'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!

Friday, December 4, 2015

When Poetry Takes Over

These past few months seem to be becoming more and more poetic, and I'm excited about it all. My excitement is shaded a little by sadness, but more about that later. Why has poetry been happening more? I'll tell you all about it.

I've involved in a group - Adelaide Plains Poets. I'm the President of this group, and have been since the group began, back in 2004. The stated role of the group, according to our constitution is to further the interest in poetry of those living in the Adelaide Plains. The group has certainly been involved in doing that, off and on ever since.

Over the years members have come and gone, moving away, getting a job, losing interest, having other things take precedence and so on. Fortunately, I've been able to maintain, or in fact increase, my passion for poetry. At the moment, as well as being the President of Adelaide Plains Poets, I am also a member of the writing group - North Eastern Writers Inc, I am one of two co-coordinator of the poetry reading group Gawler Poets at the Pub which meets once a month.

I have also just finished  presenting four workshop sessions about poetry as part of a Pathways to Success program. Adelaide Plains Poets has run an annual national poetry competition since the beginning, and entries are coming to me in the mail most days now because I am the competition secretary as well as President. On a more personal note, I have also recently submitted a poetry collection to a publisher, which was accepted and will be published next year.

Prose is there in my life too. The Adelaide Plains Poets has a splinter group that meets once a week at the same hotel the Gawler Poets at the Pub event is held - P/A Hotel (Prince Albert) in Gawler. This writing group held its first Festival in the middle of the year - Gawler Festival of Words. This Festival was a success will be held every year now. We are already busy planning the Gawler Festival of Words for 2016.

I am also the Editor of the Mallala Crossroad Chronicle, which comes out once a month. This newsletter for people living in the town of Mallala is a spot where I can sometimes publish a poem if I wish to. I don't do this too often, but every now and then it seems relevant to other things published in the Chronicle, so I do.

So it's a busy life for me, but an enjoyable and satisfying one. Writing is my major love, and I am glad to be able to have lots of writing in my life. This is probably a part of the reason why I love another of my roles in life at the moment, that of Writer in Residence at the Poetic Justice Cafe and Gallery. I attend the cafe twice a week, to sit and chat with people, talking about whatever people want to talk about, life, writing, art, food. It's a lovely friendly place, and I am very much enjoying being there.

I will be running some poetry events in the cafe soon, poetry readings outside of the cafe where there are tables and chairs, that would be great for some poetry.

That's it for now, I'm loving my life!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Whether the Weather be Good ...

Surely the poet with access to the outdoors will never be lacking in topics to write about. Personally, I certainly find much poetic inspiration in what Nature gives, from the soft and fluffy clouds making fantastical shapes in the sky, to the angry lashing rains and storms that excite and revitalise the venturesome spirit! Lightning strikes, and the mind springs to life.

The transitions of the seasons bring interest too. At the moment, our relatively new mandarin tree is doing interesting things. There were the lovely flowers, and today, when I inspected the little tree in the morning, I noticed there are fewer petals on the tree, and where flowers had been there are now tiny little green blobs. I'm hoping and assuming these little blobs will become fruit. Super fresh mandarins plucked from the tree seems like a wonderful thing as the current Spring transitions into Summer!

If you've never thought about the weather as a topic to write poetry about, perhaps today is the day to start?! From a pithy little 3 line haiku, to a heartfelt 14 line sonnet and beyond, Weather can be a fine topic to consider when you next want to write a poem! I've written many haiku about the things I see outside, some of them fine, some just of interest to me perhaps, but either way, still worth writing.

That's another important thing to remember when writing poetry - not every first attempt should be expected to be perfect. We creative writing people can be so unkind to ourselves at times. Do violin players berate themselves for every off note played, and vow to give up the violin? Or do they keep on with the practice and get better and better? Of course they keep on with it, the good ones do, anyway.

Aspire to become a poetic maestro, and write and write and write!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Competition Closed!

Many thanks to all of the lovely poets who visited this site and entered the 2014/2015 poetry Competition on the theme of 'Climate'. There have been some interesting interpretations of the theme, and I am excited when I think about which poems and poets will be chosen by the judge.

The winners will be announced at the March Gawler Poets at the Pub event, which will take place on 29 March at the P/A Hotel (Prince Albert Hotel) in Gawler. I hope the winning poets can be there and read their own winning poems, and collect their prize, and I hope many others will be there to find out what the judge thought of the competition, and the competition entries received.

This competition received a reasonable number of entries - not the most ever, but certainly not the least ever, either. The theme obviously appealed to some poets, judging by their well thought out and passionate entries. I hope they can maintain that passion whenever they think on the theme, and do their bit to further the cause of assisting in slowing climate change.

The winning names and at least some of the winning entries will be posted on this blog after the winners have been announced. I hope many of you come back after the end of March to see who won and with which poem, and what the Judge thought too.

Many thanks to poets all around Australia, you're all wonderful!