'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, March 31, 2012

Gawler Poets at the Pub

A poet sent me a txt message this morning, asking about the results of the Adelaide Plains Poetry competition results. I sent a message letting her know the results are on this blog here, I hope you can get here Chris!

She also asked about the Gawler Poets at the Pub, what dates they're on. I included that info in the txt message, so I'm  hoping she'll come to join us. That reminded me though that I haven't written much about Gawler Poets at the Pub here. I should have, just never got around to it, or perhaps did ages ago and have forgotten.

It doesn't matter which, I'm writing about it now. Gawler Poets at the Pub is on the last Sunday of the month, in the Prince Albert Hotel, starting at 2pm. We have a core group of people who almost always come along, and extras who show up when they can. The event is put on by a committee, of which I am a member, and I find it to be the friendliest little poetry reading around!

This was taken on in 2010 by the committee when long time organiser Martin Johnson stepped back after running it in various pubs in Gawler for fifteen years. Martin did a mighty fine job, and I believe the committee is  doing a good job too!

Those who want to read their work are asked to write down their name in the book and put a gold coin donation in the tin. Then they have their time to read their work, to be appreciated by the attentive audience. If the reader hands in their poems read as requested, they'll have the chance to be considered for the anthology which is put together annually.

This is all going well, and we've had some fine guest poets to entertain us, and are always open to requests from poets for the guest position if they have a new collection or any other exciting poetic happening. So if you like or love poetry and you can get to Gawler on the last Sunday of the month, come and join in!

There is a Facebook page for Gawler Poets at the Pub, you'll find it here http://www.facebook.com/groups/GawlerPoetryReadings/

The committee is made up of Helen Lindstrom, Gary McCrae, Sharon Kernot and me, Carolyn Cordon.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Create Your Own Poetic Form

I've written about this before, and have a link to my form here. It was quite a few years ago that I came up with the 'Cordonostic' form of poem. I fell in love with it at the time, but then got over that love. 

Counting syllables appealed to me at the time, I think, because I'd been working with Primary School students and the counting seemed like a good way to get them into putting short lines down on the page. It also works well at making sure the youngsters learn to end the line and go to the next one, and not fill every single bit of the line before starting the next one.

Now though, I'm not working with young students, and I'm writing more more free verse, or traditional forms of poetry. I might take another look at the Cordonostic poem soon though. I've been enjoying some of the Japanese forms - haiku and tanka in particular.

With it's strict syllable count, the Cordonostic poem has some similarity with the way haiku is seen by Westerners who haven't delved deeper than the 5-7-5 syllable count when writing haiku in English. That kind of haiku isn't held up high for many English speaking haiku poets, for good reason. There has been much written about these points elsewhere, including here. This interesting article talks of the reasons why the 5-7-5 syllable count doesn't actually give you what the Japanese form does. Check it out if you'd like to know more.

If you read the article in the link of the first line here, you'll read about my own new form of poetry. What I challenge my readers to do is to come up with their own poetic form. I love playing with these kinds of things. Getting the correct number of beats in a line, or getting the right words in the right place, can be loads of fun, sort of like mathematics for the number dummy (which I most certainly am!).

I see this king of poetry writing as a way to keep my brain ticking over, and so warding off dementia or other brain issues. If you've been doing crossword puzzles or sudoku puzzles to keep you brain going, why not give creating a new poetry form a go?
Or if that's too much to try, you could always have a look at my Cordonostic poetry style, and write one of those. I'd love to read it if you do!

Monday, March 12, 2012

To Rhyme Or Not To Rhyme?

That certainly is the question so many poets toy with when they first begin to write poetry. They have the words inside that want to come out, but they're not sure of the best way to go with their words.

Many poets, including well published ones, tend to write rhyming poetry, other well published poets may never write rhyming poetry. So, as a new poet, which way should you go? The question can tie your head up in knots, so you never get any poetic words on the page at all.

