Judges' Report on the 2011 Winners

5-7 Years – Judge: Ann Christopherson 

1st Place:  Volcano by Jesse van Swinderen
Danger and fear is clearly expressed by the use of powerfully placed similes and metaphor in this poetic narrative. Using the senses to create the image is clever.

2nd Place:  Ballet Lessons by Lauren Packer
The rhythmic quality of this light, joyful poem and the clever use of phrasing make it distinctive and fresh, a pleasure to read.

3rd Place:  The Jolly Postman by Tanya Sinha
Rhyming couplets are used to describe poetically the familiar context of bedtime ritual reading. The inclusion of much loved characters enhances the impact of this piece for young readers.

Highly Commended:  My Sister Margaret by Winnie Waterworth
This funny, clever limerick- like piece just makes the reader smile!  Delightful!

Highly Commended:  Amazing Clouds by Tanya Sinha
Strong imagery drives this poem. Well chosen descriptors paint pictures for the reader. Sometimes the rhyme is a little forced so be careful.

Highly Commended:  A Tree in All Seasons by Columbine Dore
The simple, clean message expressed with well chosen vocabulary works well.

Highly Commended:  My Dog by Lauren Gibson
A loving, personal tribute to “a mostly black dog” which creates wonderful imagery with an economy of words.


8-10 Years – Judge: Ann Christopherson

1st Place: My Cat by Grace Brockett
Lewis Carroll move over! The delightful use of nonsense words and neologisms bring back memories of Jabberwocky as this remarkable animal is described in “difblendis” splendour!

2nd Place: The Harpist by Bessie Hosking
The soft, flowing imagery of this piece is created through the use of well chosen vocabulary, use of simile and clever phrasing. The jolting last line makes the reader think.

3rd Place: Solitary Straw Man by Dalena Dinh
The power of personification evokes an emotional response in the reader. The last line is ironic and completes this piece masterfully.  Well done.

Highly Commended: The Beach by James Moriarty
Metaphor is used maturely with great skill in this piece.  So detailed are the images that an artist could paint this poem.

Highly Commended: Wolf by Tessa van Swinderen
Sleek, economical phrasing and “perfect words in perfect places” make this poem memorable and a real tribute to this fascinating animal that inhabits our literary and real world.

Highly Commended: Confusion by Simon Watt
The emotional and complex nature of this personal poem shows maturity and evokes the deep concern in all of us: will we measure up when the time comes? Beautifully written...

Highly Commended: Ocean’s Fair by Teagan Baldwin Core
Vivid vocabulary supports the imaginative concept of this poem.  The use of repetition is useful and deliberate. It is fresh and distinctive.

Highly Commended: Patience by Harry Che
The stark and economic use of vocabulary creates a sobering message. Well done.

Highly Commended: The Outback by Claire Moman
Metaphor and simile is used well in this descriptive piece. “The sun sets like butter melting into toast”, wonderful imagery!

Highly Commended: An Image of Morning Grass by Nicola Frassetto
Metaphor and simile are well used tools in this piece.  Punctuation and phrasing may need a look in to make reading for meaning less dense. Keep writing as you have talent!

Highly Commended: Stage Fright by Liam Plumpton
Anyone who has publically competed will totally recognise and understand your words! Short, snappy phrasing gives the intended impact.

Highly Commended: The Flood by Caitlin Williamson
Ipswich folk will recognise the lamented image you have created. Hope, appropriately, is conveyed at the end. 

Highly Commended: What the Sea Knows by Katie Bell
This gentle, flowing verse embraces the contrast found in nature beautifully.

Highly Commended: My Family by Jessica Deas
Rhyming couplets seems appropriate for this fun and simple tribute to a family that anyone would like to visit.

Highly Commended: Autumn by Delaram Sani Kermani
Great use of adjectives and verbs in this seasonal verse. Third from the last needs some simple adjustment. 

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11-13 Years – Judge: David Stavanger

1st Place:  Disruptive Night by Loc Nguyen
Brief but effective poem; places the reader straight into the sense of place; concrete images set against abstract words; great last line, the little brother as "blanket" fugitive. Great piece.

