Judges' Report on the 2009 Winners
5-7 Years – Judge: Jenny Sharp
Teacher Jenny Sharp is the author of several children's books. She also writes regular columns: reading tips for parents on Cherububble.com, and articles on writing for Writing4successclub.com. Jenny reviews books for Buzz Words and PIO children's online magazines as well as fo the Queensland Writer's Centre and Allen & Unwin Book Publishers.
1st Place: I am Socks by Amy Murray
All children (and adults!) can relate to smelly socks. This poem has original presentation - the poem is written through the eyes of the socks. The reader can identify with what the socks are feeling with the language used eg. “ouch, plop, ouch..." This can be easily visualised in the mind. The reader can also feel the socks’ pride in being nice and clean but the reader can also feel the impact of the socks’ grief when they see the girl with smelly feet coming toward them now they are dry. The reader can almost hear the socks gulp! It has good structure - a beginning, middle and end.
2nd Place: My Cat Says Lots of Things by Breanna Gow
All children wonder about the ways of the world and what they can do to change things. Young children love to play with words and the more humorous something is the better. Children enjoy taking something that is real, such as cat, and giving them different, unusual characteristics. Can you see in your mind a cat quacking or tweeting? The picture that is visualised is a humourous one! The repetition of words has allowed for a good flowing structure.
3rd Place: Last Night I Dreamed of Elephants by Catriona Clarkson
All children love to dream and tell about their dreams. As the reader I can easily imagine these elephants balancing on benchtops, reading books and making funny noises. The image of an elephant in underwear hiding in a fridge is quite amusing as is the twist at the end where I can see a child waking up almost in fright with water all over him or her. The rhyme and rhythm is good and the words flow quite readily.
Highly Commended: Lost by Sage Weale
All children can relate to being lost. Can visualise what this child is feeling.
Highly Commended: Our Chooks by Lara Murray
Good use of language. Flows well to tell a story.
Highly Commended: Chickenpox Socks by Elisha Tilley
Lots of rhyming fun. Spots and dots and lots of rhythm.
Highly Commended: Bee Bee Bumble Bee by Jasmine Jones
Through the language used can visualise well Bumble Bees dancing around. Good use of repetition of sounds.
8-10 Years – Judge: Jenny Sharp
1st Place: Brace Face by Philippa Maguire
Based on a fact of life for many children, this poem takes a quirky look at what it feels like to wear braces. Originally presented it is fast paced and funny. The title itself is punchy and the reader can identify with and visualise what the individual with braces is going through. Written in first person, the words are used wisely, for example “Food gets stuck. It’s a feast in there! There's peas in the wire, like some green nightmare..." gives the reader a really good visual of what is going on. The rhyme and rhythm works well throughout. The structure, grammar and punctuation have been presented well.
2nd Place: Boat Ride by Miranda Kidd
Boat Ride captivated my attention from beginning to end. Free flowing words that continually question life. Bright, colourful, descriptive language such as "wishing waves whisper, oceans will divide, collide..." allows the reader to see and feel what is happening. Boat Ride makes the reader think about life and all that is in it, questioning and wondering from the very beginning then at the end the individual is asking to be accepted for what s/he is. A thought provoking message.
3rd Place: The Peaceful Box by Emily Knobloch
Gentle and caring, this poem sets the scene of what we all wish for - a peaceful, happy life. The reader can feel each experience, "freshness of rain in winter's hail, swaying trees, shard of water trickling from the mouth of a waterfall….” The writer is reminding the reader about wonders of nature and how we need to appreciate these. Even though many of the concepts such as "freshness of rain " are not new, the author has presented them originally. The reader is left feeling almost sad, yet is reminded of what beautiful things we have on earth. Structurally sound and vividly descriptive.
Highly Commended: Shadow at the Gate by Kristin Gray
Its great to have a mate like Codger. The words flow smoothly and honestly to tell an original aussie story.
Highly Commended: All Packed by Megan Humphreys
Good imagery that takes a light hearted look at packing to go away. Written from an original angle.
Highly Commended: Books by Aisling Miller
Light hearted and fluent. Reads well telling the story of exactly what it is that books offer us.
Highly Commended: Athena’s Will by Tatiana Mills
Fantastic use of imagery set in an original tale.
Highly Commended: Relief by Antonia Langenegger
Well used combination of imagery and tempo to tell the story.
