'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!

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Poetry Competition - Transitions theme

The competition for 2015/16 is closed to entries now, but that certainly doesn't mean poetry isn't happening where I a! The judge of the competition has the entries now, and is busily reading the entries, and picking his lists of winners. We had a grand entry of exceptionally great poems, and I don't envy the judge Sean Wright his task - so many good poems, which is the best?

Sean will come up with the answers though, and I am so looking forward to hearing who are the winners for this competition. I certainly liked many of these poems, but I didn't try to choose any winners this time - Sean and I are both poets, yes, but we may prefer different poems. Life lived, poetry read, how you feel at the time. All of these can impact of which particular poems you may like.

As the judge, do you look for technical excellence? Or heart, an excellent new idea or style of poetry. These things are all up to the judge of the competition. Our judges, and we've had many over the years of this competition, have been left to make up their own mind, with few instructions, beyond picking first, second and third for each section, and highly commended and commended as the judge sees fit.

The winners won't be made public until the end of March, when they will be announced at the Gawler Poets at the Pub Poetry Reading event on 27 March 2016 at the Prince Albert Hotel in Gawler. I will know who the winners are before then, so I can let the winners know in advance, with the hope they will be able to be there for the announcement, and also so I will have the relevant winners' certificates.

These exciting things are all a part of the fun and thrills of running a poetry competition. The money for this competition is quite reasonable, and the joy of the winners when they accept their prize is always lovely to see. And I particularly love to hear the winning poems read by the winning poets, if this is possible.

I an a sucker for these feel good moments in life, and I intend running this annual and national poetry competition for as long as I can, with my great team of group members from Adelaide Plains Poets! Many thanks to the team, and many thanks to the poets all around Australia who have taken part in this, and other poetry competitions Adelaide Plains Poets have held.

2 comments:

Shelley said...

Hello Carolyn - you pose an interesting question in this post ...

"As the judge, do you look for technical excellence? Or heart, an excellent new idea or style of poetry?"

I am sure judging is as individual as writing, but as judge of your 2015 competition and others, I can only say that it has to be a combination of all the qualities you mention. Innovation will always take a judge's eye, especially in a themed competition where there may be a certain "sameness" about many entries. Something out of left field - perhaps treatment of the subject from a different angle - will capture attention.

Technical excellence is important because winning poetry must be good quality. Heart is not enough - but technical excellence with no heart is pointless.

Above all, and after meeting the necessary criteria, a winning poem must have "wow factor". It is an overused expression perhaps, but in some ways it defines the undefinable ... that certain "something" that makes a poem stand out from the rest.

When a judge finds that, he/she finds the winner!

Congratulations on another successful competition and sincere commendation to you for your hard work and diligence in fostering our craft of Australian poetry.

Cheers
Shelley Hansen

Carolyn Cordon said...

Excellent words from you Shelley, you are certainly well qualified to make these intelligent and interesting comments. I wonder what other people think about this idea? Feel free to leave a comment here.