'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!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

January 2012 will be Poetry Month

This month I've committed to writing one new poem every day. I might be posting rubbish some days, first drafts in need of feedback and more editing, but I will post a new poem!

This was all brought on by reading about Month of Poetry 2012 I've met up with Kathryn Apel, who is organising this poetry jaunt, previously, and I know she is legitimate and devoted to poetry. I'm the same, and I'm proud to be involved in this poetry playtime!

I've done well so far, with my first poem for the month posted to the Month of Poetry website at 10.48 this morning. It may have actually been earlier than that, Kathryn and I have different time zones - she lives in Queensland and I live in South Australia.

So far, I've read some fine poems posted to the website, in quite differing styles. I feel it's going to be lots of fun, and I'm hoping to create some fine words. My first poem was OK, although I may hate it again the next time I read it. Poetry can be like that sometimes.

Anyway, I'm glad I have something to think about on this stinking hot day. I'm not going outside, that's for sure, too, too hot for me!

Talk to you again soon!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Headlines as Poem Starters

Today I read of a woman who threw a puppy over a balcony. The pup is now being cared for by a vet clinic and looks like it will be OK.

I am an avid dog lover, and I'm concerned that someone would do such a terrible thing. Puppies need the love and help of caring owners, and certainly never deserve to be so badly treated. I don't know too much more about this case of animal abuse though, because as well as being a dog lover, I'm also a poet.

As soon as I began reading about this matter, my poet sense kicked in, and I knew I had to write a poem about this poor pup. Sometimes things happen in my life that demand to be written about. I've written the pup's poem now, edited it slightly, and I'll post it here.

I'm sure this isn't one of my best ever poems, but it comes from my heart, and I enjoyed getting the words down. As I was writing the poem, I thought about the issues that woman may be having in her life that lead to the terrible act.

I hope the puppy survives and goes on to live a good life. I also hope the woman finds peace in her own life. Compassion is a thing that isn't 'either this one or that one'. I feel compassion for all involved in this story - the pup, the woman, those saving the pup, the police, the thousands of people who've read about it all.

We can all play our part in making this world a compassionate place for puppies to live.


What went wrong?

The puppy demands, you feel your hands
itching to shut it up.
The dog so young, but its tune is sung
and balcony calls for the pup.

Beyond the ledge and over the edge
that separates good from bad.
Why it was done, is known to none -
the woman must be mad.

At eight months old, pup’s tale is told
across the online world.
But we read of the deed and wonder indeed –
why was the puppy hurled?

Monday, December 26, 2011

What to Write a Poem About?

Do you ever want to write a poem but can't think of anything to write about? I used to feel like that sometimes, but no more. I studied at the Adelaide WEA college a couple of months ago, and I'll know what to write about and what style to write poems in for ever more.

The subject was called 20 ways to write a poem and the lecturer was John Malone, who has a blog here. In this particular blog post, John hasn't written a poem, but as I was reading his post today, I had the sneaking suspicion there was a poem sneaking around, waiting to be written!

In this course, which went for three Saturday mornings, the students listened to John speak, looked at and read the poems on the white board and had lots of fun. We wrote our own poems too, exploring the ideas John taught us.

I was inspired by John's words, and had a great time being involved in the classes. John kindly invited me to read my own work that he knew was relevant to the subject he was teaching. I certainly got the feeling I was learning many things that would/will be useful to me next year.

I have a great desire to hold creative writing workshops next year. I've put out feelers, and hopefully by the time summer is over, I'll be in front of a group of students, teaching them ways to write poems! This idea has been sniffing around me for years, and now that I have my own poetry collection published, and my Tafe certificate finished, I feel ready.

So if you live near Gawler, and you'd like to know more about writing poetry, get in contact, we can have lots of fun together!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Poems from my yard


One of my favourite things to do is to sit down and watch Nature around my back or front yard. I have good spots to sit and watch, ponder and meditate. Sometimes inner peace may come from sitting and watching, sometimes I may just idly watch with nothing deep or meaningful occurring. Sometimes a poem  may come of my time sitting and relaxing, and letting Nature entertain me.

I like short poems more than long poems, and one short form I like to use is the haiku. This short poetic form from Japan is often misunderstood. A good haiku is never an easy thing to write for me, and judging by many of the poems I read over the years, other people have trouble penning good haiku too.