Highly Commended: Cyclone by Ryan Langer
Repetition of words used wisely. Good rhythm.
Highly Commended: When a Storm Comes by Kate Dillon
The running together of the words describe the story quite freely. Good use of metaphor.
Highly Commended: Winter’s Silence by Megan Humphreys
Short yet subtle. The reader can "feel" the coldness yet warmth of winter.
11-13 Years – Judge: Jenny Sharp
1st Place: Alzheimer’s by Boyd Tarlinton
Original in content and context. Words flow beautifully on the page and are full of questioning and understanding. The reader can feel the desperation of the person with Alzheimer’s as they reach out, understanding, but not understanding what is happening to them. The reader can feel the sadness through the words and how they are used. The language is very descriptive, at times the visual can be hauntingly real eg. twisting through his fingers drifting out of reach, and words such as evading and scamper all set a succinct image in the readers mind. It is thought provoking for the reader, reminding us that this disease is a reality of our being. Good structure, grammar, paragraphing, punctuation.
2nd Place: Drought by Jamie-Lee Egberts
The imagery in this text is beautiful. The reader can see the scene as if it were a painting - you can feel and see and smell the landscape. The repetition of the words "From my window" sets every scene well. Word usage such as “exhausted teenagers lying around, rustle and crackle" create impact with every image. Even though drought is a terrible force of nature, the author has created a picture of beauty.
3rd Place: A Tale of Two Worlds by Alexandra Kerslake
This is a tale of optimism; of how opposites attract and the author states this in a twist at the end. The imagery used through metaphor is fantastic. You can see the bustling city and the sun blazing. Words such as "frantic and scurry” are powerful words that create their own images as do "soothing and distant". The comparison of the city and the country is a true account of what is perceived of both places. The last two lines sum up the optimism felt - "living in the city is in the dark” has underlying meaning and demonstrates the authors understanding.
Highly Commended: My Window by Amelia Le-Bherz
Created many sensory and figurative images in the mind of the reader
Highly Commended: Invisible by Margaret Colbrahams
Vivid words that create emotional responses for the reader.
Highly Commended: The Guardian by Boyd Tarlinton
Created many sensory images for the reader that also evoked emotional responses.
Highly Commended: Be the Change you Want to See in the World by Wensy Ng
Fantastic use of imagery and sensory images to send a thought provoking message.
Highly Commended: My Cat Holden by Hayden Welge
Great structure to describe what's happening in an amusing way. An original idea to describe the musings of a cat.
Highly Commended: Fallen by Amber Hilton
Left the reader feeling somewhat sad at what unfortunately is a reality of life for some people.
Highly Commended: The Divorce by Sam Maclean
Free flowing words that tell a story that in the end, sends a thought provoking message to the reader.
Highly Commended: The Bush by Sarah Josey
Fantastic rhythm and rhyme throughout. Good use of metaphor and simile to describe the aussie bush.
14-15 Years – Judge: Mark Svendsen
With a Master of Creative Writing, poet and novelist, Mark Svendsen conducts workshops throughout Australia for both children and adults. His published works include picture books, novels for young adults and younger readers, as well as poetry for adults and children, plays, lyrics and reviews.
1st Place: The Hanging by Kirily Greenbank
Not technically perfect in rhythm or expression, but a very fine piece of rhymed verse none the less. Encourage poet to edit some more to make it perfect – last line stanza 4; last 2 lines stanza 5; last two lines stanza 6; very last line. Story of Ned Kelly. Quite strong feeling. Good imagery – especially verbs.
2nd Place: A Perpetual Sound by Clara Fannjiang
A difficult piece handled well. Structure is strong, though sometimes too complex in imagery which obfuscates meaning. Also sometimes too cerebral and not enough emotion. A couple of strong poems by this poet.
3rd Place: No Longer by Sarah Merry
The best of the “long-gone-wrong” poems in this category with a nice twist of the emotional knife in the end.
Highly Commended: Nest of Notes by Rosie Maguire
A wonderful idea which needs a little more work to make it work.
Highly Commended: Funeral in a Small Town by Violet Macdonald
A slight but nicely wrought set of images. A few redundant images, which, if removed, will strengthen it greatly.
Highly Commended: Father to Son by Violet Macdonald
Well written, though a couple of images eg. “cyanide in your apple pips” (is the father eating them?) confuse this reader.
Highly Commended: When I First Stepped Out by India Nicholls
A solid poem, but a bit “slight” thematically. Good use of language.