2nd Place:  The Magic Box by James Shegog
Great imagery throughout, concrete to surreal. "last bark from an old dog" particularly striking image, sense of our last moments and holding onto them. Nice use of repetition. Well done!

3rd Place: Fixing Fences by Fletcher Apel
Great title. Simple but well constructed concrete sound poem. Nice shape & flow on the page; first line sets up the poem immediately; would also work well as an oral work. Snap Snap!

Highly Commended:  Strawberry is… by Nikita Rahman
Rich & surprising descriptions throughout.

Highly Commended: Why Do We by Krystal Hallam
Short philosophical piece.

Highly Commended: 100 in 1 by Isabel Bosman
A little absurdest piece about a hat.

Highly Commended: Like a Chainsaw Cutting a Little Grain of Sand by Charlotte Schmidt
Great title and central simile.

Highly Commended:  Creature by Tia Adermann
Nice humour and attempts at storytelling.

14-15 Years – Judge: Pascalle Burton

1st Place:  The Not-So-Standard Book of Birds by Elizabeth Waldron
This is a humorous poem that does just the trick! It tickles the funny bone with clever comparisons between the British and Australian birds (and perhaps an underlying commentary about their citizens, too?). The language devices are well used and don’t come across forced as a result. My favourite lines are in the 6th stanza, talking about the emu: ‘Is only graceful when it puts/Its foot through half your lung’.

2nd Place:   Roadtrip by Sara Stanley
This open form poem has a cinematic quality to it that widens the reader’s imagination. The choices of rhythm and simple language enhance the piece; the opening four lines help us to buckle in and go for the ride: ‘With the old ute packed,/ The windows down,/ No work for a week/ And money in the back pocket’.

3rd Place:  Letter to the Chief Cosmeticienne (in charge of pores) of the Institute de Beaute by Elizabeth Waldron
This humorous poem is confident from its title to its closing line! An imaginative way to make social comment, and a valiant effort in keeping to the demanding structure. It mixes the letter and poem genres with a comfortable-sounding and jargon-specific rhyme.

Highly Commended:  Taken by Kate Johns
This is a simple and poignant poem about a sensitive subject. The structure has a consistent form but it is not overwhelming and allows the reader to be affected by the emotional content above all else.

Highly Commended:  Remote War by Caelan Baldwin Core 
This poem makes a social commentary between the connections between media and war. It is written through imagery rather than being explicit, and moves between the issues, blurring them; the call to action is to fight and this irony is effective. A strong feature is the rhythm and repetition, enhancing the military nature of the poem: ‘Watched in real time, twenty-four seven/ Real lives, real people, real pain’.

Highly Commended:  Down Beneath the Waves by Annie-Rose Forsythe   
This is a journey, both beautiful and mystical – the images made are colourful and alive. Each stanza rhythmically sets a new observation and is anchored with the refrain. I particularly like ‘Echo my movement with their retreat’ and ‘calm, flat unchanging mirror to the sky’.

Highly Commended:  The Street Corner by Jamie-Lee Egberts
A short but effective piece that isolates images to set an entire scene. I was impressed by the choice of language, sinister and full of peril, such as ‘Trees sway dangerously close to power lines’ and ‘Dogs howl at unseen predators’. 


16-17 Years – Judge: Pascalle Burton

1st Place: Stamps by Jacqueline Krynda
 A wonderful open form object poem that reveals much more than it seems; the imagery linking the stamp collection and the atrocities of World War II, which then positions us to consider our own secrets and behaviours. A sophisticated use of natural language and rhythm and I particularly like the lines ‘adjusted obediently in/ rows and columns/ and covered with waxy paper’.

2nd  Place: The Night Road by Jacqueline Krynda
This poem has a deep sense of situation and is quite cinematic in its quality, with a skillful use of language to create effective imagery, such as the lines ‘a prisoner of self,/ trapped in the gaze of our own/ pale silhouettes’.

3rd Place:  Dispossession by Jack Burnham 
This was a moving piece with a relatable topic that was approached in a sophisticated manner. A highly rhythmic poem with an inventive use of enjambment and action, such as in stanza 9: ‘The walls of the past are now stained, and/ silt from the river bed is settled and still/ in the carpet. Squatting’.

