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Results and Judge’s Report – Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2015)

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Judge’s Report By Oz Hardwick   I didn’t think to count the number of poems with which I started – it was the sort of pile I’d be more inclined to weigh than count, anyway – but after careful and … Continue reading


Closing date: 30th November 2013


These competitions are for original, previously unpublished poems and short stories in English Language, in any style, up to 50 lines long (poems) or 2000 words long (stories). Writers of all nationalities living in any part of the world are eligible to enter.


Prizes in each category: £500 (First), £250 (Second), £125 (Third) and £25 x 5 (High Commendation)


Judges: Roger Elkin (Poetry), David Caddy (Fiction)


Have you written a winning poem or story that can take one of the prizes in the £2000 prize pot?  Enter it today online or download an Entry Form at www.sentinelpoetry.org.uk/sawc  


The Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition is now in its 4th year, the short story competition in its 2nd year. For information on fees, terms and conditions visit the web pages of the Sentinel Annual Writing Competitions (SAWC) www.sentinelpoetry.org.uk/sawc


Organised by Sentinel Poetry Movement – the international community of writers and artists…since December 2002

– a style of Sentinel Writing & Publishing Company Ltd


In this message:
1. June 2013 entries sent to judges
2. September 2013 competitions judged by Todd Swift and Alex Keegan now accepting entries


All entries in the June 2013 Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry & Short Story Competitions have now been sent to the judges Claire Askew (poetry) and Brindley Hallam Dennis (short stories). We recorded 180 poems and 95 short stories this quarter. We are pleased with this level of participation and support at this time. Although we recorded 83 poems less than we received in March, the good news is that we received 38 short stories more than we recorded in March. Thank you very much for your continued support of our competitions.

The results will be announced on the 31st of July in Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine website, sentinel poetry movement website, and via this newsletter.


For original, previously unpublished poems in English language on any subject, in any style up to 50 lines long.
Closing Date: 30th September, 2013
Judge: Todd Swift
Prizes: £150 (1st), £75 (2nd), £50 (3rd), £10 x 3 (High Commendation)
Fees: £4/1, £7/2, £9/3, £11/4, £12/5, £16/7, £22/10

For original, previously unpublished short stories in English language on any subject, in any style up to 1500 words long.
Closing Date: 30th September, 2013
Judge: Alex Keegan
Prizes: £150 (1st), £75 (2nd), £50 (3rd), £10 x 3 (High Commendation)
Fees: £5/1, £8/2, £10/3, £12/4

Poetry & Short Story Competitions (June 2013) – Sentinel Literary Quarterly

The June 2013 poetry and short story competitions judged by Claire Askew and Brindley Hallam Dennis respectively will close on the 30th of June.


Details: These competitions are for original, previously unpublished poems up to 50 lines long and short stories up to 1,500 words long. Stories and poems may be on any subjects and in any style. Authors of all nationalities living in any part of the world are eligible to enter. The Sentinel Literary Quarterly competitions have been run successfully every 3 months since July 2009 (Poetry) and January 2010 (Short Stories).


Prize money in each category: £150 (first), £75 (2nd), £50 (3rd) and £10 x 3 (high commendation). The winning and commended poems and stories also receive first publication in Sentinel Literary Quarterly which appears in print, eBook and online. (See current issue at www.sentinelquarterly.com)


Entry Fees (Poetry): 4/1 poem, £7/2 poems, £9/3 poems, £11/4 poems, £12/5 poems, £16/7 poems, £22/10 poems.


Entry Fees (Short Stories): £5/1 story, £8/2 stories, £10/3 stories, £12/4 stories.