16-17 Years – Judge: Mark Svendsen
1st Place: Echoes of Innocence by Ella Ruuskanen
This poem speaks of the unity of humanity through suffering. A child is born “inside four walls / of sun-dried mud”, but its mother does not survive. The poet imagines that she/he shares the grief of the child, but can only change the world and commune through dreams. Young poet remember – dreams are the beginning of magic and magic, so well expressed, can change things forever. A different theme from most in this section.
2nd Place: First Brother by Rebecca Lynch
Not technically great as rhythm often teeters on prosaic, but the reflection on an earlier childhood is the stuff of poetry. Children can wield lightning – “delivering lightning shards down from the angry sky!”
3rd Place: Tribute to Captain Clarence Smith Jeffries, VC by Caelli Greenbank
Technically very fine rhymed verse. Keep it up as rhyme is the tradition. Records the exploits of Capt. Clarence Smith Jeffries, but a little too exhaustively. Unfortunately, too much information lets this fine poem down, but well done none the less.
Highly Commended: A Memory from Summer by Celina Macdonald
A beautiful single image of innocence lost – balloons that lose their buoyancy. Some extraneous information.
Highly Commended: Universe - Earth by Kirsty McCormack
A difficult “big” poem, which plays with structure. A few poems by this poet, I guess. Give the reader a little more guidance.
Highly Commended: Consequential Silence by Terri Keevers
Strong theme of distance between fathers and sons. Not quite enough “evidence” of the emotional effect of this distance on the son.
Highly Commended: “Too Country” by Stacey Beumer
A traditional lyric. Would go well – if not already – as a song. Fun and sassy. Keep up the rhyme!
Chairperson’s Encouragement Award – 5-17 Years – Judge: Mark Svendsen
Open Age Bush Poetry - Judges: Graeme Johnson & Trevor Johnson
Graeme Johnson, The Rhymer from Ryde, has received over 70 awards for his Bush Poetry, Free Verse, Limericks and Yarnspinning. He combines his 25 years of theatrical experience with his love of traditional and original verse to “paint pictures with words”. Graeme is regularly invited to judge national bush poetry competitions.
Trevor Johnson has been a member of the Ipswich Poetry Feast committee since its inception in 2002. He is also a member of the Ipswich Bush Poets Association.
Trevor - Having judged four out of five Ipswich Poetry Feast Bush poets sections, I believe the standard this year was of the highest standard so far, and would like to congratulate all the entrants.
1st Place: Pride by David Campbell of Beaumaris, Vic.
Trevor - Perfect rhyme and pitch which flows and is easy to read and understand. This poem demonstrates the strength and need for mateship in this world.
Graeme – A good Bush Poem, justifiably rewarded with 1st place. Read well, didn’t jar or falter due to the author’s attention to the two crucial aspects of Bush Verse, rhyme and metre, both handled here with subtle aplomb. Relevant but not clinched. Simply written and presented. Engaging.
2nd Place: Waterloo by Brenda Joy of Charters Towers, Qld
Trevor - A humorous and novel poem reflecting the difference between rural and city life when it comes to preserving our precious water supply.
Graeme – Good rhyme. One mistake in metre. Punctuation needs attention. (It is inconsistent throughout the poem), Nonetheless, a funny poem about conserving water in the bush.
3rd Place: What They Learned Me in the War by Bill Martin of Mothar Mountain, Qld
Trevor - While this theme has been done many times in the past, the use of clever wording and phrasing by the writer demonstrates that bullies realise the error of their ways in the end.
Graeme – A few “lazy” mistakes with rhyme held this piece back. It also needs more work with regards to its metre. Good punctuation. Touching and involving story about the true value of mateship.
Highly Commended: The Legend of the Rocking Roo by John Fegan of Kenmore, Qld
Graeme – Again, both rhyme and metre need careful consideration. A little long for me. Interesting subject matter.
Highly Commended: The Long Paddock by Zondrae King of East Corrimal, NSW
Graeme – Good use of rhyme and metre. Obviously written by someone whose “lived the story” as it rings very true.
Highly Commended: Living in the Aussie Bush by Susan Greenbank of Creswick, Vic
Graeme – Bold use of “mid rhyme” almost worked. Metre needs work. Very pertinent to the events of recent times.
