26 July 2020


Mam Tor, January

You’re high. Breathe in the crystal-pure air,
breathe out clouds of mist. Keep on going up.

Marking the path, dark timber fencing poles
line up to stake the stone-hard mountain slope.
Ice bristles along the stretched wire mesh
like magnetised iron filings, to make
an ascending filigree sculpture.

Seen from the valley you are just one fleck
dotting across a camouflagefell.

Yet butting upwards to the peak you thrill
at high banks of cumulus gapped by rays
of silvered sunlight, feel you belong,brush
between cushions of tangled heather, step
over jagged rocks and marvel on your way
at a simple fence on a freezing day.

Mam Tor, January by David Duncombe won first prize, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2019) judged by Roger Elkin


Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2020)
Closing date: 31 July 2020
Judge: Terry Jones
This competition is for original, previously unpublished poems in English language, on any subject, in any style up to 50 lines long. Poems posted on members-only non-public groups for review/critique as part of the creative process are not deemed to have been previously published. Poets of all ages, gender or nationality living in any part of the world are eligible to enter.

Prizes: £250 (1st), £100 (2nd), £50 (3rd), £30 x 3 (High Commendation), £15 x (Commendation), 3 x SLQ Paperback (Special Mentions)

Fees £5/1, £8/2, £10/3, £12/4, £14/5, £16/7, £22/10)

Results: 31 August, 2020

Publication: Prize-winning, commended and specially mentioned poems will receive first publication in Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine (online and print).

Enter competition now >>



swear they did steal
us from our presumed solace.

oh, if we only had time
to stop Nick Cave
and his Murder Ballads.

if we had time only
to rebuff the call
of fluted pain…

ripped off?
those stars in
the acoustic skin of the night?

oh, no, they didn’t feel so.

we knew the art of breaking codes,
knew its high voltage,
cheered incensed colours.

unbreakable were we,
folded-atypically-in crossbeams.


‘Swear’ by Uche Nduka was first published in Sentinel Poetry (Online) Magazine, February 2003. Uche Nduka is the author of Nine East (2013: SPM Publications)

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