience.

I began my poetry reading career at the Gawler Poets at the Pub in the Gawler Railway Family Hotel. I went for one event, and listened and watched. It all looked friendly and not scary, so I decided that next time I'd face my fear of the mic and read my words.

The next time went well, so I was encouraged to continue reading my work at the Gawler Poets at the Pub. Time goes on, and the venue has gone through a number of changes. Martin has gone through some changes too, and he's currently concentrating of his musical career. You can often find Martin Johnson busking on Murray Street in Gawler, where he has a keen group of supporters.

The Poetry at the Pub is now being organised by a committee (of which I am one), and it's all going well. We meet at the Prince Albert Hotel on Murray Street on the last Sunday of the month, beginning at 2pm. It's a fun and friendly venue, and everyone who comes along seems to enjoy being there, sharing the warmth and the words.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Poetry in the 'Burbs

This afternoon I'm going to Tea Tee Gully again - the third time this week! The first time was a visit to the Tea Tree Gully library for a book launch, Maureen Mitson and her lovely novella "Paper Chase". The second visit to Tea Tree Gully was to the RSL Hall for a meeting of North Eastern Writers. 

Today, my third visit to TTG, I'll be going to the Village Deli for Coffee Cake and Poetry at 2pm - poetry with friends and lovely coffee and cake to go with it, wonderful stuff! I just remembered, this actually makes my fourth visit, because Graham and I went to the Tea Tree Gully library to return our books and borrow new ones.

We don't actually live close to Tea Tree Gully - 45 minutes drive away actually, but we love this library for a number of reasons. It has lots of books, great books, it's tidy, the shelves are well organised, with plenty of room between, the person in charge is lovely, they have a terrific program of events for their customers, there's a cafe right there in the library. Lots of other reasons too - this library is certainly our favourite, and we're members of more than just one or two libraries.

Anyway, back to the main subject. This Coffee Cake and Poetry event has been on a few times now, and it's been a lot of fun. This proves to me that if one person is excited enough and willing to push it hard enough, it's possible to put poetry out there in front of people where you might not expect to see or hear it.

As far as I know, Ken Vincent is the main pusher for this event - he was one of the people who started up the North Eastern Writers, and he's involved with the SA Writers Centre. These things, together with his interest, have put together a fun event.

So that's where I'm going to be this afternoon! Now to work out which of my poems to read...

Friday, May 11, 2012

Writing Poetry for Children

I wrote a new poem today, finished a couple of minutes ago. At first I thought I'd post the poem here on my poetry blog. The more I read through and thought about the poem though, the more I realised the poem was a poem suitable for children, not adults.

I don't mean the poem might not be appreciated by adults, I simply mean the poem is suited more to the poetry market for children. This market is a lucrative one, where poems, if accepted for publication, might earn much more than a single poem might earn in the market for poetry aimed for adults.

I'm not saying it's all about the money, necessarily, but the thought of my poems being read by children and possibly turning them on the the idea of writing their own poems is terribly exciting to me. I've had poems published by the NSW School Magazine.

These magazines come out every term, and they're aimed at three different age ranges. They're produced as glossy magazines, and are illustrated by top of the range children's illustrators. I'm proud to have had my poems published there, and I know many good quality poems have as well.

So, the poem will only have a chance of appearing on this blog if it's rejected a few times, or after it has been published elsewhere. I like the idea of this poem, it's true to me, and I feel it's a good poem, a rhyming poem, in a simple style, but with some interesting ideas for children to think about.

Of course, when I re-read the poem again before I send it off, I may hate it and think it's dumb, I'm happy with it right now though, so that's good. I have the footy on the TV at the moment too, and the Adealdie Crows and thrashing Geelong, and that's not good, it's GREAT!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Football and Nature Combined - Inspiration!

I was sitting in the car yesterday afternoon, watching the fast and furious action on the field. Mallala Magpies A Grade were playing Hamley Bridge. I follow the Mallala Magpies, and I was totally into the game. At least I thought I was totally into it ...

But something caught my eye - it was somewhat in front of me, up and off to the right. I dragged my attention away from the oval and looked to the thing up above the pine trees there. The thing was a bird, one of the birds of prey, possibly a fork tail kite, possibly something else. The bird was too far away for me to be certain of what it was.

It was moving slowly, wings outstretched but not flapping at all. The bird was floating above the road next to the footy oval, or perhaps over the paddock there. I was struck by the slow and leisurely way the bird moved, gliding elegantly with wing tips outstretched like fingers. It seemed to be completely at one with itself, doing the one thing it was always meant to do, flying with the thermals, the breeze, being at one with flight.

On the oval was a story that prompted me to try to capture the whole thing - the men on the oval were also doing the thing they were meant to do. They were at one with the pace, the strength, the beauty of their game. They were beautiful to see, leaping, kicking, tackling. They were poetry in a totally different kind of motion.

They were different, but they were the same. Both things, above me in the sky and in front of me on the oval, they were showing the beauty of Nature, when muscles and practice and talents combine to create something special.

I wanted to write a poem about what I could see, to capture the two things, that were so completely different in some ways but so alike in others. The action in the sky was slow and gentle to the eye, the action on the oval was fast and furious, almost brutal. But both were beautiful.

This is as close as I could get in poetry, I was aiming for a haiku poem that could highlight the juxtapositioned images, eagle and footballers. I couldn't really capture it though, and I knew I'd have to resort to prose to put it all down, which is what this post is all about.

I wanted to have a poem that showed it all, but this is the best I could do :

eagle's slow circles -
footballers frantically
chase the ball

Another thought I wrote down at the time is this one:

During the Mallala A Grade game - a bird of prey circles off to the south east side. The game goes on regardless.

So there you have it, some of my thoughts from yesterday's action, a bird and a game, a fun and exciting day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Not Poetry, But Words Still...

I received notice of a writing competition recently, and have decided to forward on the details to others in Australia. The competition is for either a 'Super Short story' or a memoir. There are cash prizes offered for 1st and 2nd prizes, and certificates for worthy entries. There is a fee for entering, but, considering the prizes monies on offer, the fee is reasonable.

I've put this notice on this blog, because in reality, super short stories have many of the same requirements as poems, so why not!

I used to get a real buzz out of entering these kinds of competitions, and I'm seriously thinking of giving this one a go. You've got to be in it to win it!

Here are the details:

FAWNS Super Short Story Competition 2012

Category A: Super Short Story.
Category B: Memoir.  A memoir is defined as a memory in the writer’s life of an incident, or a number of incidents relating to a single theme.

Closing Date: Sunday 30th September, 2012.

The same conditions apply for both categories.
Maximum - 700 words.
Prizes: 1st - $200; 2nd - $100, Highly Commended and Commended certificates.
Entry fee; $5 – cheques made payable to Fellowship of Australian Writers North Shore Branch.  Stamps or coins will not be accepted as payment for entry.
Enclose a business-size envelope SSAE for results.
No email entries will be accepted.
No entry form required.  Story text, title and page numbers only to appear on entry. Attach a cover sheet stating category (A or B), writer’s contact details, title of entry and word count.  No clip art or decoration of any kind.
Submissions must be the original work of the author, not having won a cash prize at close of competition and not submitted concurrently elsewhere, typed on single-sided A4 paper, double-spaced.
Judges’ decision is final and no further correspondence will be entertained.
Send entries to: Competition Convenor, 5 Clement Street, Strathfield South, 2136
Closing date: Sunday 30th September, 2012
For further information, email fawnorthshore@gmail.com
Results will be posted on this website by Friday 9th November 2012.