Highly Commended: The Old Man’s Splendid Ball by Steve Lewis of Underwood, Qld
Graeme – Rhyme good. Metre slightly off. A “rollicking’ yarn reminiscent of “When McDougall topped the score”.
Highly Commended: Poor Old McPhee by Valerie Read of Bicton, WA
Graeme – “Mid rhyme” comes to the “fore” again. Metre close, but not quite “there”. McPee’s strength was its use of vernacular.
Highly Commended: Hidden Gully by Zondrae King of East Corrimal, NSW
Graeme – Good rhyme. Judicious use of descriptive language made this a joy to read. Spoilt by “jarring” end of last rhyming couplet
Open Age - Other Poetry – Judges: Graham Nunn & David Stavanger
Graham Nunn is the Queensland editor of Blue Dog, Australian Poetry Journal and Secretary of the Australian Haiku Society. He has published four collections of poetry and is the founding member of local performance group, SpeedPoets. Graham’s work has been described as assured, achieved and ambitious.
Winner of the prestigious Performance Poetry World Cup in 2005, David Stavanger is one of Australia’s most innovative spoken word artists and Slam Poetry’s “Slammaster”. He describes himself as a hybrid of performance poetry, spoken word theatre and surrealist vaudeville.
1st Place: Shell by Ashley Capes
This poem was the stand out entry .The poet demonstrating an economy of language and the ability to transport the reader into the moment. The house, nothing more than a shell as the car pulls out of the drive. The poet lets go of all that sense of possession we associate with our house and in doing so, challenges us to reconsider our own place in the world.
2nd Place: Between Barcaldine and Us by Vanessa Page
From the first line, this poem draws us in to the physical landscape -When the sky has turned to milk. And slowly, we are drawn into the human landscape. The sense of distance, beautifully captured as the poet writes -in a motel far from you/ working telephone text into dialects/ and with hands, cellophane crisp/ decoding your face. This poem rewards you with each read.
3rd Place: Wet Robots by Brett Dionysius
Here, the poet provides the reader with several vivid snapshots. The poem has that photo album feel. Throughout we are shown a diversity of images: the body of a young whale, slowing traffic like a speed hump; a fish tank where death spread like algae; a meat ant nest where as they emerged, furious, they were squished like little wet robots; the carnage a fox leaves when entering a chicken coop. Each verse, neatly captures the moment it observes, and in doing so creates an overall narrative.
Highly Commended: Girl in Winter/Driftwood by Michael Crane
As I stood on the rocks beside the girl in this poem, I felt menace and hope in equal parts. The girl walks away, but I was left wondering for how long as she continues to look for strangers with a single strand of seaweed in their hair.
Highly Commended: Kindergarten-Sized-Shoes by Nicholas Eldridge of Glen Waverley, Vic
Simple, engaging and playful. Really enjoyed the way the student -teacher relationship was captured here.
Open Age - Local Poetry - Judges: Graham Nunn & David Stavanger
1st Place: Tiaro Shack by Julie Lynch
The imagery in this poem is sharp and effective. The shack takes on the attributes of a living organism; animal and house depending equally on each other for life. The outsider here, the pair of Blundstone boots. Their introduction at the end of this poem, leaves us to ponder their place in this delicate ecosystem. With every great poem, what is left out is just as important as what is written and this poet seems aware of the need for economy and space for the reader.
2nd Place: Disconnected Grammar by Sue Bailey
There is an authentic voice on display here. The poet, spotlighting a moment where their relationship becomes stressed syllables. The language is simple, but continues to resonate in the head and heart long after reading.
3rd Place: Evening Scene by Caitlin Prouatt
The power of this poem comes in its brevity and originality. We are all familiar with sundown clouds, but here the poet describes them as 'diplodocus/ ribs'. This is an original image and made me want to come back to this poem for repeated reads.
Highly Commended: Rugby by Brett Dionysius
Some stunning images here -his blackened eye is history's war paint; adolescence is an intercept pass. Particularly enjoyed how the phases of a rugby career, represented different developmental phases of the poet.
Highly Commended: Vinnie’s by Julie Lynch
There is a sense of experimentation here that gives this poem its urgency. The running together of words echoed the jumble of the Vinnie's store.
Chairperson’s Encouragement Award – Open Age – Judges: Graeme Johnson & Trevor Johnson
What Can I Use This For? by Brenda Joy
This is a humourous poem fairly well written and the only reason it did not list among the winners is because the story is set in India and not Australia. It is a novel theme which is original.