Tag Archives: Poetry

Anthony Watts to judge Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017)

Anthony Watts

Anthony Watts

We are pleased to announce that Anthony Watts will judge the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017). The competition which is open to all poets living in any part of the world will open on 6th March and close on the 31st of May.

Watts has been writing ‘seriously’ for over 40 years and has had poems published in magazines and anthologies in addition to four published collections: Strange Gold (KQBX Press, 1991), The Talking Horses of Dreams (Iron Press, 1999), Steart Point (John Garland, 2009) and The Shell Gatherer (Oversteps, 2011).   He has won prizes in poetry competitions and his poems have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and Somerset Sound.  Rural Somerset has been his home for most of his life and he has no plans to leave it.  His main interests in life are poetry, music, thinking and messing about outdoors.


Two poems by A.J. Huffman




            after Daisy Games by Vladamir Kush


Innocent white

                         petals huddle deeper

among the red,

prick themselves on residential thorns.

Blood falls in cadence, turns the world

to blush.  He loved me

not.  In the alien scent of ostentation,

the common weed weeps,


on falling

stars for heavenly fingers to grant reprieve,

grasp body and roots and wrench

it from this garden that has always felt far

more like Hell.




The obscenities of my life stick

in my throat like glue, choking

me blind.  I have lost my ability to hear

the sound of my own sanity.  I have become

a cacophony of regret, bottled up

inside a soundproof booth.  I am a 33 being

played at the speed of a 45, out of sync. 

I cannot find my groove, only the drag

of that damned needle that has taken my voice,

turned it into something less than background



A.J. Huffman has published eleven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her new poetry collection, Another Blood Jet, is now available from Eldritch Press.  She has three more poetry collections forthcoming: A Few Bullets Short of Home from mgv2 publishing, Degeneration from Pink Girl Ink, and A Bizarre Burning of Bees from Transcendent Zero Press.  She is a Multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, and has published over 2100 poems in various national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, and Kritya. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com


Froths – a poem by David Ishaya Osu



my furs

                        froth as malt milks

                                    when your salt

                                                strokes my tongue

            when your rains

                        funnel into my mouth

                                    flooding its roof

            your spring leaves

                        are a sofa

                                    for my limping shadows


David Ishaya Osu (b. 1991) is a Nigerian poet. His poems have appeared in several national dailies and online journals including: African Writer, The New Black Magazine,  Gobbet Magazine, and elsewhere. He is also a street photography enthusiast.


Visiting Elsa Whitt – a poem by Tom McDade






The twine thin woman reels calmly

about, arranging her lifelike wares

on a carpet of bonded burlap bags.

These are not children’s toys. 

The tallest, about five-foot-five

under a wounded tartan parasol.

A calligraphic sign on a stand

at her feet is like one marking

a garden plot, names her Elsa Whitt.

She dons clothes of another time,

brown bonnet, shawl, bell-shaped gown. 

Cheeks puffed and blushed she’s locked

in place pushing a wicker pram with one

square wheel and Elsa looks so

damned genuine, let her find

a door ajar and she will lopsidedly 

brave the damaged cobblestones. 

The baby, wearing a moth-hurt bib

is a pond reflection of her mom. 

A notice across her plaid blanket

Says she won’t wet, whine or cry.

Is this a mausoleum vault, pyramid

or merely a haunted space? 

A breathing corn-eyed cat atop

a china case filled with doll heads,

rags and limbs strikes a Cairo pose.

Is this sparse proprietor

chopping a finger at two harlequins sitting

cross-legged on a settee, a ventriloquist 

a puppeteer or just an addled hobbyist?

A musty tulip of silk is in the hand of the chubbier

delinquent while the other’s head tilts

heavily as if just slapped.

A music box plays a handful of notes

but not enough to liven or endear.

With the scratch of a match, a scented

candle flickers then leaps

at a bride and groom under glass.

A yellowed newspaper on the floor

tells of a formal wear shop arson,

a proud manikin with singed tails survived.

Instead of asking: “May I help you?”

The owner says, “You may help me.”

Offering a broom that clears

browsers out the door like straw

her free arm pivots robotically

to halt Elsa’s sneaky pram.


Thomas Michael McDade is retired computer programmer living in Fredericksburg, VA with his wife. He is a graduate of Fairfield University. McDade served two tours of duty in the U.S. Navy. He has recently had fiction published Gadfly Magazine and poetry in Ink, Sweat & Tears.



Prize your poetry here

Homeless – a poem by Madison Austin






Outside in the dark where life has no meaning

Outside in the cold my life is stark

Outside in the dark there is a desperate child within me

Outside in the cold where you pass me by

Outside in the dark where your eyes meet mine

Outside in the cold no-one is coming for me

Outside in the dark where all the cries of pain are all mine

Outside in the cold my mood is heavy and dark as the sky

Outside in the dark my life has no beginning no joy.


