'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, April 26, 2009

The Smallest Things
Always be prepared to be amazed by the smallest things in life. The rewards can enlarge your sense of wonder, and your appreciation of the joy that Nature can bring you.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Personal Poetry Month

My Personal Poetry Month is going great guns, with an average of 1.something poems every day. The quantity is certainly there, and the quality is holding up better than I ever expected.

So for me, April 2009 is certainly my Poetry Month. For anyone who is struggling to find their muse, or who otherwise feels uninspired, why not give it a try? Commit to writing something new every day, don't worry about quality, go for quality.

If you can only get ten percent good poems for bad, it's still more poems than you'd have written if you sat back waiting for that silly muse to deign to visit. Cut out the middle-man, just go without that silly muse!

I've mentioned this idea of mine in a variety of places, and I'd love to here from anyone who decides to give it a go themselves. Leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Poetry Exercise - Joy of Nature

Is there something in nature that creates a sense of wonder or joy in you? Share that with others in a poem. It can be short, or long. Rhyming or not. The poem and your feelings will tell you what, and for how long, to write.

The main task is to try to create the same sense of wonder in someone else. Puppies can do it for me, or watching a horse galloping across a paddock, tail high, ears held forward and alert.

I saw again earlier today the swallows that perch most of the time on the brackets for plant pots on the wall of our carport. They sit there, and usually fly away when we open the front door, just a few metres away.

But sometimes they don't fly away, or one does and the other doesn't. Sometimes there are no swallows there at all, and I feel slightly bereft. When we had the long heatwave here in South Australia back in March, the swallows didn't seem to move at all, they were as motionless as everyone else was, blasted into immobility by the heat.

Everyone, surely has their own thing in Nature that brings them joy. Rain, Rainbows, birds, young animals playing. Pick your own and write your own "Ode to Nature".

I would love to hear about your personal thing.

Post a comment and tell us what works for you.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

April is Poetry Month!

I think it's in the US, but I've decided it's my personal Poetry month too. I am going to write a new poem every day in April. It is the fourth of April today, and I have five new poems so far, plus I have worked on poems I have written previously.

I know I won't write fantastic poems every single day this month, but by April 30, I will have thirty new poems or more, to work with in May.

I am going to take on some study starting in May, so I feel I have to do something or my creativity might get swamped in new, non-fiction type things.

Or, perhaps my creativity will be electro zapped into overdrive, and I may be writing lots and lots of new stuff. Only time will tell. I just know that I am excited about this new phase in my poetry growth, and in my possible career prospects once I have my certificate.

Upward and onward, that's me!

I heartily recommend everyone starts their own personal poetry month. Pen lines, or work on older stuff.

I challenge everyone to make April your biggest poetry month ever, and tell us all about how it's going. We can cheer each other on, and offer tips.

Embrace poetry!