Category Archives: Sentinel Champions – Prizewinning writing

The winning, highly commended, commended and specially mentioned poems in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition series.

David Punter – Poem for my Grand-daughter

POEM FOR MY GRAND-DAUGHTER

And so I wonder as I watch you
…….playing with onions
…………..passing them from one wicker bowl
to another, intent and concentrated
…….flinging stripped outer skins
…………..onto the floor in perfect confidence

that they will be picked up by somebody else;
…….or silently mouthing the words
…………..of new songs and rhymes
gradually shaping their meaning
…….(yesterday I turned on the car CD player
…………..expecting ‘Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad’,

a Clash classic, and getting a surprise blast of
…….‘Old Macdonald has a Farm’
…………..or finding strange joy in stamping
on the flagged kitchen floor, resonating
…….with the limits of your small body
…………..and extending it ceaselessly outwards

achieving increasing mastery of your world;
…….or your wary appreciation of that other world,
…………..a world of two cats, sometimes sleeping
sometimes getting dangerously close – and so
…….what do I wonder? I have forgotten
…………..what I wonder, I am lost instead

inside your adventure-hungry view,
…….your this and that, your sharp discrimination,
…………..your ceaseless lessons of the self –
what I had really forgotten is that the key is not
…….this endless capacity for learning,
…………..it is the desire, the avidity

always to know more than you did, on any
…….Thursday afternoon, more than you did
…………..that vivid half-forgotten week before.


“Poem for my Grand-Daughter” by David Punter was commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2021) judged by Paul McDonald.


David Punter

David Punter is a poet and academic. He has published eight poetry collections: China and Glass, Lost in the Supermarket, Asleep at the Wheel, Foreign Ministry, Selected Short Stories, Bristol: 21 Poems, Those Other Fields and Stranger. He has had poems published in a wide variety of magazines in the UK and abroad, including PN Review, Encounter, Thames Poetry and The Puckerbrush Review. He has taught literature in England, Scotland, China and Hong Kong; his most recent post was as Professor of Poetry at the University of Bristol.

Derek Sellen – Three Tillings

THREE TILLINGS
……– according to myth, Plutus, the god of wealth, was conceived in “a thrice-tilled field”

The first

Plutus exhales –
his sweet breath turns our heads
giddy with desire.

We scrabble in furrows
to find gems, shuttle sieves,

dig through grit
to seams glittering with mica.

Plutus wants better,
has schemes to get it,

his furnaces and chimneys
breathe foul on us.

The second

Plutus squats,
his excrement is gold.
If he farts on you, spend it quick.

He sets his signature everywhere,
on contracts, plaques,
on the cornerstones of our houses.

Exhausted land becomes fertile,
debts ripen and tighten their tendrils.

Plutus is a little god
but he weighs heavy; the scales
tip favourably in lawcourt and town hall.

The third

Plutus belches,
wealth ferments inside his belly.

He’ll pack up business,
disappear to island hideaways,
leave empty vaults and rotting silos.

At the end of a banquet,
in a gilded chair under the chandeliers,
as ministerial guests glide off-stage,

Plutus snores.
No need to strive.
The soil prepares itself
for another sowing, another r(e)aping.


‘Three Tillings’ by Derek Sellen won second prize in Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2021) judged by Paul McDonald)


Derek Sellen

Derek Sellen has written poetry, short stories and plays over many years. He has read his work widely and has won various poetry awards. His poems have been published in Arts Council, Poetry on the Lake and PEN anthologies among others. The initial inspiration for The Three Tillings came from the release of the Panama Papers. His collection of poems inspired by Spanish art The Other Guernica (Cultured Llama 2018) has been very well reviewed.

F. Philip Holland – Bwthyn (Cottage)

F. Philip Holland

BWTHYN (Cottage)

Here is silence; elwch, tawelwch, ddistawrwydd.
Here, the quiet is a stifled cry of uncaredforness,
these broken walls have nothing to offer, but doom.

The builder of this simple home has long since gone.
Glad to leave, and live? Relieved to be deaf and blind in death?
His pitiable labours and earnest prayers count for nothing now.

Slowly, jealous ivy and brambles drag down; a creeping elwch.
Skyward-pointing spars reach up in one last stopped appeal,
like a cursed boat going down in the sea; a far ddistawrwydd.

Sagged hinges have become rib bones on the door’s rotten body,
yet there they still hang; crucified to the stoic jamb’s resilience.
Here no-one knocks. The spent ghosts wait in tawelwych.

The stubborn, smoke-haunted chimney stack alone refuses;
its close thick stones resist, hold back the quiet siege of gravity,
like some perished castle keep, still defiant in its crumbling dust.

Rain, frost, warping heat of Summer all proved their reckoning.
The shelling slates, ill-stacked in overlapped-domino slippage,
return to their strata of naturalness, wanting the noise of nails.

Two unblinking windows stare both out and in; a morose watch.
They neither widen in delight, nor narrow down in any fear.
No landlord comes, no cart, no courting youth, no preacher.

The flagged floor is a weedy graveyard wreathed in nettles.
Spear thistles and batterdock the only herbs gardened here.
Just an echoing disturbed silence; ddistawrwydd, tawelwch, elwch.

(elwch, tawelwych, ddistawrwydd – are all Welsh words for ‘silence’)


BWTHYN (Cottage) by F. Philip  Holland was highly commended in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April 2021) judged by Mary Anne Smith Sellen.