'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, January 29, 2016

Competition is now closed.

The Adelaide Plains Poets poetry competition, with the theme of 'Transitions' is now closed, so the entry form and guidelines have been removed from this blog. The only new entries accepted now will be the ones that arrive in the post next week, postmarked by today (Friday 29 January), or are given to me on Sunday. So if you missed the post today, you'd better get to the Prince Albert Hotel in Gawler at 2 - 4 pm Sunday 31 January.

This has been our most successful competition in the more that ten years we have been holding an annual competition. The theme seems to have appealed to a large number of poets, and the quality of the entries is high indeed. Several of the poems have touched on the theme of fires, and have been considered for an anthology planned for later this year. Any profits from sales of copies of the anthology will go to assist those who have been badly affected by the Pinery fires.

It's going to be difficult to come up with another theme that works as well as the Transitions theme, that fired up the imaginations of poets all around Australia. It's been great too, to see entries coming from local people I don't already know, and I hope to catch up with some of these poets in the year to come!

As the Competition Secretary, I get the enviable opportunity to read all of the entries, but I don't have the difficult task of having to choose the winners, The joy without the angst, it's a terrific job, that's for sure!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Closing Date is Getting Closer!

Yes, the closing date for the current Adelaide Plains Poets is January 29, just a couple of weeks away. Don't leave it until the last minute, and lose out, get your entry in soon. The postie is still bringing me some lovely entries, but who know which the judge may choose.

If you love writing poetry, but you've never entered a poetry competition before, why not make 2016 the year you start putting your work out there, and try your talents against poets from all around Australia. I made some writing related resolutions at News Eve, and the commitment has excited me and I'm loving the new things I'm writing now!

So the theme for this competition is Transitions, and wow, the responses to the theme have been interesting, that's for sure. Our group likes to have themes for our competitions that can bring in a wide range of ideas about where a poet can go. This is good for the judge to read, and think about, and it's great for me too, because I'm the person who gets to read the entries first!

Reading poetry is a great way to spend a quiet morning, seeing what other poets around our country are thinking, and writing poetry about. Good stuff for sure. I've already begun thinking about the next competition, regarding the possible theme, about the closing date (change the time of year maybe?), and about ideas for encouraging more entries, in particular the student entries.

If poetry is going to keep on growing in Australia, it's important that we can get children interested in bot writing it and reading it. And regarding reading poetry, I'm not just talking about the dead white guys we all started on at school, all those years ago. There are lots of poets who visit schools, and I'm glad about this, and hope it continues.

The joy on the faces of young people when they write a poem, and share it with their class is beautiful! Do you have any thoughts on any of this? I'd love to hear from you it you do ...