'Freedom' competition Judge's Report

JUDGE’S REPORT FOR 2017 ADELAIDE PLAINS POETRY COMPETITION – THEME: FREEDOM

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.

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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!

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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!

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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

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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!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Where I Go To Find New Poetry

For the writing of my own poetry, I like to look to Nature for inspiration. I don't always write about Nature, but the trees and clouds and creatures put me in a relaxed way of thinking, and poetry arrives in my head and my fingers type out the words. You could say that Nature is my muse.
I'm involved with the committee who organise Gawler Poets at the Pub. This event is on for the last Sunday of every month except December. The committee was formed after the previous person running the event, Martin Johnson, decided he wanted to follow his musical career.
Martin is now happily busking in Gawler, and doing other things, and the poetry continues on at the Prince Albert Hotel, on Murray Street. The next Poetry Reading event will be on this coming Sunday, starting at 2pm, and continuing until 4pm. It's always a fun and caring afternoon of words and hugs, and I enjoy words!
Another important thing that brings me poetry is the annual Poetry Competition I organise with Adelaide Plains Poets. This competition has been going since 2006, with cash prizes, and certificates for highly commended and commended poems. The prize pool, which was already generous, has been increased for this year, so if you're an Australian poet, why not have a go! 
The entry form and guidelines are available on this blogsite, so read all about it, and send your poems in! I love it at this time of the year, when the postie starts bringing me the new entries for the competition. The theme is The Elements, think about it and let your pen go!

If you'd like to ask anything about this, or about the Gawler Poets at the Pub, ask away, I'm here to tell you what's what!


Monday, September 17, 2012

An Update on My Verse Memoir

Verse Memoir or Memoir in Verse? Which to call it? At this early stage, does it even matter how to classify it?

No, I don't thinks so. Right now, the important thing is to finish the first draft, and then the second draft. After that will be the time to decide how to describe what this collection of words in verse really is.

All I know is that it's fun and exciting when it's going well, and frustrating when in it's not, the same as any other form of writing! I've written poetry, short stories, non-fiction, and I have one completed first draft of a novel. 

This is my writing range over the past whatever years - twenty years perhaps - plus bits and pieces before that. The past three years have been most often poetry, but I'm still playing with short stories now and then...

Some of my most exciting times have been when I sit at the computer and my muse seems to take over my fingers, writing wonderful words in a way that transcends time and limits... There's nothing better than being thrilled with something you've written!


This verse memoir I'm writing is to be launched next year, I hope, and is intended to be aimed at people trying to find ways to live with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). It also will give an idea to other people what living with this chronic illness can bring to those of us diagnosed with MS.

There are many false ideas out there about MS, and MS can be different, from person to person. My piece will be all about how it is for ME, with some thoughts from others where relevant.


Anyway, the word count for my memoir in verse is currently around 13600 words, and I'm more or less happy with how it's going. I have something written for every chapter, and I have a much better idea on what I should be aiming at, thanks to the feedback I've been receiving from my mentor, Ray Tyndale. 

I met Ray Tyndale when I was awarded a grant from the Richard Llewellyn Arts and Disability Foundation. This grant is to pay for my mentor, as well as a smaller amount of money for the writer (me). The relationship is going well - Ray gives me feedback and tells me things, I take in what she says, and work with that. Ray is honest, as she said at the beginning she'd be, and I appreciate her for this.

I've sent a chapter to Ray, and I'll see her tomorrow to find out what she thinks about it...

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I've made it onto You Tube!

I was interviewed recently by a uni student, and he sent me the link to the interview, which he'd put onto You Tube. I've had a quick look, and apart from the facts that I feel funny listening to myself talk, and that my hair is it's usual mess, I'm thrilled with the result.

If you'd like to see it, and listen to me talking about my poetry things, I've put a link to the You Tube page on my 'damaged children, Precious Gems' blog - go here!

I was impressed by the students who descended on the Mallala Hotel the other day to do this interview. They were polite, respectful and professional. Well done to Zac Benn and your team! The three of them are studying Film and Television, and if they're an example of the quality of students doing this course, I'm impressed.