Her publication credits include United Press UK Anthology book The Loudest Whisper and National Poetry Anthology. One of her poems will appear in an Eber and Wein Publishers USA book called Beyond the Sea. Work will also be featured in a collection of poems to be published by Forward poetry Publishers UK . She is a member of the Canadian Federation of Poets .




What is courtesy?

You love someone and marry another

Or else

You’d be ashamed and I embarrassed

Fake smile everywhere

Courtesy in pretence

Yet we need it

There is enmity

Enough fights and distrust

Among friends and couples

To start creating new

What are manners?

The only fabric we wrap each other

Or else

You’d be ashamed and I embarrassed

Fake gestures everywhere

Manners in pretence

Yet we need it

There is understanding

Enough to live outdoors

Among friends and enemies

To return home in peace


Mazhun Idris is an artist, writer and blogger who lives in northern Nigeria.



Mandy Pannett

I found it extra difficult this time to select nine poems – not because the chosen ones aren’t brilliant, they most certainly are – but because there were so many others that ‘came close’, that demanded to be noticed. I started making a list of them to be included in this report but in the end decided not to because there are many.

A number of poets used the technique of line end rhyme. This, I think, is incredibly hard to do well. So often the chosen rhyme is not the best one – it may sound alright and be pleasing to the ear but may not be the best word to convey meaning and emotion. Poems that worked best in this competition, where the poet was keen on using rhyme, was where enjambment reduced the doggerel effect or where the rhymes were ‘looser’ – as in several of the sonnets which I found very effective.

A number of themes recurred throughout the entries. Many concerned personal experiences, families, relationships, the pain of love and loss, assumptions, hope and disillusion. Memory was a strong theme, collective memory and connections with the past as well as the individual and present. Many strong poems described landscape and the natural world and there was an emphasis on Earth as unsustainable, under threat. Imagery conveyed strong feelings and profound thought in poems about war, sickness and malignancy.

This competition brought me a bagful of poems rich in variety and complexity. Here, after a lot of thought and indecision, is my selection.

1st prize: The Terminology of Bells by Mike Bannister

This poem caught my attention from the very first reading. It is a poem about memory and time with the bell terminology skilfully intermingled with descriptions of the setting and matching the mood of each passing moment. I love the sense of place it creates – the names of towns and rivers and the lyrical details of fish and water birds – but I have mainly chosen it as my winner because of the perfect and bell-like musicality of it all. Who could fail to appreciate the poem’s beginning? ‘Sally stroke: early morning, neither a dog bark/nor cuckoo call, only that distant, melancholy peal/a deep-rolling tonnage of bronze’. Or this later stanza? ‘Go: the heart hunting now, headstock and chamber/back behind the tears, for one born by Michaelmas,/who slept in a drawer; was told, and would believe/that the bees sang in the hive at Christmastide.’

2nd prize: The Catastrophe Tapes by Seán Street

An outstanding poem. Comes into my personal category of ‘I wish I’d written it!’ Intriguing and highly original it takes the idea of having a jumble of words and thoughts from a medieval battlefield somehow ‘recorded’ in an ‘old technology’ and left for us to decipher and interpret if we can. The Battle of Towton was one of the most ferocious of the Wars of the Roses, lasting ten hours in a snowstorm so that the white ground afterwards was stained for miles with blood. An idea close to my heart, this connection of the past with the present, the idea of atmosphere and vibrations being forever contained in objects and settings. This poem, however, goes beyond that. To me it reads as all wars, all atrocities. The horrors of Towton are echoed in the trenches, in the rubble of Syria. An incredibly profound poem which leaves us with desperate questions and pleas: ‘surely someone will listen?’, ‘Are you hearing any of this?’, ‘it may matter/ someday, they may need to know it’.

3rd prize: Finger-Wing by Yvonne Reddick

Quotation and commentary cannot do justice to this brilliant poem that uses language so skilfully and to the full. The poet, on a chilly day, is looking at clouds, blows on his fists to warm them and feels ‘the scrunched membranes/that mesh my fingers/and remembers how ‘pterodactyl/means finger-wing’. From this imagery of membranes and bones other associations come fast – the poet notices ‘the sludgy hulk of a decomposing pigeon’, remembers how his/her grandmother was ‘bird-bone hollow, all ribstrakes and wing-scaffold … knuckly birdleg fingers.’ There are further incredible risks with language: the granny’s cremation is described lyrically as ‘plume-cinder ash…The south-easterly hush-hushed it north’, but then we have a line of harsh consonants ‘I interred the pigeon’s slimy reek in a skip’ followed by the quotation ‘le fruit de vos entrailles est béni’ – a direct reference to the Annunciation, a miraculous birth in contrast to this imagery of death and putrefaction.

