Category Archives: Poetry

SLQ Poetry Competition May 2018, Judge’s Report and Results

Judge’s report
By Derek Adams.

Judging a poetry competition is always tough, but always a delight too, and the over two hundred entries in Sentinel’s May competition proved no exception. When I opened the weighty parcel that the postman delivered I must admit I wondered how I would choose just twelve poems from the pile in front of me. Methodically is the only way, I read through all the poems once separating them in to two piles, a longlist that made instant impressions on me and a ‘Return to’ pile that were missing something. Then the next day I read through the ‘return-to’ pile again to make sure no gems had slipped through the net. The third day, because you need to put some time between each read-through to come at the poems fresh, is when it gets tough, cutting the long list of good poems to a shortlist.

Finally choosing 12 poems from a shortlist of 27, then trying to place them in order, when there’s hardly a cigarette paper between them, is the hardest part of all, but here they are with some words about my reasons for choosing them.

First prize: Crunching on bones
This poem grabbed my attention on the first reading and wouldn’t let go. On each re-reading I liked it more, by the time I got to the first shortlist, this poem was looking like the favourite. I liked how the repetition of words and the alliteration help build a sense of claustrophobia. There is an urgency about the poem with it’s single sentence stanzas. This is a chilling story of two women who share a house with a man, a man whose presence fills this poem; ‘he filled the room / With his oilskinned back and black, wet hair’, he is a man of few words, and the narrator would do anything for him, ‘eat the crunchy ends’ of bones ‘so nothing’s wasted’ if that’s what he wants, even kill for him if that’s what he wants. This poem is compact and image-filled, it tells a story too big to be contained in its eighteen lines. It spills over and gets into your head, which is what the poet ‘wants you see and I do. I do.’ I have probably read this poem at least thirty times now and it still grabs, chills and surprises me.

Second Prize: Love, The Name
This is a touching poem about a stillborn baby whose ‘rosebud lips never uttered a single sound.’ This poem is filled with flora, from the prospective names abandoned in favour of Amy (a name derived from the French verb aimer to love), through stages of pregnancy, to the ‘teardrop sprays’ of the funeral. Again this is a poem that stood out on first reading, and continued to reveal itself on consequent readings.

Third Prize: Doctor’s Bag
I enjoyed the way the title slightly wrongfooted me when the doctor’s bag revealed its contents, the ‘heavy projector’ and the ‘tangled reels loose with life’. I like the detail of this poem: its sounds and smells, the ‘Cheezels and green cordial’ and its ‘gold floral wallpaper’. The middle of this poem conjures a vision of happy families, only to wrongfoot us again with the mother leaving, and taking us back to the beginning with the bag hidden in the back of the wardrobe, the father ominously keeping the mother’s ‘soundless memories choked / into strips of film.’

Highly commended

How to make a Chough: an Origami poem
This is another poem that caught my attention straight away, fabulous idea, amazing images and a satisfying last line.

Moth
I loved reading this poem out loud with its use of alliteration and wonderful words, whose sound rolls around the tongue.

No Last Line
This prose poem is a paean to New York pre 9/11: to New Yorkers through history, and to what the future would bring. The unmentioned twin towers echo through the poem: ‘freedom and comfort’, ‘splendour and wealth’, ‘pain and experience’.

Commended

Inelastic Scattering
A clever every-line-rhymed poem about the seismic impact upon a young women’s life, of a sexual assault that has been hushed up by those around her, ‘…they said “over-dramatic”/ when they didn’t say lie…’

Harbour
A surreal poem about a different kind of traumatic event, a flood, and the resultant depersonalisation it has upon the narrator.

A Certain Kind of Death
I liked the rhythm and internal rhyming of this poem, this story of an execution of a woman has a great opening line.

Special Mentions

About Light
This is a touching poem about the mental and physical effects of Parkinson’s and love. It is full of great lines. It hooked from beginning to end.

Something Lurks
Great first line, and fabulous descriptions in this surreal poem about the sea, and our relationship with it.