Highly Commended:  Death in the City-State by Daena Ho 
An enlightening piece that uses the senses to portray a powerful memory that considers culture and grief. Fantastic final lines ‘but I knew the scent of grief/ wilting in the heat’.

Highly Commended:  The Ox by Sarah Webster 
This poem creates a world of its own, its own cycles and struggles, in a meditative manner. The language builds slowly and deliberately, such as ‘The ox/ is a brazen hulk/ lying naked/ atop an imaginary pool/ of cracked mud’.
Highly Commended:  Static by Jacqueline Krynda
The structure of this poem craftily merges perspectives of the world and where the speaker belongs amongst it all; a need to do something but an inability to make any kind of response. The plays on words (‘static’) and imagery (the soccer match and conflict in Israel) will have the reader considering these kinds of human conflicts, as well as inner conflict.

Highly Commended:   Sea Go Still by Sarah Webster
This is an epic poem with a hefty journey, reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway, Herman Melville and Jules Verne! The language combines sounds cleverly without bowing to a forced rhyming scheme, such as in the lines ‘To unleash the bleached fabric,/From its roping bonds,/ and cease to sail’.

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Open Age - Bush Poetry –  Judges:  Noel Stallard and Trevor Johnson

1st Place:  Grandad’s Purple Donkey by Kym Eitel
Noel Stallard: The writer demonstrates an excellent understanding of the genre of Bush Poetry. With consistent metre and accurate rhyme the poet introduces a theme and develops it to a dramatic conclusion. The reader's interest is heightened by not only the significance of the Purple Donkey but the masterful way the poet has introduced three different aged characters whose dialogue moves from description to suspense to violence. The veneer of civility is stripped away and the stark reality of what the grandad had experienced is revealed. This is achieved by insightful imagery that is both relevant and forceful. This poem has the potential to have a significant impact on its reader.

2nd Place:  The Quest for Annabelle by Ellis Campbell
Trevor Johnson: A well written story – like a good book you can’t put it down till the end.
Noel Stallard: The author demonstrates an excellent control of consistent metre and accurate rhyme. The theme introduced is developed with a relevant degree of mystery, intrigue and forceful imagery. There is a satisfying development by way of conclusion to the ballad.

3rd Place:  The Dungeon on the Hill by Tom McIlveen
Trevor Johnson: Some highly descriptive scenes of the bush – Well structured with excellent use of words.
Noel Stallard: The trauma of life in an orphanage is forcefully captured in the imagery of this poem.  The poet has excellent control of metre and rhyme. The parallel between “the ridge gum” and “the hungry little refugees” is apt. Another powerful verse “the wounds no longer bleeding are the ones that never heal”.

Highly Commended:  One More Day by Ellis Campbell
Trevor Johnson: A tale of modern life through the yes of a nursing home resident – well structured and flows along smoothly.
Noel Stallard: The reveries of an old man are well explored in this poem that demonstrates consistent metre and accurate rhyme. Imagery is forceful and relevant to the theme being developed.

Highly Commended:  As Tracks May Lead by Brenda Joy
Trevor Johnson: A well structured and believable yarn.
Noel Stallard:  Poet develops the introduced theme of the son to a suitable conclusion. Great control of metre and rhyme

Highly Commended:  A Kingdom of Clouds by David Campbell
Trevor Johnson: A sad tale with good use of words and meter.
Noel Stallard: Interesting approach to dealing with loss. Good control of metre and rhyme.

Highly Commended:  The Old Man and the Dairy by Tom McIlveen
Trevor Johnson: Life on a dairy farm through the yes of an old man.  Well written flows well.
Noel Stallard: Pen pictures of the life and times of a Dairy Farmer are vivid and at times forceful. Metre and rhyme excellent. Conclusion fair.

Highly Commended:  Black and White by Tony Hammill
Trevor Johnson: Story of Henry Somerset – highly descriptive
Noel Stallard: The historical Significance of these events as well as the forceful imagery hold the attention of the reader. Metre and rhyme are excellent.

Highly Commended:  Nature Versus Man by Ellis Campbell
Trevor Johnson: Story of Henry Somerset – highly descriptive
Noel Stallard: Accurate metre and rhyme. Forceful imagery. Relevant comparisons.  Clever use of “sound syllables”.