How to enter: You may enter online or by post. Enter online, save time and save on postage costs. Pay securely by PayPal and submit your work by e-mail, or print off entry forms at these locations:


Poetry: http://sentinelquarterly.com/competitions/poetry/

Short Stories: http://sentinelquarterly.com/competitions/short-stories/


Full details of the Sentinel Literary Quarterly writing competitions can be found at www.sentinelquarterly.com/competitions

If you have any questions regarding any aspect of our competitions please by all means ask Sandra Felix, the Competitions Secretary by writing to competitions@sentinelpoetry.org.uk


Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (March 2013)

Oz HardwickClosing Date: 31-March-2013

For original, previously unpublished poems in English Language on any subject, in any style, up to 50 lines long (excluding title). Poems entered should also not be entered into another competition running at the same time. Poets of all nationalities living in any part of the world are eligible to enter.

Prizes: £150 (First), £75 (Second), £50 (Third), £10 x 3 (High Commendation).

Publication: The winners and commended poems will receive first publication in Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine.

Fees: £4/1 poem, £7/2 poems, £9/3 poems, £11/4 poems, £12/5 poems, £16/7 poems, £22/10 poems.

Judge: Oz Hardwick

Enter online and pay securely by PayPal or download an Entry Form for postal entry at:


Send Cheques/Postal orders payable to SENTINEL POETRY MOVEMENT with poems, Entry Form or Cover Note to Sentinel Poetry Movement, Unit 136, 113-115 George Lane, South Woodford, London E18 1AB, United Kingdom.

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry & Short Story Competitions, closing date extended.

Happy New Year all.

Please note that the closing date for Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition judged by Noel Williams and Short Story Competition judged by Clare Girvan has been extended from 31st December, 2012 to 21st January, 2013. This is in response to messages from several of our supporters who believed that the closing date of 31st December was too close to our annual competitions which closed on the 30th of November, and they needed more time to enter competition-ready work. We agree, hence this three-week extension.

This means that the results will now be announced on the 28th of February 2013.

To enter the competition now, please go to www.sentinelquarterly.com/competitions

Judge’s Report, SLQ Poetry Competition (April 2012)


An adjudication report


Miles Cain


Why do we write poetry? There are lots of reasons: self-expression probably tops the list for most of us, followed by a desire to grow as people: writing is a form of exploration, of working out what is important to us. Poets are intent on the big themes: we dwell on birth, growth, love, and (very often), life’s shadow side – the themes of pain, loss, grief and the awareness of our own mortality feature in poetry frequently. Poetry is a form of consolation, but it can be witty, funny and sexy too. Every facet of human life is explored through poetry.


How we express these things, however, requires great care. The old adage ‘the devil is in the detail’ is especially true of writing. Writers who take care over every line and sentence are more likely to create strong work than those who don’t. In this competition, there were a number of entries that hadn’t looked closely enough at their own work. Some poems were poorly punctuated, with apostrophes used incorrectly, or contained spelling errors. Some sentences were long but had no commas. Correct use of commas and full stops is a basic requirement of decent writing.


Another common fault is cliché. Writers must learn to get rid of any elements of their work that may seem to be lazy. In the poems I read, there were several phrases which lacked originality, or came close to laziness. It sounds so obvious, but it’s important to think about the work. It’s when we stop thinking that we are more likely to include worn out expressions. Ezra Pound urged writers to ‘make it new’. This is not easy, but the rewards will be great lines that are fresh and enriching for the reader. In the entries I read, there were phrases such as ‘…you just ache to hold your loved one…’; ‘…sweep it under the carpet…’; ‘…the patience of a saint…’;  ‘…struck dumb…’; ‘…derring-do…’; ‘…a godforsaken place…’; ‘…a heavy price to pay…’; ‘…enemy ground…’; ‘…life hangs by a tiny thread…’; ‘…swaying in the breeze…’;  ‘…the stillness of the night…’  (etc). Such phrases come easily because we are so used to them, but good writing ignores worn out lines and replaces them with something fresh. I ruled out any poems with clichés in.


