'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!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Next Writing Project

I've mentioned my next project on this blog before. Now, though it's almost time for me to get even more serious about it. I now have a first draft done, time to look at it, tweak it and polish it!

This writing project is one I'm passionate about. My next book will be the book I wanted and needed in early 2010. In February of that year, I had a collapse and was diagnosed with a chronic illness, one I didn't know much about.

That chronic illness is one which has a variety of symptoms, and has no cure, only treatments that may or may not work for each different person. The chronic illness isn't one which will kill me, but until the medical world comes up with a cure, it will be with me until the cure for all arrives.

The chronic illness I'm talking about it Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS affects different people differently, depending on where in the affected person's central nervous system scarring of the myelin (insulating sheaths surrounding the nerves) occurs. This scarring (sclerosis) slows down or stops the nerves from passing the messages from the brain to the body.

The consequence of this can be weakness, pain, tingling, cold, heat - a range of things. It may affect the hands, feet, arms, legs, bowel, bladder, all kinds of parts of the body. I'm one of the lucky ones, I have no pain from my MS, except when my weakness or lack of balance causes me to fall over - then I can sure feel the pain! Trips and falls are common in people with MS.

Anyway, I'm going to write a memoir detailing the things I now know about living with MS. The good, the bad and the ugly, it will all be in my memoir. And just to make it even more interesting for me to write, I't going to be written in verse! I'm a poet and this challenge sure has me excited! It's almost all in verse, with some poems about various issues relating to my life with MS, and with some prose, where I have information about the medicines that can sometimes help.

I have a mentor helping me with writing this verse memoir - Ray Tyndale, a fine South Australian poet and verse novelist. Ray has been trying to get me on track with the difficulties in writing a narrative in verse, and she thinks I may finally have it! So, now the hard work begins. Fixing up the part I've written that wasn't on track, filling in the many gaps that will appear/have already appeared. I'm getting over Christmas and in a couple of days, it's time to get stuck into it!

I now know many people who have MS, and I really hope my memoir will help both them and their families and friends to better understand what living with MS is really like. This, I hope, will lead to better understanding of the issues and challenges people living with MS have. It's not a life I would have chosen for myself, but it's certainly not the worst thing in the world.

I have two walking sticks and a walker, I have family and friends who love me, and I have a positive attitude to life. I'm walking bravely forward, looking forward to what will come next!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Vegetable Victory Strikes Again!

The final session of Vegetable Victory, presented to Primary Schools students, is finished. Vegetable Victory is part of the Community Foodies program run by Lower North Health. the program tells students all about vegetables and why they're great to eat. 

The program is in 4 sessions, and covers numeracy, literacy and Social Studies. The students learn about more than just vegetables. They're given to opportunity to try vegetables in ways they may not have encountered them before. And they're also told about poetry, and encouraged to try their hand and mind at writing poems about vegetables.

By the end of the program, the students will have thought about, learned about, written about, sniffed, seen, listened to and felt vegetables! They will have written at least one poem, and learned lots about how to write poetry, as well as listening to a published poet read their own poems and other poet's poems about vegetables. It's all good fun!

Carolyn Cordon is a Community Foodie, a published poet, and she is the creator of 'Vegetable Victory'. The program has taken place in two Primary Schools so far, and Carolyn hopes to present the program in more schools next year.

Every student should be given the chance to learn to love vegetables! 

Please contact Carolyn if you would like to see this program in your own school! 0418 806 490