Open Age - Other Poetry - Judge:  Graham Nunn

1st Place: Albion Street by Brett Dionysius
Let me start by saying that this is an incredibly important poem in Ipswich’s history and I feel honoured to have been introduced to it via this competition. Albion Street shines a light on the too-short-life of Andrew Bornen and the tragic circumstances in which he died in February 2009. It is an uncompromising poem, gritty in its detail. The bitumen where Andrew’s life ended snakes its way through the poem, in many ways taking on a life of its own. The poem opens with an image of the bitumen as ‘a blue scab short-healed and sticky where its edges had been picked at by cars & trucks’ and leaves us with an image of the road as ‘oddly comfortable’, standing in for ‘the care of atoms & earthly stuff’; an ‘indigo cloak’ that has engulfed Andrew’s sixteen short years. Several animal species make a cameo in this poem; spectators on the tragedy. Rainbow lorikeets spew white noise, fruit bats form ‘a furry vortex’ and possums suck Andrew in with the ‘pitch-black bathplugs of their eyes’. Unknowingly, each animal adds to the loneliness, looking down on this ‘fallen statue carved from sixteen years of love’ as the final, unheard stroke of the chisel is made on his life. I hope that this poem is read widely and that it opens up a new dialogue on the incredibly important issue of youth justice.

2nd Place: Pink Balloon by Brett Dionysius
The opening image is immediately memorable, ‘Death surprises in summer like the two dollar birds who winged in one morning & shored up residence on the power lines.’ These birds become ‘dread symbols’, as ‘black clad mourners file down to the church’s pulpit’. And though the birds remain unheard, their voice is given power against the silence, crystallising in the souls of the mourners. This vivid moment of loss comes to an end as the ‘little lunch bell’ rings. It is here the poet shows their mastery of ‘the image’, as this seemingly insignificant tolling, allows the day to continue, the birds to fly on and the sky to raise its pink balloon.

3rd Place: Today in New York by Kira McPherson
An elegantly simple poem, that reads like a broken love note; the poet deciding to tell a past or current love love that today, ‘nothing really happened’; they ‘woke and went back to bed with a fever’ and sat sweaty watching King Kong, believing one day they could be the Empire State Building. There is a beautiful sense of finality about this poem, as the poet spills forth these feverish thoughts, even though they have not been asked about their day, as telling is almost as good as something happening. The poet has shown great restraint to leave the poem where it ends and in doing so, allows the reader to imagine themself into the moment.

Highly Commended: The Silent Evolution by Jan Price
This poem, written in response to the underwater life size sculptures of Jason de Caires Taylor, sparkles with many unique and vivid images. In this poem, the ‘sun leisurely shrapnels over skylights of waves’, and the face of ‘the nun with please for a mouth’ is wrinkled in no other prayer. The final image of divers ‘dropping black as frogs’ to get a closer look at the sculptures is one of great beauty.

Highly Commended: Hives by Nathan Curnow
A poem that skillfully portrays the family as a hive; the poet conjuring fiery images of a Reverend father whose temper flew, while his children bowed their heads, desperate not to smell like panic. Tightly written, with excellent use of extended metaphor.

Highly Commended: Girl in Winter/Driftwood by Michael Crane
A chilling, yet hopeful look at a girl on the edge wondering ‘how easy to take one step, to float effortlessly away.’ The image of seaweed is central to this poem and in the final stanza it is as if the girl has taken the leap and has seen what awaits her there.

Highly Commended: Chrysalid by Vanessa Page
On a day ‘made for breaking’, agapanthus heads invite destruction, milk is poured down the sink and the sky shatters as curtains are slid open. There is a sharp edge to this poem; many of the images cutting with the clarity of a diamond.

Highly Commended: For My Father by Mark Miller
A poem in two parts; the first a recollection of the poet’s love for a father who was gone early in the morning and home in the evening, too drunk to see ‘his newly polished work shoes’ and ‘covered tea sitting on the cold stove-top plate’. The second part of the poem closes with the striking image of the poet, meeting the eyes of their father in a photo, stirred by the realization they are making all the mistakes they thought were his.