Another common fault, especially for less experienced writers, is to over-write a poem. Writers think they’re being smart by cramming in words of phrases that are redundant. Here’s a phrase from one of the poems in this competition: ‘…a sun blanched shaft of light gold edged warms us…’ Writing like this is confusing for the reader. Take out anything that clogs up the poem. Less is more. An example is William Carlos Williams’ great poem This is just to say – it’s simple and touching. In many of the poems I read, stricter self-editing would have helped. It’s like enjoying a good meal. A dish with four items on the plate is more enjoyable than a dish with twenty.


One way to improve, and to kill off the cliché, is to read widely. It’s important to investigate all the great writers of the last 50 years to get a feel for how poetry works. I can’t provide a universal list here, but names such as Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Philip Larkin, Carol Ann Duffy, Simon Armitage, Jean Sprackland, Clare Pollard and Matthew Sweeney spring to mind. If you’re a bit skint, pester your local library – they often have access to a range of poetry. Or get hold of an anthology of modern poetry. (I recommend Emergency Kit, edited by Matthew Sweeney and Jo Shapcott. It’s a fabulous collection).


There were recurring themes, including the passage of time, ageing, mortality and the changes of the seasons. Several poems focused on tragic accidents or untimely deaths. A number were inspired by paintings. Several writers expressed concerns about ecology and man-made pollution. While I was sympathetic to these concerns, I could hear the famous quote from John Keats ringing in my ears: ‘We hate poetry that has a palpable design on us…’ 


Many of the poems used the rhyming form, which is very hard to get right. Sophie Hannah and Wendy Cope are great poets who use rhyme, but I felt some of the poems I read fell into the trap of letting the rhyme lead the intention or meaning of the poem, something that often happens with rhyming poems.


A number of poems had ambition and intention but I felt they were one dimensional. I was looking for something with subtlety. Mystery and surprise are key elements of good poetry, and to overlook these is to halve the power of the form. Philip Larkin’s The Whitsun Weddings is a wonderful example – the end of the poem becomes something mysterious and elegiac.


I was asked to choose nine commended entries. These were as follows:


Commended Poems:


Hot Night – simple and effective, I wished more poems in the competition shared the elegant simplicity of this poem.


Safe Journey – this was one of the few rhyming poems that worked well. The funny punchline made me smile.


Dictionaries – this poem is already strong, but with some careful editing could be something very special. The image of burning dictionaries and burning language is a powerful one.


Justin – this is a poem that avoids cliché and uses language in a fresh and powerful way.


Fleet – one of several poems that dealt with tragic circumstances. The power of this poem lies in what is not expressed.

Mousetraps – another poem that is simple and elegant. The poem expresses the anxiety of its female character very well.


Beneath The Bridge – an intriguing poem, perhaps inspired by the three Billy Goats Gruff? I liked the air of menace present in this piece.


Queen – This monologue from the perspective of a mummified woman has a great line that shows the horror of her situation: ‘my hooked womb and brain flung in a bucket’. Wow!


Migrants – a good poem about migrating birds. A lack of sentimentality gives this poem added muscle.


Highly Commended Poems:


Feeling the wood of Father’s bequeathed desk.


A powerful poem focusing on the importance of intimacy, love and physical contact. (I agree with this writer. Talk to each other. Hug each other. Life is short.) However, it wasn’t only the sentiment that struck a chord with me. The details here work well: ‘my freckled hand’ and ‘the smell of your starched shirt’ lend an authority to the author’s writing.




This poem has some excellent images. I liked the way the gutter becomes ‘a gorgoyle, incontinent’ – a clever image that avoids cliché and gains the reader’s attention. This poem is full of atmosphere.




A strong poem about family and time passing. The image of Grandma’s hands ‘gritty like sandpaper’ is very effective.



First Prize Winner


Vinyl Junkie


I re-read this poem several times. Each time, its qualities appealed a little more. Its precision is terrific, and the way it uses the senses (the ‘thumbnail-slit cellophane’, ‘180 grams, black and pure’) is excellent.  Unlike many of the other poems, it never mentions ‘I’, ‘You’ etc, but confidently shares the experience of devotion to records.  This is well constructed writing and precisely expressed.



