The joy of discovering often breathtaking poetry has been an enormous thrill, write the judges of this year’s Student Poetry Competition. Here they share their thoughts, insights and notable lines from this year’s entries.
Emily Dickinson once wrote:
“A word is dead
When it is said
I say it just
Begins to live
The judges in this year’s Students Poetry Competition would certainly agree with this latter view. Over 500 entries and more than 100,000 words from students in Foundation Year to Year 12 were submitted.
Selecting winners was extremely difficult but the broader experiences of exploration and discovery provided the panel with much elation.
Thank you to all students who took the time to perfect their writing and forward their poems, either written or performed.
All poems were read or viewed at least three times. The panel found that the initial reactions often changed the second or third time around. Some poems had 10 or more readings. Poems that lingered in the judges’ minds were pulled aside.
Poems that captured the judges’ attention from the start and maintained that engagement to the end were certainly followed up. Some followed the adage ‘don’t end with a whimper but a bang,’ and they too stood out.
Poems that displayed a fresh use of language or poetic devices also stood out as did poems containing lines that left the judges uncertain, confronted, affirmed, smiling, or otherwise moved. Unconventional language and syntax that created special effects and allure were also rewarded.
Poems succinctly populated with vivid, fascinating, relevant details and unforgettable, seemingly concrete images were acknowledged and warranted further readings and viewings.
Readers, the judges offer you a challenge. Analyse the winning poems and see if you can find lines that display some of the things that the judges loved and appreciated.
The judges are aware that there is rarely, if ever, a ‘finest’ poem as judging is subjective and, as it has been said, ‘life is not always fair.’ The judges wish to let students know how much they appreciate their creativity and will continue to post articles highlighting these memorable lines in the weeks ahead.
Thank you to all competitors for forwarding your poems and generating slivers of delight into the lives of so many. The joy of discovering often breathtaking poetry has been an enormous thrill.
Mark Strand, a former poet laureate of the United States once wrote:
“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth.
There is no happiness like mine.
I have been eating poetry.”
And this too has been the feeling of the judges in this year’s Student Poetry Competition. As the hundreds of poems submitted, gathered like friends around us, we began to see our world anew and for this we are extremely grateful.
The winning poems are published in full but in this article, we acknowledge many of the memorable lines that we have treasured in the Honourable Mention categories, lines that cannot be overlooked and deserve to be published.
Zaid, Year 4, captures succinctly but vividly, the flight of the Honeybee in its successful pursuit for nectar:
Humming and buzzing with quick pulsing wings
Honeybee flies past rushes and springs
He beats the air, then catches a scent
As he begins his measured descent. 1
Ilaria, Year 6, helps us appreciate the world anew as she describes the beauty of a rainy night in the city:
And the snails dragged their spiral shelters
out to enjoy the night
The rain drops tap-danced on the roofs of cars
While the old tabby cat preened his paws in the window sill.
And watched. 2
The magic of the moment is captured by Monica, Year 6:
Needles click repetitively,
Knitting woollen socks for cherished grandchildren.
Her loyal feline resting by her side. 3
Aurora, Year 9, uses perfect word choice with not a single space wasted:
We don’t speak with words
We speak with gentle brushing of shoulders,
a look across the room, a door opened,
There is a power in silence. 4
We appreciated the way that Ella, Year 12, did not hand everything out on a plate but made us think deeply about her words:
Strong and sure as the hand that guides me,
With heavy weariness, my one defender
My mother with hammer and nail
In her arms no longer lay a babe, but ay her breast stands a child. 5
Several lines about the moon offered us memorable images to see the moon anew.
Nikita, Year 12:
When the last embers of sunset rust subside
The face of the moon smiles from its bespangled bed
Resting, gleaming nightlight, Earth’s great chandelier. 6
Aafreen, Year 4:
The silver moon
Swells, shrinks, swells. 7
Emily, Year 6:
Stars ripple the sky with splashes of light
and the crescent moon shines like a diamond. 8
Georgia, Year 1:
If you are awake, you can see the moon
This amazing ocean night. 9
Then, there were the ingenious lines that made us laugh aloud.
Josh, Year 8:
We Australians have had many greats upon the past
Leaders strong and fearless, always up to any task
They head our wondrous nation, apologise and more
Then four years later, we banish them from the floor. 10
The excitement of the moment was felt in Shifra’s poem, Year 3:
Running and hopping
Swaying on the keyboard. 12
While Aria, Year 6, brings to life her father’s voice as he tells a bedtime story:
My father’s smooth, rich voice impersonates the magic of
Every frog that turns into a prince,
Every princess who sleeps for a hundred years. 13
Ariana, Year 4, displays absolute joy in describing her puppy:
Fur covered belly, soft and chubby,
Four little legs, quick but stubby,
Big lolling tongue, wet with slobber,
And those eyes! Stealing your heart like a robber. 14
Miette, Prep, lifted our spirits through her uncomplicated positivity:
When we all sit at the dinner table
We talk about our day
And other funny things we do. 15
As did Patrick, Year 1:
And the sun is the sun,
And the moon is the moon
To our perfect planet. 16
Luella, Year 7, invites us to look differently at nature:
A sunny flower
Held by a thin Green courageous stem
Blooming subtle little sprouts
While resting snug
In a warm blanket of soil. 17
While, Adele Year 4 juggles the seasons, causing us to hesitate then rethink:
In late December
Frosty wind made moan
Earth stood, hard as iron
Water like stone. 18
And lastly Yi, Year 10, writes from a unique perspective, offering her teacher advice:
Today she went to work
This is the outfit she often chooses to wear
In such occasions.
It doesn’t suit her
But all her colleagues wear it. 19
It is said that poets are wordsmiths. From reading these collections of lines you are likely to agree. We certainly do.
- Zaid Zuhair
Year 4, Fitra Community School
- Ilaria Faulknor
Year 6, Fitzroy Community School
‘Sparkles in the City’
- Monica Yu
Year 6, Harkaway Hills College
- Aurora Buckland
Year 9, Hazel Glen College
‘We Don’t Speak with Words’
- Elle Grant
Year 12, Melbourne Girls Grammar School
‘My Body is a House’
- Nikita Morin
Year 12, Gilson College
‘Beneath the Shade of the Sycamore Tree’
- Aafreen Shiekh
Year 4, Al Siraat College
‘The Night Sky’
- Emily Hack
Year 6, Harkaway Hills College
‘The New Day’
- Georgia Stuckey
Year 1, Harkaway Hills College
‘The Ocean Night’
- Josh Pittard
Year 8, Bacchus Marsh Grammar
‘The Ballad of ScoMo’
- Shifra Sacks-Frosh
Year 3, Sholem Aleichem College
Year 6, Wesley College
‘Somewhere to Belong’
- Ariana Fais
Year 4, Shelford Girls’ Grammar
- Miette Lansell
Prep, Fitzroy Community School
- Patrick Elias
Year 1, Fitzroy Community School
‘Our Perfect Planet’
- Luella Rose Freitag
Year 7, King David School
‘A Sunny Flower’
- Adele Bilney
Year 4, Ivanhoe Girls Grammar
‘In Late December’
- Yi Luan
Year 10, Tintern Grammar