Highly Commended: Camping Upriver by Mark Miller
A poem that shimmers with images of natural beauty; ‘corrugated roofing spilled and rusting in lantana’, the ‘sinuous s shape’ of a fishing line, water erasing history from the river’s floor. The poet has demonstrated a keen eye for detail.

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Open Age - Local Poetry - Judge: Graham Nunn 

1st Place: Heartland by Brett Dionysius
Heartland is a magnificent sequence of poems, written by a poet of great skill. It throbs with the power of the Bremer as it ‘spreads its brown girth’ and pulls at the ‘stockinged toes’ of Margaret Wheeler, dragging her deeper into the ‘eye of her own storm’. With deft touch, the poet allows us to experience Margaret’s final journey on this earth, as she tumbles into the river to establish, ‘a bad connection with the knowledgeable world’. She calls out, but her voice is ‘shot & speechless’ unable to ‘condemn her own body for its sin’ and soon she is ‘blended into the riverbank’s collage of she-oak needles & terraced rock’. The third and fourth stanzas then reveal Margaret’s Kafkaesque metamorphosis; cicadas leaving ‘their golden filigree husks behind pinned to her legs’ in an effort to teach her their ‘ingenious trick of tunneling into the body’s rich vein & breaking through’. And as the moon rises, her transformation is complete, vertebrae stirring like ‘a used ladder’ as she clambers free of ‘her earth-bound shell’. It is an incredible thing when a poet gifts you with knowledge you did not have and I feel so much richer for entering into Margaret’s world.

2nd Place: Final by Vanessa Page
Final is a poem of aching loss. The opening images create a haunting atmosphere, which is skillfully maintained throughout the poem. As we reach the Seven Mile Bridge, the Bremer is ‘kissing the road, the contents of its belly hung like scarecrow detritus’. This image of a scarecrow’s spilled belly, prepares us for the image of the body that lies ‘like a crumpled love note’ inside its post-war home; ‘hair as sudden as a final wingbeat’; but nothing can prepare us for the ‘bee-sting mouths’ squabbling over crystal sets and other human possessions. It is an image that struck a chord with me on first reading and continues to startle. With grace, the poet delivers a final couplet that moves us on from these ‘cutting words’ of greed, taking the hand of their lost loved one in a healing gesture.

3rd Place: Flood by Brett Dionysius
In this poem, ‘all manner of hell’s fierce creatures’ are ‘spewed forth’. Trapdoor spiders, centipedes and brown snakes inhabit the poem, ‘pawing at the spokes’ of a Hanimex Dragster and twisting like ‘unschooled swimmers’ as the ‘swollen brown abdomen’ of Myall Creek threatens to burst. The clarity of observation takes us deep into the moment and leaves us with the startlingly domestic image of ‘cleaning up cat shit’ on the ‘flooded linoleum’.

Highly Commended: Crossroads by Brett Dionysius
Crossroads opens with the image of a cane toad clubbed to death and shaken; ‘a scaly snow globe filled with fresh blood’. A siren is then heard and the radio spits news of a 16yr old that had ‘threatened police with a machete’. The poem grows in power, as the youth is ‘cuffed face-down’ and left on the road. The final image of death as a ‘burnout on the corner of the heart’ is one that will remain with me.

Highly Commended: Petrichor by Vuong Pham
This is a finely crafted shape poem with some striking images. Rain drops ‘calm the exhaustion of hysterical trees’ and offer peace to the puddle’s heartbeat’. It sparkles with haiku-like clarity.

Highly Commended: Fields of Cain by Damian Lewis
An intimate account of loss, brimming with religious imagery. Repetition of the word constant in the final stanza is very effective, culminating in the line, ‘Constant as the confusion that clouds her parents’ eyes as another son is laid in the soil’.

Chairperson’s Encouragement Awards

5-17 Years: Haunted by Julian Raven

Open Age: Ipswich – My City by William Forrest
There is an obvious passion for the city in this poem which shines through.

Special Theme: Ipswich - Great to Be Here

5-13 Years:

Winner: A Day Out by Sarah Hobson

14-17 Years: 

Winner: Crisis? What Crisis! by Casey Beaumont

Open Age:

Winner: Limestone Park by Vanessa Page

Mentorship Award

Petrichor by Vuong Pham

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