Sentinel Literary Quarterly

Vol.2 No.4, July 2009. ISSN 1753-6499 (Online).

The Magazine of World Literature

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Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2009)


Judges’ Report


Judging the sentinel competition was an exciting and encouraging experience for us but also a difficult task as the overall level of entries was so high and so varied.  After excluding entries that we felt weren’t there yet, because they were either rhyme-led or contained strained attempts to be poetic in terms of diction or word order or just hadn’t found a form that was fully appropriate for the subject or didn’t invite the reader to share the experience of the poem rather than be told about it, we still had fifty poems to judge from. We then separately went through a short-listing process – 32 poems, then 12 poems, where we had not both chosen a poem it was excluded as a possible prize winner then we had a final intense discussion about the final 7 or 8 poems. (Our shortlists were not at all dissimilar).


We both agreed quickly on the first prize though, we were both deeply impressed by the way “Coffee” makes new a well visited theme that is sadly all too contemporary, the control of its language, the personalisation of the universal, its emotional impact and the social punch that it packs as a poem. Similarly we were able to pick out “Enemy Funeral” next – its specific intensity of imagery, its movement and precision of editing, the fact that it has immediate relevance but maintains a  sense of timelessness – it would be recognisable to a participant or observer of any modern war but it still has the feeling of a lived moment. Third place was a lot more difficult as the variety of the poems was so great in terms of length and tone, in the end we both agreed upon “The god of allotments” – again the deciding factor was its capacity to be intensely personal but to touch a universal chord with its mixture of rhetorical examination of the love affair, its restrained language that makes the sense of mourning much more powerful and its judicious inclusion and editing of specific concrete detail with a well judged movement between mundanity and deep pathos.


While we have reached agreement on three winners we both feel that sense of regret for the other fine poems we looked at and there were too many to mention them all, the top agreed 32 will make a fine anthology though. I will mention a few that made a powerful impact on us that may on another day for other judges have made a prize. “Undine” was a beautiful sensuous poem that makes a swim into stripping down of social identity, “The Frog Population” was a dense and intense short poem that impressed with its movement from observation to expressive comment, “A House by the Sea” was a longer deceptively strange and unsettling poem that has stayed with both of us. “In Frome” was another intensely visual short poem that manages to contain a sense of lives lived and lost in impressive brevity. “Summer 1990” captured an epiphanic moment with great skill and precision, “Leaning in to the Afternoon” was a beautiful, magical poem that pays fitting tribute to Neruda.


There are many others that we could mention and complement but it’s enough to say that as experienced editors that a forthcoming anthology of the best of the entries will contain a full set of poems that are fully worthy of publishing and contain great variety of subject matter, tone and form. It seems clear from the overall spread of entries that Sentinel is encouraging an eclectic readership and it’s not an exaggeration to say that there is a discernible movement towards a poetry that is both modern and accessible, with a multinational flavour in its influences and delivery.


Andy Willoughby and Bob Beagrie.




Just a quick note to say thank you Bob and Andy for a job well done.

Now let’s put some names against the Winners and the Special Mentions.


First Prize

Coffee – by Miles Cain


Second Prize

Enemy Funeral – by Miles Cain


Third Prize

The God of Allotments – by Mandy Pannett


Special Mentions

Undine – by Noel Williams

The Frog Population – by L S Mensah

A House by the Sea – by Thomas Gayton

In Frome – by Graham Burchell

Summer 1990 – by Teodora Totorean

Leaning into the Afternoon – by Danny Bird


Thank you all and congratulations to the winners.


Nnorom Azuonye



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The Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2009) is now open for entries.

Bobby Parker will judge. Learn more>>

Sentinel Literary Quarterly

 Published by Sentinel Poetry Movement

Editor: Nnorom Azuonye

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