The answer though is simple. Write the words down first, play with them until they shimmer and shine and can bring to the mind of the reader of your poem what you want to show them. This can be an image that struck you, a person you know, an experience you wish to share and a million other things. Then give your words to the world and let others tell you whether they can see what you wanted to show them.

You can do this in a strict poetic form, such as a sonnet or villanelle, or you can do it with the free-est free verse ever. The important thing is to get the words down and polish them until they do their work.

If you end up writing free verse, be prepared to listen to the doubters, who will never agree to free verse being poetry, rather than cut short prose. These people are wrong. That's all there is to it, they are wrong. Poetry is not prose. In prose, the words are put down on the page, one after another until you run out of room for that line and start the next. With poetry, you carefully consider where the line best ends, which word goes best with which other word, and how the whole thing looks, and feels on the page.

There have been many fine writers who have written further on this subject. I'm not going to write much more, except to say this - for me, the poem tells me whether it will be a rhyming poem, or free verse. The poem knows.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Anyone For Cricket?

I received a lovely little book in the mail yesterday. It was a book of poems, all about cricket! If you think cricket's boring, then you'd have to take that back, because the poems in this collection are terrific.

The poems are the best poems from the 2011 Cricket Poetry Award, and there is a great variety of poetic styles. It was the third year of the competition. Entry is open to poets from cricketing nations around the world, with the award worth $2000!

If anyone's interested in knowing more about this, go here - you'll find everything you need to know on the site. The whole thing is a fascinating melding of sport and art, with a painting competition being held annually as well.

So, if you like your cricket with class, shy not have a go at writing your own cricket poem. there is so much passion about this amazing game, it's sure to attract some fantastic entries again this year - and your poem can be one of them.

I'm already thinking about my own poem. My poem, when I write it, will be some kind of remembrance of my older brother, Jeff West, a keen cricketer at the Gaza Sports Club, and a fine club member. Left hand spin was one of his things...

Come on Aussies!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Poetry competition winners

I'm the only person in the entire world who knows the names of the winners from the Adelaide Plains Poets Inc poetry competition. The judge has chosen the poems, but doesn't know the names of the winners. I know, and I'm not telling!

I'm not here to brag about knowing something no-one else knows (well, only a bit), I'm here to beef up a bit of interest in poetry, particularly amongst students. The love for poetry waxes and wanes over the years, and I fear at the moment it may be waning.

There aren't enough teachers out there with a big enough love of poetry to help their students to learn to love poetry too. I've played a small role in fostering a love of poetry in others, with my involvement with the Adelaide Plains Poets poetry competition. I've been the President and competition of APPI since the group began in 2005.

The entries for the competition have come from all across Australia, and the numbers of entries were rising every year, until a health issue I have, slowed my efforts in 2010/2011, when very few entries were received, because people just didn't know about the competition.

This financial year my health has been better, or at least I'm dealing with it better, and we received a strong entry again for 2012. The quality of the winners is impressive, and the judge very much enjoyed judging the entries this year, as have other judges in other years.

The winners of the competition will be announced at the next Gawler Poets at the Pub on 25th of March, 2pm at the Prince Albert Hotel. The prizes for this competition are good, with a prize pool of at least $500 available for winning poets. The details of the next competition will be announced on this blog, in writers centres around Australia, and in other places where poetry is loved and spoken of.

There's a Facebook page for Gawler Poetry Readings, and there will be details there too. Go there and read all about the fun and games with Poetry in Gawler!

Details for the next annual competition will be announced here when they come out, and in the meantime, take a look around the blog, and get involved in talking about poetry! After the winners are officially announced in Gawler, they will be published here, and the judges' speech will be published here too.

The speeches from some of the earlier judges are published on this blog, search for them and you can read about what they thought. If you'd like to know more about any of this, feel free to contact me, my details are on the home page here.
Carolyn Cordon, President and competition secretary Adelaide Plains Poets Inc