Unknown Me
I am not a fan of villanelles, they have to be good to work and so often fall short of the target, this one however works. I was impressed by this tale of an affair with a married man told from the point of view of the mistress, who is not completely at ease with the situation; she fears ‘this unknown me’. It also contains some lovely double play on words ‘Our conscience lies, completely overthrown’.

The Results

Special Mentions

Jude Neale – About Light
Annest Gwilym – Something Lurks
Fiona Dye – Unknown Me

Commended

Robert Kibble – Inelastic Scattering
Amy Butler – Harbour
Anne Sheppard – A Certain Kind of Death

Highly commended

John Gallas – How to make a Chough: an Origami poem
Mark Stopforth – Moth
Julie Anne Gilligan – No Last Line

Third Prize
Lisa Reily – Doctor’s Bag

Second Prize
Therese Adams – Love, The Name

First prize
Robbie Frazer – Crunching on bones

The specially mentioned, commended, highly commended and prize-winning poems will be published in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Magazine on 31st July, 2018

To enter the current Sentinel Literary Quarterly Competition visit the competition page.

Three poems by Janet Murray

Brock

Whacked onto frosty grass,
his fur coat’s soaked in melting ice
but his teeth don’t chatter. His tribal stripe’s there,
tapering arse curved to stumpy tail, muscly shoulders
bolted to giant feet, tipped with muddy claws.
I turn him with both hands, ruffle the fur along his spine,
part thin hair combed over belly-skin,
expose two pink studs, his baby nipples.
They prickle my DNA.

How to write a conceptual poem

Don’t just watch the bees
building in the crevices of your house ―
see the house from inside the cracks
through bee-eyes. Cast thin chasms
with cold cure rubber, squeeze out the mould
like jelly-on-a-plate, fill with black bronze,
bash the crumples, create a petrified meta-script.
Bend into a hopscotch, lay on a pavement
number the squares with chalk, throw
a small cinder ― follow it― jump between edges
judder the mortar and erase it again.

Fold A4 paper, then scalpel-cut
an Amazon journey along the crease, unfold
and cruise a picture-poem ― melt a silver teaspoon
pull a metal skein, spin the tallest story so it crashes down
the full length of Niagara. Search the margins
of old books, find the stain of an ancient flood,
give it centre-stage and re-invent again.

Slash your forearm, forge the blood
into alphabet shapes. Read the letter A aloud
or a word containing A which can’t sprout
from the ground without the pollen-dusting
that attracts the bees and, unlike the bees, resist
the scent of orange blossom wafting through the flues.

A boy and his dog
(Byron at Newstead Abbey)

A boy limps round a gargoyled quad
kicking Autumn crocuses, runs
after Woolly his dog whose mother
was a wolf. The boy always lags behind
because of his damaged foot. They rest
by the Mirror Pond, he trails fingers
for the carp to nibble, regards his reflection.
He eats a bag of figs and peaches picked
from the North wall, and watches wrens flying
round walnut trees. He keeps the Abbey ruins
in sight where he daydreams monks flitting
in and out of cloisters, their faces hidden
by hoods; smells the fragrance of the lavender
garden wafting from their robes, gives names
― Harold, Manfred ― to the satyrs made of lead,
who stand either side of the orangery.

Janet Murray is a Northerner. She grew up in Lancashire and has spent a large part of her life in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. She completed an MA in Writing (with Merit) at Sheffield Hallam University in 2016, and previously gained a BA Hons in English at King’s College London. She has worked as a Senior Manager in public service. Her interests are in visual art and people. These, she says, are her landscape.

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Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2018)

For original, previously unpublished poems in English language on any subject, in any style up to 50 lines long. Closing Date: 31st May 2018 Judge: Derek Adams Prizes: £250 (1st), £100 (2nd), £50 (3rd), £30 x 3 (High Commendation), £15 … Continue reading






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Poem by Audrey Ardern-Jones

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Poem by Gabriel Griffin

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Poem by Marion Hobday

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Poem by Lesley Burt

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Poem by Pamela Scobie

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Poem by Laura Potts

The Wise Child I remember he fled from the fogdrop moors with the dawn and the bells of December beyond, calling morning to the streets while winter wept beneath the trees. A sleeping me before the door glowed on behind … Continue reading