The good thing though is that even if I don't write a good haiku, when I give it a try, at least I'm writing words that will help me remember the time I write of. Sometimes I do write a good haiku though, one where others get the thing that attracted my attention. That shared 'A-ha' moment is a wonderful thing indeed!

Here is one my haiku, or haiku style poems I wrote yesterday. I hope you my words and the haiku poem of interest.



bird and plant share
the same shade of yellow –
back porch view

My Christmas Poem

Christmas means many things to different people. As an atheist who is jaded by the 'Buy Now' consumerism that Christmas has become. I have my own thoughts about Christmas, possibly different than many people have.

I've thought deeply about the whole thing, and last year I wrote this poem to read at a Christmas Poetry Slam/Party. I read the poem (with a couple of changes) again at the same event this year.

The poem may not be much, but it says what I feel about the whole thing.


Merry Whatsit
Pagan rites and rituals
overlain by a holy Christian wash
and God Almighty consumerism rules;
eat and eat and eat
gimme, gimme, gimme! Gluttony
and avarice make for perfect
bedfellows, and that’s what it’s all
about. It’s hard to find space
for that tiny babe of doubtful birth,
but helping people & being nice
have their own rewards.
There’s an inner glow when you shine
your light on others, saint or sinner,
believer or not. And a child’s smile
as she plays with a huge box, empty
of materialistic burdens, makes
some sense of the Christmas myths.


Have a safe and happy time!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Poem idea starters


I've written poems for many, many years. I remember the poem I wrote in high school for Mr Scalzi's History class once. I was supposed to be writing something, not a poem but something else, about some part of Ancient History that began with a 'C'. I can't remember what the town or country was apart from knowing what letter it began with, but it was in Europe, which might as well have been on the moon, it bore so little in common with my own life.

Anyway, I was thinking about the whole thing, or more likely not thinking about it, and I wrote a poem. I liked the poem enough to submit it for my History assignment. My History teacher liked the poem too, and I received a good mark for it. That made me feel good about my abilities, which is always a nice thing to have happen, when you're a teenager. 

This experience didn't make me love History, but it strengthened my love of English. As a good reader, who liked to write poetry, English was always my favourite subject. The point of this slightly rambling explanation is this: Poems can come from most unexpected places.

I hadn't intended writing a poem in that History lesson back in the seventies. I was open to writing a poem though, so when that poem arrived, I was there to capture it. I took that poem home from school and shared it with my mum. She liked the poem too, and she still has a copy of it. I haven't read the poem again, but I still remember what it was. 

The poem was a metaphor for something in my own life. My feelings of not understanding what was required of me to live my life properly came out in that poem. I don't know if anyone else got that out of the poem, but poetry is always open to the interpretation of the reader. 

So now I will reiterate my point - poems can come from unexpected places. Now I am a keen birdwatcher, and I live in rural South Australia, about sixty kilometres north of Adelaide. Because I live where I live, I have lots of birds to watch. One thing that's intrigued me for many years is the behaviour of Welcome Swallows. 

We have a swimming pool, and I often see swallows circle around the pool, then flying in low to touch the pool's water, the off again. I used to think they were taking a drink from the pool, and I didn't think the water would taste very good.

A friend recently said to me that the reason the swallows would be dipping in the pool, would be to get some water to make mud for making nests. I've carried this little snippet around in my head for a month or so, and now, finally it was emerged in a haiku poem.

I've wanted to write about the swallows flying around the pool in this way, and this information, combined with a haiku written by the Japanese master haiku poet, gave me my first successful poem about these lovely little birds. I love haiku poetry, and I'm glad I've finally got a poem about them, and how they connect with my life.

I'm not saying this is a wonderful poem, that's not up to me to say, but I'm happy with it. It captures the moment for me, and when I read it, I can see in my mind, a swallow circling and skimming across the pool surface and up again. I have no idea where the swallows go from my pool, I just know they arrive and fly off again.

This is the poem:


dips in again,
pool water to make mud -
where is swallow’s nest?





