'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!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

"Elements" Poetry competition results

Adelaide Plains Poetry Competition, 2012/13

This was a pleasurable competition to judge, and most entrants had tried really hard to address the theme of The Elements.  Some poets, especially young poets, came at the subject matter quite tangentially and maybe there were some misconceptions about what the elements describe, but most made a very good attempt at least to involve some reference to Earth Fire Air or Water, including a large number of bushfire poems.  Only one poet utilized the Table of Elements, but more of that later.

There were eight entries at Primary level, but The Australian Way (Emily Zdanowicz) stood out, a poem about life on the land.  Good rhyme and rhythm and telling a popular narrative of drought and bush spirit:  First Prize.  The Second placegetter, A New Dawn (Brynnie Rafe) is a competent attempt at free verse, with good rhythm; a bit over-dramatic  -  more “opera” than “musical!”  Summer Heat (Elizabeth Harley) was Commended.

There were only two entries at Secondary level, neither particularly polished, but to be encouraged with Commended certificates: Jane Zdanowicz and Ashleigh Mounsen.

65 entries into the adult open section led to a shortlist of about a dozen.  An overemphasis on rhyme, sometimes extremely clich├ęd and often at the expense of rhythm and interest, let some poets down. It struck me that many poets in this open section had probably not read aloud to themselves their own poems.  If you are going to pick up mistakes in rhythm you can only do it aloud to yourself  -  and not a mutter: you really need to declaim your poems to hear if they work.

The shortlist was full of interest.  Some poems were a bit laboured, as if the writers had found the theme quite difficult to address adequately.  Some concrete poems were clever, one marred only by an unfortunate last line.

I commended Aftermath (David Campbell) as one of the better bushfire poems, of which there were many.  The judge lived through the Ash Wednesday bushfires on the farm in the Adelaide Hills and has not been able to write poetry about that day and its aftermath.  David has managed to catch the ongoing psychological damage well.  Practised and poignant bush poetry.

Highly Commended to Sonnet to the Wind (Shelley Hanson) and Liquid Sculptures (Anna Jacobson), this latter an effective concrete poem, looking good on the page as well as pleasing to the ear.

I was never in any doubt about the winning poets, my only problem was choosing a single first prize winner.  Such a brilliant light touch from Judy Ferguson with Earth Air Fire Water.  Outstanding in its simplicity, everything pared down to only the essence.  The poem about Marie Curie, Lady of the Elements, (Shelley Hanson) was so good and a really clever take on the theme.  A good narrative poem, good rhyme and rhythm, good storyline, neat stanzas, the whole poem all of a piece.  Good work.  These two poets were so far ahead of the field that a shared first prize was the only option.

Thank you for allowing me to share your work.  It is great to see Australian poets working hard at this artform.  Well done everybody and never give up!

Dr Ray Tyndale

I've done it before, I can do it again

I was at the Gawler Poetry Reading yesterday, and one of the poets mentioned the task of writing a poem every day, for all of April. I'd read about that on Facebook previously, and had said that I'd give it a go. 

Yesterday at the Reading, it still deemed like a thing I could easily do. Now though, now that April has actually begun I'm wondering . . . I have actually committed to writing a new poem every day in a month. That was January back in 2011, I think.

That challenge went well enough - I actually ended up writing more than one poem every day. Some of the poems were actually not bad, too, if I do say so myself. Life seems more crowded somehow now though, and I'm wondering - can I really do this?

I suspect that if I quit wondering and start writing, I can meet this challenge. Is anyone else interested in facing this challenge? I know my dear friend Nigel has said he'll do it. Who else is game enough to do it?

I've written my poem for the 1st of April, and I've posted it, and will post all of the other poems I write for April, here

Thursday, March 14, 2013

UFOs and Poetry

A friend of mine has given me a bit of a challenge, in response to a comment I left on his blog. The friend is John Malone, an Adelaide poet and writer. I'd written about an experience that happened many, years ago, when I was a teenager.

This is how I described it on John's blog: 
'Re the other subject, I’ve certainly seen a UFO. It was way back when I was a teenager. My brothers and their mates and I were hanging around on our front lawn after school one afternoon, when one of us saw something. It was a light off to the south-east, just above the height of the hills. It moved steadily along, then disappeared. It could have been a helicopter, but certainly not a plane. We never heard anything about any other sightings of it, and I think we just wrote it off as ‘one of those weird things that happen’.
When you’re young there are lots of weird things that just happen. You don’t have to do anything about them, they just happen. Then the next day school happens again, and you forget about it. This UFO, while ignored for the most part, has never been forgotten, not by me anyway. I hold onto it as something slightly mysterious but harmless, that happened. A slightly interesting thing…'
I can still remember this incident, even though it was such a long time ago. The challenge, if that's what it was (it may have just been an idle comment), was to write a poem about this incident - John indicated he'd be interested in seeing the resulting poem.
So, I'm thinking about it. I've certainly written poems about all kinds of things. I recently wrote 15 poems in response to prompts from a publisher, Slush Pile, and when I looked at the list, I wondered if I could perform the task. This was a project of the Slush Pile editor, Matt Potter, and one he hoped would turn out well.
Matt contacted five poets he knew through his work with Slush Pile, and asked them to take part in the project. This project certainly worked, and there is now a fine book, 'Versus' as a result. The poets all took the prompts off in quite different directions, and in a manner of different poetic styles. 
So I feel I've proven my ability to write poems about a range of topics... I just need to get my head into the right space and time, and write that poem!
Will this become my first ever Science Fiction poem? Only time can tell ...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Answer to the question "What Do You Do?"

In my past this question has been an easy one to answer. When I got my first job, after leaving school, I could proudly say - 'I work at the Australian Taxation Office.' 

I stuck with that organisation until my son was in my tummy, getting ready to enter the world and our lives. Then I could proudly say - 'I'm a mother, glad to be one!'

After that, it's been a little messier. I'm still a proud mother, as well as wife to young Jake's dad. These two jobs will be with me until I die, and I'm thrilled with that situation. I've had some part time and casual jobs since Jake started school, none of which felt like things I could happily spend many years working at. Then a chronic illness arrived, and I moved into the world of living with a disability. My illness, multiple sclerosis has been an interesting learning curve, and I've spent three years getting used to it all, until I will now say, when and if asked, 'I'm on the disability support pension.'

The whole time I've been doing these things, from ATO officer to pensioner, I've been writing. Sometimes I've written short stories, sometimes poetry. I've begun and abandoned several first drafts of novels. It is only in the past few years, though, that I've happily said out loud, when asked what I do, 'I am a writer and poet.'

I've had short stories and poetry awarded and published. I am a writer and poet. I was a writer and poet well before I ever had anything published or awarded. It's taken me a long time to feel I could call myself those two things, even though that's what I've legitimately been for at least thirty years. I write, so I'm a writer. I write poetry, so I'm a poet. 

It seems I'm not the only shy one, sitting at my desk and scribbling or tapping away, hiding from the truth of what I am, a writer and poet. How about your? Do you hide from or cringe away from the fact that you're a writer and/or poet? Face the fact, if your write prose and/or poetry, you are a writer and/or poet. Stand up tall, and take on the terms. Be proud to say clearly and proudly, 'I am a writer!' or 'I am a poet!'

So what about it, are you willing to tell everyone? Please let us know, we're all part of the same game, playing with words and giving them meaning!