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Akinlabi Peter
Amanda Sington-Williams
A M Gatward
Ayat Ghanem
Bobby Parker
Chuma Nwokolo, Jr.
Dike Okoro
E C Osondu
Katie Metcalfe
Laura Solomon
Mandy Pannett
Michael Larrain
Oge Anyahuru
Terri Ochiagha
Uzor Maxim Uzoatu





Judges Report



This being my first stab at judging a poetry competition I wanted to use as many critical techniques I had at my disposal. However, out of what turned out to be quite a mixed batch of entries, only a few poems really jumped out at me and took me by the hand. So my job turned out to be easier than I thought.


First of all I discarded clichéd, clumsy, rhyme-led poems and poems that tried to philosophise too much without really taking me anywhere. There were a lot of poems with a good grasp of language but they failed to transcend, they remained simply words on a page. I think it can be too easy to let our minds become distracted by startling language, and regard such poems to be good poems, without considering the beating heart beneath the language that needs to be pumping those words around the body of the page.


I immediately chose ‘’Moving’’ as a possible winner, before going over it again and again, and again, and coming to the conclusion that it ticked pretty much all the boxes for me. It had to be first. The opening lines took me by the hand and by the end of the poem I had been somewhere and come back better for it. There is a command of line and craft in ‘’Moving’’ that doesn’t get in the way, that doesn’t drown out the sound of a heart beating.

    ‘’Pumpkin Seeds’’ was an obvious choice for second place, it appealed to my emotions immediately. It doesn’t try to be something else, it knows what it is and the writing almost peels away to reveal a handful of seeds. For me, the best poetry is something I can almost touch, almost have a conversation with, and by the end of the poem I wanted to take the wads of tissue out of the bin and put them under my pillow.

    ‘’Through Dust’’ is third, and struck a somewhat different chord. The economy of language was refreshing after wading through chunks of rambling prose going around in circles and making me dizzy. There is no padding and every word is just as it should be without giving in to the temptation to run away with itself.


As for the rest, I am confident around 32 of the poems that didn’t quite make it will prove to make an interesting and varied mix of voices for the resulting chapbook of runners up. From the very beginning, when I opened the envelope of entries and gave them a quick scan before diving in, it was obvious to me that Sentinel have gathered the interest of poets who are not afraid to write from the heart regardless of the consequences. Now is a time when poetry seems to be opening its eyes to the world again. I hope it likes what it sees.


To read the winning poems now, go to October issue of magazine. 


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BOBBY PARKER lives in Kidderminster in the West Midlands and runs the  Last Chance Before Bath-time publications






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Sentinel Literary Quarterly is Published by Sentinel Poetry Movement | Editor: Nnorom Azuonye

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