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Results and Judge’s Report, SLQ Poetry Competition October 2021

We are pleased to announce the results of the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2021) judged by Rachel Long.

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2021)
Judge’s report by RACHEL LONG

This has been such a rich experience. I have so enjoyed reading each entry. All were so varied. I feel like I’ve been on an extraordinary journey through the universe of each poem.

Here are my ‘winners’ and my comments on each below:

1st prize: Knocking Shop

This is a poem of empathy and exquisite range. It succeeds at being an intimate portrait of a specific experience, a childhood, a family life and history as well as absolutely achieving scope and range; the universality of growing up and understanding a complicated world, a poem, a whole lifetime rendered onto the page.

2nd prize: Maybe one day I will love you

A surreal and very real poem. A poem that gets to the grit of love.

3rd prize: Like you know Bolognese is slang for funny

What a brilliant meditation on the end of love/a relationship — unflinchingly and originally captured, so closely.

Highly Commended:

Bath Time: An immediate, active, present and heart-wrenching poem! A film in and of itself.

An Absent Father: The language in this poem is bright and fresh, ‘telephone box red’. The relationship rendered so stark and stunning. I was blown away by this!

Home Sweet Home: A real/surreal brilliant poem, that moves between realms and feeling to explore the home, the heart.


Night Talk: this poem remembers and knows what it is to fall and be in/under the state of love. Brilliantly, sensitively and surreally.

Perspectives: A masterclass in metaphoring noticing, the poetic eye.

Who Shall Wall/ Self from myself: A stunning poem, in premise, language, voice.

Special Mentions:

Pokemon in the Cemetery: A unique look at death/grief, and set against our relationship to gaming and ‘play’ — genius!

The Certainty of your Goodness: What a beautiful and otherworldly poem. A night boat of a poem into the mist of knowing.

Losing Tattoos like the Final Minutes of Twilight: A subline link and exploration made between inked skin, the nature of leaving, and the surreal.


1st Prize Knocking Shop by Melanie Banim (Liverpool, UK)
2nd Prize Maybe one day I will love you
by Mary Mulholland (London, UK)
3rd Prize Like you know Bolognese is slang for funny
by Mary Mulholland (London, UK)
Highly Commended Bath Time by Neil Elder (Middlesex, UK)
Highly Commended An Absent Father by Melanie Banim(Liverpool, UK)
Highly Commended Home Sweet Home 
by Eve Chancellor (Manchester, UK)
Commended Night Talk by Roberta Bassetti
(Summer Hill, Australia)
Commended Perspectives by D’Angelo (London, UK)
Commended Who Shall Wall/ Self from myself 
by Klara Hughes (Nicosia, Cyprus)
Special Mention: Pokemon in the Cemetery
by Clare Starling (London, UK)
Special Mention: The Certainty of your Goodness
by Hugo Jeudy (Paris, France)
Special Mention Losing Tattoos like the Final Minutes of
Twilight by D’Angelo(London, UK)

23rd October 2021

The nature of monstrosity and how scientific invention can be used for good or ill; the humiliation of women, loss and betrayal, the need for refuge and the urge for flight – these are all explored in the sequence of poems that make up ‘The Daedalus Files‘. But who was Daedalus? In the Greek myth he was a heart-broken father, creating wings that led to the drowning of his son, Icarus. But he was also a designer of statues that seemed lifelike and a labyrinth for the minotaur, a hybrid beast. Twists inside your soul/are well concealed. Was Daedalus inventor or villain? The Daedalus Files is a new book of poetry by Mandy Pannett – author of All the Invisibles, Bee Purple, Frost Hollow and Jongleur in the Courtyard.

By from SPM Publications | Buy from

Sentinel Champions Stories #2 – Mandy Pannett

The first time Mandy Pannett and Sentinel Literary Quarterly met was in July 2009. She entered our maiden competition judged by Bob Beagrie (author of Civil Insolences and Leasungspell) and Andy Willoughby (author of Tough and Between Stations). Mandy’s “The God of Allotments” won third prize in that competition. Andy and Bob wrote in their adjudication report that the choice of this poem as third prize winner was because of “…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.”

