'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!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

New Writing Group in Gawler

Writing groups come and go - some are good, some bad. And some people do well in groups while others are better off working alone.

The new group in Gawler, it is hoped, will be a good one. The initial feeling is that it is a friendly and supportive group, dealing with both poetry and prose. The group meets weekly, at a popular pub in Gawler, the Prince Albert Hotel.

It's only a small group so far, but hopefully more people will be joining soon. The meetings start at 3.30pm, and go for several hours. The coffee is good, and there's good food available too, so group members can get there for the words and have a main meal later on.

The group is an initiative of Adelaide Plains Poets, branching out into prose as well as the poetry that started the whole thing going. Short stories, plays, movies, novels, who know where we may end up?

The new group is called Adelaide Plains Chapter & Verse, and it has its own Facebook page, and blog here.

As long as we all write the words down and share them, it's all good. Have you ever been in a writing group? What were the good things about it? And what were the bad (if there were any bad things...).

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Dark Side DownUnder: Magic Thursday: Romancing Words

Dark Side DownUnder: Magic Thursday: Romancing Words

I've just finished reading a blog post about a woman who found her way back to poetry, and unblocked herself so she could write more and write better! Poetry doesn't have to be hard work, poetry can be mind-blowingly good fun!

Click on the link, and read Lilliana's great ideas. If you're trying to get into poetry, you'll be so glad you did!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

No, Poetry Is NOT Dying!

Probably every day, every week, every month and every year, someone say the written word is dying, dead, not loved, on the way out, But I don't believe that, and if you're reading these words, you probably don't believe that either.

I've just read an interesting article by South Australian poet and neuroscientist, Ian Gibbins. He's written a broad ranging run down on what's happening in Poetry in Australia at the moment. If you interested in knowing more, follow this link and all with be revealed.

In the meantime, a less measured look at it from where I sit, out on the Adelaide Plains, 60kms from Adelaide. I'm the President of the the Adelaide Plains Poets inc, a group that has varied in size and responsibilities over the 7 years it's been in existence. One thing has remained constant - APPI started with a national Poetry Competition, and there's been one national poetry competition ever since.

The competition is open to adults as well as secondary and primary schools students. The cost for adults to enter is $5 for each poem entered, and there is no cost for the students. This was a deliberate thing, the competition secretary is keen to have young people learn the delights you can get from sharing your poetry with others. The cost has stayed the same, as other costs rise. APPI wants to remain open to all kinds of people, even or especially to those for whom a larger fee may be difficult to find.

The winners have been a broad range of people, men, women, boys and girls - some first time entrants, some well practised and widely published poets. The one thing that has remained the same is the wonderfully creative ways poets have responded to the theme for the competition.

The themes for the Adelaide Plains Poets Inc Poetry Competition have covered a variety of things, from the first theme 'Birds of the Adelaide Plains' to the last (and current) theme 'The Elements', and the others in between. The competition secretary marvels at the delightful ways the poets meet the theme in their own way. The themes have been chosen deliberately to allow for broad choices in how the theme is met, and apart from a few occasions, this has led to quite different poems received each year.

If you're interested in trying out your poetry skills, why not give it a go - only $5 per poem and you could be up for winning good money! Even the students prizes are monetary, and as I, as a mother know, children are totally clued up on the benefits of cash in hand!

The entry form and guidelines are on this site, so cut and paste, then get writing about The Elements!

Going on from poetry competitions, there's poetry readings. These can happen in writing group meetings, in classrooms, workshops, halls and hotels. The Poetry reading I attended most recently is the SA Poetry Slam Final. This was an exciting night at Upper Ground Light Square in Adelaide, and had the ten winners from the heats which took place in libraries around Adelaide and beyond.

The atmosphere was electric and the entrants were truly amazing. The audience was spellbound by the performances of the competing poets, in a competition where any of them could have been the winner! Young and old, and all ages in between these ten people were there to share their words and win the prize! And what was that prize? All expenses paid trip to Sydney to compete with the winners of the Poetry Slam competitions held around Australia, good stuff!

So, from my knowledge of what's happening around the country, Poetry is certainly not dying. I'm involved in a new group, Chapter and Verse, meeting weekly in Gawler, and even though the reason for starting the group, was to go further with writing, that doesn't mean poetry isn't also a part of the things going on. The meetings are held at the Prince Albert Hotel in Gawler, where there have been Poetry Readings held once a month for some years. The numbers are increasing monthly, and the interest has grown.

I can honestly say, from where I'm looking, the future of Poetry is looks like it's alive and kicking arse!