Friday, December 9, 2011

Reasons Why I Write

I write most days, it's not always creative writing, some of my writing is posting comments on Facebook or tweets on Twitter, nothing more literary than that. I try to give a piece of myself with my comments though.

Other kinds of writing I do are these:
Poetry, short stories, novel drafts, blogging, journal writing.

I often write a poem when something major has come into my life. I wrote poetry while I was pregnant with my son, 18 years ago. It helped me to think about the approaching new life and the changes to my own life.

I wrote a little about my depression that followed my pregnancy - being a mother was wonderful, but some of the things I was going through were terrible. I suffered post natal depression, undiagnosed and feeling like I was the worst mother ever.

It was a good time, thinking about it now. I was the best mother I could be, and our son has turned into a good person, which shows I was doing at the very least a 'good enough' job. So that was my first major topic to write about, the combined motherhood and depression theme.

Since then, I've explored being a novelist, but have only got as far as several beginnings to novels, and one first draft of a novel. I still think about those unfinished pieces of work occasionally. Poetry has taken on a larger part of my interest though. I love the way a poem can go from first draft to seventh draft and finshed/published all in the space of a week! Novels can take seven years to get to the published stage!

I've also written articles and published them online on sites such as Associated Content, Triond, and others. The one I still use is Twitter, you can find my work here http://www.triond.com/users/Carolyn+Cordon
This is a way to make tiny bits of money - I rarely get much, but I have fun being a part of the Triond community.

Making money isn't my main reason for writing though, making connections is my main reason. I love the fact that I'm part of the poetry community, both in real life and online. I live in a small town in rural South Australia, but I still get to poetry things when I can. I am involved in Gawler Poetry at the Pub, which happens in Gawler at the Prince Albert Hotel on the last Sunday of the month, except for December.

My next writing thing will be about my most recent major life challenge. In February last year I became ill, and was diagnosed with the chronic and uncurable disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS). I wrote about this in articles, thought and poetry, and I continue to be involved in the MS community, both online, and in real life. I'm a member of the MS Society SA & NT, and I'm in a peer group of others diagnosed with MS who live near Gawler. It's a chance to connect with people who understand my health issues, and I enjoy meeting with the others regularly.

So the writing part of my MS journey will be the writing of a memoir. I feel strongly about doing this, but I'm also conscious of my abilities, my health and my body. We have summer happening in my part of the world now, and heat affects me badly, as it does for most people with MS. So I'm going to take it easy through summer, and then get stuck into this memoir idea. I hope to be able to write something worthy of publication, but I'm aware I have a long way to go.

Writing is my therapy, and creative writing, as well as connecting with people, helps me stay sane and positive. Another project I want to explore next year is running creative writing workshops. I have gained a qualification in Community Services Work, and combined with my writing and my life skills, I hope to help others find themselves ways to live a positive life. Giving to others gives back so much, and I am keen to give more!

Feel free to contact me if you'd like to know more!




Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What makes me happy

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Basically if the day is pleasant, not too hot and not too cold, or if the day is too hot but I can stay home inside, where it's nice and cool, then I'm happy.

Most days fit the criteria - if I have to go out on a hot day, well that impacts on how I feel. If I'm going out somewhere good, then I'll still be happy, because the car I'm likely to be driving will have good air conditioning.  So, as you can see, I probably have happy days most of the time.

I also get extra happy if I write a new poem, or work on an existing poem. I am a poet, writing or editing poetry is one of the defining things I do. A day with no poetry in it at all can make me a little bit sad, but days like that are rare. I'm in a writing group and we meet once a week and share our writing. So this morning I edited the new poem I wrote yesterday to read tonight. It was a sad subject in some ways, but it made me happy to be writing/editing a new poem.

I spend lots of time on the internet, and checking my emails. Some of that social media stuff involves my friends, and lots of my friends are also poets. So you should be able to see that it isn't that difficult for me to be happy. Things I like to write about make me happy too.

One of my writing themes is Nature. Looking at Nature makes me happy. I live in country South Australia, with Nature all around where I live. I love sitting on the front or back veranda, looking at the plants, birds, creatures and weather. I've written poems about these things, making me happy.

Does my life bore me? Oh no, I love my life. I have family, friends, Nature, my pets and my plants. I live a fantastically happy life!

Do you live a life that makes you happy?