'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!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

"My Passion" Poetry Competition

Well, the poems have been sent in and judged, with the winners announced at the Gawler Poets at the Pub event at the Prince Albert Hotel, Gawler. Two of those receiving a Special Mention were there on the day, to receive their certificates, and to read their poems to those in attendence.

Cheques and certificates for others will be posted out tomorrow. Many thanks to those who entered this annual competition. There will be consideration soon on the possible theme for the next poetry competition, and the entry form and guidelines will be posted to this site later on this year, probably around August.

This is what the Judge had to say about this poetry competition:

Judges Comments

              “My Passion” Poetry competition run by the Adelaide Plains Poets Inc.

General Remarks.

Firstly let me say that I was very honoured to be asked to judge your competition and I undertook the task with a certain amount of apprehension for while I have entered quite a few poetry competitions, I have never judged one before!

That over I'll commence my task. Overall, I was very impressed with the general standard of the entries, especially those of the younger writers which augurs well for the future of poetry writing   in this and the wider community.

I do have some general comments about poetry writing which I hope you won’t mind me passing on as they come from my own experience!

Firstly – try to avoid rhyming, as this can be a trap for the unwary. If you are a very experienced and established writer by all means go for it but its restraints are humungus! It prevents a free flow of emotion and ideas unless in very skilled hands and an inexperienced poet quickly finds that the rhyme dominates their thought processes and feelings which is death to a potential poet, I believe.
Secondly rhyming can turn your poem into something lightweight when you really want a greater impact and at its worst can create what started off as a good idea into doggerel – so all I'm saying is – beware! Poets from all age groups fell into this trap I think and did themselves a disservice in the process.

My next comment is about relevance.  Your competition clearly asks for poems about “My Passion” and a couple of entries made only vague reference (if any ) to this and that didn't help their cause.
Lastly about passion – all poems should have this as part of them, it's what makes them a good poem, I believe and that quality finally is what helped me make my decisions - that and good writing.
What is good writing? That is a subjective view but I think it's writing that makes you think, sit up and feel and it does it by the way words, phrases, lines, imagery are mixed, blended, juxtapositioned and created.

Primary Section.
One poem stood out as winner of this section – 'T – Ball Knight'. Matthew Elkins
The whole poem is a passionate metaphor of knighthood which is sustained throughout the poem by taut line length, economy of words, imagery and internal metaphors and similes. A fantastic piece of writing by a primary school student.
Who would've thought that a passion for T – Ball could produce a literary work of art?

Secondary Section.
This section proved difficult to judge because there were a number of very good entries. Unfortunately some entries disqualified themselves by straying from the topic or not removing typos and spelling errors! Others found the limiting bind of rhyming hampered their efforts. I was finally able to select four poems  deserving of special mention.  They are – 'A Kiss in an Hourglass' Lauren Davidson, I Do NOT Want To Participate' Jemimah Bye, 'My Passion' Meg Eichmann and 'The Whisper of Words' Brynnie Rafe.
They all addressed the topic of Passion in an amazingly diverse way – passion to write, passion for life and ideas, a passion to be true to oneself and romantic, physical passion. They all used imagery,  line length and blank verse poetic structure to great advantage so that the message of their poem is impacted on the reader.

 However there has to be an outright winner for this section and it is, 'A Kiss in an Hourglass' Lauren Davidson.  This poem also carries a metaphor throughout and the writer continues to refer to this imagery throughout what is quite a short poem. This poem intrigues with its deceptive simplicity of structure but depth of sensuality. The poet uses the hourglass image to evoke a sense of time savoured but also lost in an intensity of momentary physical love. I think it is a very mature poem for this age group and the topic is handled sensitively and beautifully. Well done!

Open Section.
I also found this section extremely difficult to whittle down to a short list.  Once again the temptation to rhyme plagued this section too with similar consequences.
However there were a number of excellent entries and I have to make special mention of the following – 'I caught Enthusiasm' Alison Barker, 'Viva Verdi' Shelley Hansen (a rare example of rhyming well handled!), 'all passions spent' Avril Bradley, 'Occasionally' Jan Price, 'Tea Leaves' Darrelle Spenceley, 'My Passion', 'Arrival of the Lost Sketch Book' Anna Jacobson, 'Passionfruit' Bruce Greenhalgh and 'The Quest' (also a well-structured rhyming verse!) Shelley Hansen. Which only goes to show you need to be an experienced poet to rhyme successfully and produce good poetry – it can be done!

 I finally came down to two wonderful but very disparate poems one of which – would you believe rhymes!! They are 'The Quest' Shelley Hansen and 'Arrival of the Lost Sketchbook' Anna Jacobson. I believe they are equal first prize winners in this section.

Firstly 'The Quest'. This poem is very reminiscent of the skill, style and language mastery of the famous English poet Rudyard Kipling. The poet's management of rhyme, metre, metaphor and alliteration creates a propelling rhythm and a passionate philosophical message that races along carrying the reader with it.

 The poem appears deceptively simple in structure but is in fact quite complex. It uses an a,b,c,b rhyming pattern and a terse alternating10 syllable/9 syllable line in each four line stanza in this ten stanza poem. To sustain this throughout the poem while retaining the emotion, narrative and impetus  as well as the reader right in there with you, is a great achievement I think.

''Arrival of the Lost Sketchbook' is quite a different kettle of fish. Where 'The Quest' was fast paced, forthright and propelling this one is the reverse. It is reflective, reminiscent and quiet, yet full of brilliant colour and passionate memory. The poet uses many beautiful descriptive phrases to bring the thoughts of the subject of the poem to life.

The writer portrays in this narrative poem an elderly artist crippled with possibly arthritis who was once a painter of vividly coloured and exhilarating works. She discovers an old sketchbook and her memories of her past skills and achievements come flooding back in the excitement of her long remembered creativity and the rainbow hues she used.


The writer has captured not only the brilliant colours but also the textures and mediums the artist used to work in. The poet give the reader a sustained portrait in which the subject of the poem traces over the pastels and paintings and charcoal drawings captured in the sketchbook  reliving where she was and how she felt at the time she did each piece captured in it. The poem ends as the artist closes the sketchbook, her fingers imbued with the colours she's been tracing. This is a moving poem of talents lost and memories retrieved told in simple but luminous three line stanzas.