'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, January 27, 2013

First Gawler Poets at the Pub for Year

Well, yesterday it was all on! Gawler Poets at the Pub started off with the much loved five word poetry competition and then leaped right into a jingoistic poetry performance from the much love Martin Christmas! Who'd have thought Australia Day celebrations could look like that!

Great work Martin, I love the way you've taken on poetry and shaken it up and swished it with theatrical dust! Well done. I was pleased to be there on the day, assisting in a tiny way to help this performance come to life in front of us at the Prince Albert Hotel!

I think your performance added a little extra to everyone's performances on the day. It wasn't the biggest number of people we've ever had, but all of the people reading their poetry did a fine job with it. It was great to see a new person come along to see what it's all about. I hope she'll be back with us again, maybe reading her own poetry...

And it was lovely to catch up with Colleen Sweeney, one of my dearest poetic friends. It's been a long time but I'm so glad to have you there with us all!

Thanks to everyone who helped make it a great day, and I look forward to seeing you all again next month. Same place, but different time.

Martin Johnson is holding a Fringe event 40ks Out of Gawler. His show starts at our usual time, 2 pm, we're starting two hours earlier - 12 pm, and we'll finish up just before Martin Johnson starts. So if you want to take part in both events, you can! Just let the hotel know beforehand 85221865

I hope to see all of my poet friends there on the day!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The poetry competition closes, another competition starts!

Well today I handed the entries received for our 'The Elements' poetry competition to the judge. I hope they poems meet her approval, and she finds winners in there!

I very much enjoyed reading all of the poems entered, and I'm looking forward to learning which of the poems the judge preferred. The winners of this national competition will be announced at the Gawler Poets at the Pub event in March, that is, at the Gawler Prince Albert Hotel, from 2 pm, on Sunday 31st of March.

There's been an added boost to the prize money, from sponsors, so the prizes are even more bountiful than in the past. Many thanks to Tom and Maxine Varcoe of the 5th Element Unearthed Olive Oil. So if you entered this competition, you will find out what the results are in late March. Those who gave me their email address, or who sent an stamped envelope will be sent the results.

The next exciting thing for the Adelaide Plains Poets, is the short story competition. This is a first for Adelaide Plains Poets, and it comes about because there has been a new group formed, within, or in addition to, the poetry. We now look at longer pieces of writing, and include prose, both fiction and non fiction. This new group is called 'Adelaide Plains Chapter and Verse'.

Members of this group meet weekly at the Prince Albert Hotel in Gawler, on every Thursday, starting at 3.30 and continuing into the afternoon and evening. Sometimes dinner happens, but always writing and talking of writing happens! If you're interested in joining this group, leave a message here!

The group is holding a short story competition - the theme is 'Fairy Tales Twisted Sideways' there is a maximum limit of 2000 words, and entries close on 30 June 2013. Send an email to jeebers@aussiebb.com.au and entry form and guidelines will be sent.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Year Just Gone

2012 had many, many good and great moments. On thinking about those moments, I can honestly say that most of them involved poetry or poets. I had many amazing Sunday afternoons at the Gawler Poets at the Pub Poetry Readings. The group of poets who come regularly to this event are wonderful, and I'm thrilled to be involved in running this event.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself when I was doing my Community Foodie work, helping Primary School students discover the delights of vegetables, and teaching them about poetry, using vegetables as prompts for their writing. Lots of fun, and it was great to be able to combine my love of teaching creative writing to others, and also helping others make better choices about healthy eating. Vegetable Victory is a triumph of Poetic Vegetables! Vegetable Victory

Other fine moments have been when I've written a new poem, and felt blessed to have been able to pen the words. This happens far more often when I'm writing often, not surprisingly. The more one writes, the more one writes well. I think they go together. 

I don't ever 'Wait for my muse'. Instead I get down there and write, and if I'm lucky, my muse drops by for a visit. I don't think the muse is interested in me if I'm not trying to write well. Do you agree with me on this?

I'd love to read what you think about this idea, please leave a comment.