Mandy placing in that competition has led to a beautiful relationship which has seen her serve as Poetry Editor of Sentinel Literary Quarterly for five years, and editor of two anthologies published by SPM Publications, namely; Bridgewatcher and Other Poems (2013) in aid of the Psychiatry Research Trust and Poems for a Liminal Age (2015) in aid of Médecins Sans Frontières. Over the years, she has judged many of our competitions and likes to enter some herself when she is not judging. In October 2020 her poem “Enjoying Sunlight with John Donne in Derek Jarman’s Garden” was highly commended in the SLQ competition judged by Roger Elkin.


We were lovers for forty years.
Now you are dead.

Here on the allotment, others
will grow the scarlet runners, loving their blossom,
like you.

Why did we keep it a secret?
Guilt at reneging on vows?

Someone is threading up silver CDs in a bid to frighten the birds.
“mirrors for pigeons,” you’d say.

I don’t even know if they scattered your ashes or when.

Remember our shed – how we’d pretend
to be sorting out seeds and the door would casually

At times I thought the walls themselves would collapse.

Shall I go down to our pond?
That very last time it was covered in scum.
You said it was hot, kept coughing-

Were you dying and I didn’t know?

There’s no-one to talk to now, about you.
Only the god of allotments,
if he is in.

We always thought there’d be time for us –
at least for mingling our dust together,
as lovers do.

“The God of Allotments” was also published in Champion Poems #1

Sentinel Champions Stories #1 – Miles Salter

In July 2009, Sentinel Literary Quarterly launched a new poetry competition series. It was fiercely contested. Judged by Andy Willoughby and Bob Beagrie, Miles Salter (then writing as Miles Cain) emerged winner of the first and second prizes with “Coffee” and “Enemy Funeral” respectively.

Of ‘Coffee’ and ‘Enemy Funeral’ Willoughby and Beagrie wrote in the adjudication report; “…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.”

“Coffee” and “Enemy Funeral” were published in Champion Poems #1


Lip to neck and arse by thigh,
we almost choked on each other,
our breath ferocious in a war
to stay human.
I was starving for home.

The smells stayed immobile
in groaning air. Human debris
and the reek of coffee.

We murmured in darkness,
creaked with the timbers,
craved a hard breeze.
When they let us on deck
we filled it like flies
at the eye of a horse.
Tongues swollen,
eyes shrunk,
the waves were tempting.

After docking,
we were shoved, bossed,
dressed up, starched.

Groomed for parlours,
we stood in shadowed rooms,
kept tight in cuffs and collars.
I waited near tables,
poured coffee
into pale cups and thought
of skin and coins.

I served it with silver spoons to
giggling ladies
with small and pretty eyes.
I saw the floor,
remembered my fine brother,
his bold face. His big hands.
I thought of winds twitching at the shore,
the heat in the plantation,
the sun on bare leaves.
The distance between
covered truth and blinding sorrow.
Who fetches coffee
and who drinks it.


After the planes had gone,
and the supply trucks skidded north
towards the city,
we arrived and gathered what remained
amongst the charcoal and ash,
cradled them in our arms,
and pushed them into a neat pile.

The sergeant swamped fixed mouths
and bleached navels
with gasoline,
spat and flipped his lighter.

We shuffled back a little
as eyeballs clicked and bones boomed.
Otherwise, they kept quiet.

We were grateful for the pure heat
of the desert afternoon.
With some of the ashes that remained
the sergeant brewed coffee
and we passed a cup around.

We licked our lips
and looked at the horizon.
There were piles like this one in the distance –
bent spirals of smoke
marking a border of a kind.

Miles Salter writes fiction, journalism and poetry. He has written for english newspapers and magazines including The Guardian, The Independent and Daily Telegraph. His first book, A Song For Nicky Moon, was published in 2010 and shortlisted for The Times / Chicken House children’s writing award. His poetry collections include The Border and Animals – both published by Valley Press. He also worked on a series of picture books for a research project by Queen Mary University London. His latest book for children is Howl: A Small and Heavy Adventure, published by Caboodle Books in 2015. His latest poetry book Fix was published in 2020. Miles is visiting lecturer in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University and is Director of York Literature Festival. He likes Marmite, early Bruce Springsteen albums and Philip Larkin’s poetry. Find out more at and follow him on Twitter: @MilesWrites.

Rachel Long (Photo: Amaal Said)

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2021)

For original, previously unpublished poems in English language, on any subject, in any style, up to 50 lines long.

Prizes: £250, £125, £75, 3 x £30, 3 x £20, and 3 x £10.

Learn more and enter competition.