Second Prize Winner


The Secret Of Small Strawberries


This is a moving poem, focusing, as good poems often do, on a small moment with a subtle expression of emotion. Its poignancy comes from the fact that the writer has obviously experienced this moment (the same goes for the first prize winner) and, again, the details are great, especially the eyes of the woman ‘glazed cataract blue’. I loved the compassion and tenderness in this poem.


Third Prize Winner


Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait aged 63


This was one of the best of several strong poems in the competition. The sentence beginning ‘But he was doing…’ could do with some editing, as it is ten lines long, and should be split into smaller sentences. However, there’s no denying the power of the final lines, examining Rembrandt’s ‘bone-black suffering eyes and padlocked mouth’.


Miles Cain



The Border by Miles Cain is available from amazon.co.uk

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2012). Closing Date: 20 June, 2012. Judge: Will Daunt. Enter here.

Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2012. Closing Date: 30 November 2012. Judge: Roger Elkin. Enter here.

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SLQ Poetry and Short Story Competitions April 2012 Results

April 2012 Results

We are pleased to announce the results of the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry and Short Story Competitions for April 2012 judged by Miles Cain (poetry) and Kate Horsley (stories).


The 9 commended poems in no particular order are:

‘Justin’ – Christian Ward

‘Fleet’ – Simon Jackson

‘Mousetraps’ – Rosemary Kirk

‘Beneath the Bridge’ – Oz Hardwick

‘Queen’ – Terry Jones

‘Dictionaries’ – Terry Jones

‘Safe Journey’ – Eilidh Thomas

‘Hot Night’ – Diana Mason

The 3 highly commended poems in no particular order are:

‘Feeling the Wood of Father’s Bequeated Desk’ – E.K. Wall

‘Lamplight’ – David Jones

‘Snapshot’ – Valley Girl

Third Prize

‘Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait aged 63’ – Lynn Roberts

Second Prize

‘The Secret of Small Strawberries’ – Claire Cox

First Prize

‘Vinyl Junkie’ – Oz Hardwick

Sentinel Champions Subscription Giveaway

The poet that receives 1 year’s free subscription to Sentinel Champions magazine prefers not to publish his name online.


The 3 highly commended short stories are in no particular order:

‘Nature or Nurture’ – Charles Johnson

‘The Split Second’ – Fiona Barr

‘Guilt Sweets’ – Julia Lacey Brooke

Third Prize

‘Sand’ – Brindley Hallam Dennis

Second Prize

‘The Naked Fisherman’ – Leo Madigan

First Prize

‘Duopoly’ – Sarah Evans

Sentinel Champions Subscription Giveaway

The short story writer that receives 1 year’s free subscription to Sentinel Champions magazine is Christina Fulford

All the winning and commended poems and short stories above will be published in Sentinel Champions in November 2012.

Congratulations to all the winners.



  The Short Story Competition for this quarter is judged by Dr Kate Horsley, an award-winning author and Creative Writing lecturer at Lancaster University. Total prize fund of £305.00 plus publishing opportunity. Click here to enter competition now.   The Poetry … Continue reading


Closing Date: 20th January 2012

We are giving away 2 annual subscriptions to our print competition magazine; Sentinel Champions.
One poet and one short story writer must win a year’s subscription. All you have to do is enter the competition as normal. All entrants to this quarter’s competition are automatically entered.

PRIZES: £150, £75, £50, AND £10 X 3 in each category + Publication in Sentinel Champions magazine.

Entry Fees: £3 per poem, £11 for 4 poems, £12 for 5 poems.
£4 per story, £10 for 3 stories & £12 for 4 stories.
Enter as many poems or stories as you wish.

Judges: David Caddy (Short Stories), Derek Adams (Poems)

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry & Short Story Competitions are held every 3 months and pays out £610.00 in Prize Money every quarter.

Enter online and pay securely with PayPal or download/print off Entry Forms (for Postal Entries) at www.sentinelquarterly.com/competitions