Highly Commended: Quince Zone by Dominic James

This is another poem that stayed with me from the first reading. Maybe there are underlying themes – identity, awareness, selection, discrimination, even sacrifice – but I chose this poem for its humour, detail and the perfect ‘voice’ of it whereby the ragged quince on a tree in an apple orchard is personified with ‘warty limbs’ and begs the onlooker to pluck it from the tree so that more fruit may grow. The language is conversational and colloquial but with a lyrical Shakesperian touch – ‘a summer comes’ says the quince, ‘oh ,pluck my fruit,/at night the stars smile through me.’ An irresistible poem.

Highly Commended: We Are All Waters by Shittu Fowora

An enigmatic poem which requires many readings to fully appreciate its layers and depths. This suits me perfectly – I enjoy ‘working’ a poem, teasing out associations and subtleties of meaning. Water in a multitude of forms is used here as the central metaphor for the repeated idea ‘There is no ‘you’, or ‘I’, save ‘we’. Identities merge in the universal, waters ‘variously hued’ may be seen in rain, fresh water, dirty water, puddles, in pots for cooking, tears, clouds, droplets, cesspools, icebergs, ponds – and all these aspects collect ‘the geography of the places you’ve been to’, share love, fear, tranquillity, troubles, ‘percolate the crevices between rocks and questions.’

Highly Commended: Chilson Founder’s Day Harvest Festival by Michelle Bonczek Evory

The narrator in this poem has been ‘camping/in a strange land’ where, for days, there has been ‘a sopping mess’ of ‘rain and thunder, wind whipping leaves’, where even the chipmunks have been ‘washed out their burrows’. Now the sun is out and an assortment of people gather for the celebration. A delightful poem which I chose for several reasons: its effective use of enjambment, the clear and detailed imagery – I particularly love ‘a silver oven/waiting, for the body of a hog to be spun in its space/like a planet too close to a star’ – but most of all for the small, ordinary, incidental aspects of the day: the names of people and places, phrases of overheard conversation, the baked potato ‘still hot in its aluminium wrapper’, the red-haired brothers licking sour cream ‘from their white plastic forks’. Pleasure on this day may be transient but while it lasts it is real and good.

Commended: Mobius by Alison J Powell

I must confess to a touch of subjectivity here as a poem that ‘plays’ with language and uses techniques of circularity, reversal and repetition will always catch my interest. When it is crafted as beautifully and skilfully as ‘Mobius’ it is guaranteed to find its way on to my winners’ list. Here the poet uses the metaphor of a dance to create the ‘infinite loop’ of a courtship with its spiral of resistance, pursuit, delusion, hopes, tears and dreams culminating in ‘the joining of edges’ as the couple ‘cut loose and flew/Dancing.’ A clever and memorable poem.

Commended: Liturgies by Anthony Watts

I find this sonnet incredibly moving. An adult remembers himself as a child playing at being a priest. Here ‘a patterned hearthrug’ served as a church, the swing of the censer could be mimed, the altar was a shoebox with ‘pencils stuck in cotton-reels for candles.’ This was a vulnerable child searching for something beyond the tangible and inarticulate and this is a vulnerable adult too, still yearning, still on the quest for something more, for an ‘Everywhere’. An incredible poem that suggests so much in a few lines.

Commended: After by Julian Dobson

Many poems describe the horrors of war, the anguish of loss, the aftermath of brutality. This short poem is one of the most effective and poignant I’ve read. With carefully selected details and the technique of understatement the poet takes us into the debris of a market where starving people ‘scour’ for food where ‘lemons/rot in shattered boxes’ and flies ‘signal what might still/be edible.’ So far a fairly typical depiction of devastation. But there are more horrors in this scene, an almost casual mention of ‘legs’ which are ‘not of goats or sheep’ and then these lines which will stay with me for a long time: ‘To eat, you must not search too hard./The stomach will not digest/some discoveries.’

mandy pannett

Mandy Pannett. January 2015

All the Invisibles, the powerful poetry collection by Mandy Pannett is available at amazon.co.uk and amazon.com

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2015) judged by Noel Williams is now accepting entries

First Prize: £200

Second Prize: £75

Third Prize: £50

Highly Commended: 3 X £20

Enter online or by post here


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

Álvaro Fierro

Why the Gold Passes Away

I don’t recall
why the gold passes away,

in what seesawing of the water it swoons

when the translucency pulls it down

from its airborne channels

and it lapses in a shiver,


why it decides to fade away

until the following light

without letting even this plea

past my lovesick lips,


why it abandons its ages,

its reasons

and sets off to beneath the surface

of the attentive gaze


just as if it desired to store up its glories

in ancient coffers

that everyone who has looked upon them

leaves at the doors of the inexpressible,


why it dreams in its tombs,

why it doesn’t stop resounding

when the painter finishes the canvas.


Translations (2013) Steve Cranfield and Claudio Tedesco from The Glance in the Water (La mirada en el agua) (2013)

Alvaro Fierro SLQ