Category Archives: Sentinel Champions

A Certain Kind of Death – poem by Anne Sheppard

A Certain Kind of Death

She stands in awe of her predicament,
Tight bound and balanced on a precipice,
As hecklers crowd around
Like swords to cut her down.

Soft shoes wet now with effluent that runs,
No chance to hide her fear, the
Gutter tribe around her sneer,
There is the stink of disillusionment.

The precious seconds ticking by,
Each one counted by the scribe,
Until the hangman makes his move,
Feted and regaled a hero by the crowd.

She trembles as she feels the noose
He places round her neck.
Warm breath upon her cheek he speaks,
Soft now, she strains to hear but then no more

For mere distraction as the trapdoor swings;
She feels the drop, the dislocation of her neck,
As darkness moves to cover her,
But not before she hears the cheering of the mass.

A Certain Kind of Death by ANNE SHEPPARD was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2018) judged by Derek Adams

Harbour – poem by Amy Butler


There are strangers in our house now.
They’re parked in the driveway, but
It’s the same stone my father laid,
And re-laid when it fell through that Winter.

The flood took our home. Luckily,
It left the house intact.
Anchor. Bricks and mortar.

The pictures keep falling off the wall.
I wonder if they know I’m on my way out.

Still the strangers stand at the door.
They wear our clothes and eat our food.
They wait for the pictures to fall.
They want to paint the walls.

Photos float ahead of me
Out of reach.

The ocean sits at the harbour.
He’s been waiting all Summer
Where the water sings beneath my skin.

‘Harbour’ by Amy Butler was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2018) judged by Derek Adams.

Inelastic Scattering – poem by Robert Kibble

Inelastic Scattering

If a particle collides and loses energy, that’s inelastic
scattering; where one is slowed down, caught, despite its frantic
efforts to keep going, until it becomes automatic
for it to continue, trying to put behind it the traumatic
events it’s been through, trying to forget the attic
where the particle of my life went through the dramatic
change caused by my boyfriend, the charismatic
star of the class, the straight-A guy, the mathematic
genius. So, when I said what he’d done, they said “over-dramatic”
when they didn’t say lie, or my trembling was “psychosomatic”,
and even my friends said I’d bounce back, like the elastic
particles we’d read of, but for me more problematic
was recovering. They told me to be diplomatic,
not make a fuss, not ruin a life with fantastic
promise. So, I was left with lost energy, my scattering inelastic,
my changes seem permanent, and so drastic.
My mood gone from bubbly, to withdrawn and sarcastic.
My nights spent at home, or increasingly frantic
desires to be so, and unlike the elastic
I’m told I should be. I’m more like the plastic
that bent once remains so, broken and tragic.
I go on, switched now to full automatic.
Just buck up, they say, an insulting tactic
for me: a broken and now inelastic
and scattered body. Because of that attic.

‘Inelastic Scattering’ by Robert Kibble was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2018) judged by Derek Adams.

Something Lurks – poem by Annest Gwilym

Something Lurks

We walk by your side in the silence of crabs
as your mocking laughter ripples
the sea’s crypt. Too close, your mud-flesh
sucks at our feet, sinks them
with sly sips, sucks and swallows.

Your distilled Cretaceous soup is home
to one who drums his fingers in the dark,
jaws snapping in the tunnelling depths.
Long reachings taste children’s legs,
unaware of a huge digestion in the deep.

We bring you gifts of skimmed stones,
cigarette ends, plastic bottles and bags.
You give us the ruin of shells,
vomit a brown yeasty froth,
spit out bodies of the drowned.

During high tides and storms
your fingers reach up our garden paths,
sneak under doors into our houses.
And at night your tentacles whittle down
the star-draped heavens.

‘Something Lurks’ by Annest Gwilym received a Special Mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2018) judged by Derek Adams

‘About Light’ – poem by Jude Neale

About Light

I could have died on this road alone
but for the fever of your touch.

You pull crusts off my naked loneliness

and lessen this wake I drag
behind me like a stillborn.

You name my doddering illness
that hides in a bucket of shame.

I’m sorry I forget how to think
about light, trapped

curious curled words
clasped in my trembling hands.

I hope you will love me
despite endings

when I don’t die with longing,

I don’t even die for your lips
to press like wet poppies
onto my white waxen face.

In the end we carry nothing but stones
and skinned knees down to the river.

Bruised and broken we aren’t afraid.
We teeter onto one another’s empty stage

arms suspended like angels before the fall.

‘About Light’ by Jude Neale received a Special Mention in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2018) judged by Derek Adams.

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.

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’.


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…’

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


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.


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Poem by Gabriel Griffin

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Poem by Sandra Galton

Unrequited I walk into a room and the way you pull back a chair for yourself tells me how afraid you are of hurting it. I say are we two peas in a pod? and you stare like there’s never … Continue reading


Poem by Marion Hobday

Bird in Me 1. Candle the shell of me, there’s the fledgling trapped inside. It took a long time to chip my way out. I stretched my baby bird beak wide to the world, featherless, ravenous, insatiable. 2. You know … Continue reading