'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, June 29, 2012

I Love Limericks!

I'm sure almost everyone in the English speaking world knows that the limerick is a kind of funny poem. The limerick hails back to Ireland and it is thought to have been around from the 14 century. It's a popular form, and many a funny limerick has been shared by friends over a drink or three!

This limerick is possible the most famous limerick of all, although I suspect the ending for this, the original, may differ from the one told in the pub.
There once was a man from Nantucket,
Who kept all of his cash in a bucket,
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

(from http://www.limerick-and-limericks.org)

As you can see from this poem, the limerick has five lines, with lines 1, 2 and 5 having the same rhyme, and lines 3 and 4 rhyming.
The lines with the first rhyme have 3 beats, or stresses, each line, and the lines with the second rhyme have two beats per line.

So these are the rules for writing a limerick, they have 5 lines, they rhyme in a particular way, and they have a certain number of beats or stresses for each line.

Simple, isn't it? Why not think of someone or something you want to write a funny poem about, and get started!

The Society of Smiling Scribes will be holding their first meeting on 5 July at the Mallala Hotel, 1.30pm. We will be having a workshop on writing the limerick, and we will be having lots of fun! Come join us if you can! (bring pen and paper)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

New Poetry Group in Mallala area

There's a new poetry group now in the Mallala region. The group is a part of Adelaide Plains Poets inc. (APPI), the poetry group that run an annual poetry competition. 

The purpose of this small group, named 'Society of Smiling Scribes', is to bring smiles to the faces of all who come across it. We will be writing limericks, and other forms of funny poetry, and sharing our fun stuff as widely as possible!

The first meeting of the group will have a workshop about writing limericks, the rules, the history and so on. Writing will be shared and critiqued, and no-one will be allowed to be negative. Failed attempts on the day are only limericks in progress, and with editing, they can be made better!

If you live within driving distance of the Mallala district, and you can afford the gold coin donation to attend, please come along to the Mallala Hotel on 5 July 2012. The workshop begins at 1.30pm, if you want to dine first, arrive early. The Mallala Hotel has wonderful food available at very reasonable prices.

I'm looking forward to seeing you there!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Poetry doesn't have to be tragic!

I'm a positive kind of person. My friends will possibly confirm this - I never complain too much about things. I tend to take what life hands to me, and if it's not good, I keep looking at it until I can see something good in it. Big black clouds bring the rain we need sometimes, and they bring beautiful rainbows too. That's the sort of thing I see, almost every day.

I was thinking about not much a few days ago, and had a sudden idea about a poetry group I'd love to belong to - a group of poets who all think positive things, and write lots of happy and funny poetry. The sort of poetry you snigger over when you read it, the sort of poetry you wish you'd learned at school, instead of that bloody thing with the daffodils.

I thought about this for half of the day, then I thought of an appropriate name for this wonderful group, if it ever came into existence. Then I decided it wasn't IF it came into existence, but WHEN it came into existence. And I want that time to be soon!

The name I want for the group is Society of Smiling Scribes. I want us to meet and write limericks, funny epitaphs, cinquain, acrostic and lots of other kinds of fun and funny poems. There will be a kind of rule about being positive and happy when you're at a meeting, and perhaps the same when you leave the group meetings too. Smiles will be many and shared easily with all.

I'd like this group to be close enough to where I live that I can afford to go every time, and I want it to be a group that meets regularly, depending on what group members decide. Are you interested in this group? If you are interested, and you live anywhere near the Mallala/Gawler districts, get in contact with me and we can meet up! 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My MS Memoir

Well, I've begun writing my memoir on my new life, living with my new disease, MS (multiple sclerosis). I sent a copy of the prologue to my new mentor a few days ago, and I'll get some feedback from her the next time we meet up, in a few week's time.

Just to make it all a little more interesting, I've decided to include prose and verse in this memoir, including some poems I've already written about things that have been important in my first couple of years of living with MS. I love poetry, writing verse helps me to work through my thoughts.

The writing of this memoir will be a thing I don't do totally on my own. My mentor, Ray Tyndale will be there with me, and so will lots of people who are living their lives with MS too. I hope to get in contact with people to find out about the things they'd like to know, and the things that have helped them, too.

Having a disease that can impact on a person's mobility can be devastating. If you can't travel on your own, and can't find someone to help you, I can barely begin to understand how it might feel. Personally, I'm doing well. I can still drive, walk a little bit and so on. I'm able to use my fingers and my voice, so communication is relatively simple.

It's not that good for some sufferers though. I hope my memoir, once it's written and released out into the world, will be able to offer some hope and help to everyone who wants to know more about the MS life. If nothing else, I hope my memoir will help people to explain to their loved ones, friends and/or carers, what their life is like.

If you have anything you think could or should be in my book, please let me know! I'll do my best to include it.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

On Meeting My Mentor In Person

This morning I went to the Sarah's Sisters Cafe in Semaphore to meet with my poetry mentor, Dr Ray Tyndale, for the first time. I'd been told Ray was a lovely person, and I was completely thrilled to be able to confirm this! We seemed to get on extremely well, and covered lots of ground in this important initial meeting.

The project I will be working on with Ray is my memoir about my new disease, Multiple Sclerosis (MS). That's the easy part. The tricky part is that I want to write my memoir in a combination of prose and verse. The verse part is why I wanted to be able to have Ray involved, to help me to get the verse right. I've written another blog post about this, celebrating my success in the grant application process, to pay for Ray to be my mentor.

Now that Ray and I have met, and chatted about what I want this memoir to be, it feels like this is really going to happen. I'm getting even more excited! I shared a little bit of this meeting I had with Ray this morning, with the people at the meeting I was at in the afternoon. This meeting was with a committee of people involved in the MS Society SA & NT. They were excited for me, and one lady asked when I would have this book out. I said, without hesitation, late next year. 

Was that brave, stupid or ridiculous? I think a bit brave, but also a bit truthful - I certainly feel like I can get this done in time, and have the book out in time for Christmas next year. It's going to be the perfect Chrissie present for someone you know who has MS! Every library should have a copy!

Now I have to write the first chapter before I next meet with Ray, and I'll find out her thoughts on the poetry I've given her to see what I've written in the past. I hope it goes well. If she has any thoughts on improvement, I feel sure I can trust Ray to be kind, but wise with it. This kind of relationship must be one built with trust.