Tag Archives: Competition Judge’s Report

Results of the SLQ Poetry & Short Story Competitions, January 2011

I would like to thank the judges, Amanda Sington-Williams and Mandy Pannett for jobs well done in adjudicating the January 2011 Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry and Short Story Competitions and for their detailed reports.

Now, to match the titles of the winning and highly-commended works with their writers.

Short Stories (Winners)
Third Prize: ‘Run Boy Run’ by ALISON LOCK
Second Prize: ‘Between Men’ by MARY BYRNE
First Prize: ‘Edgar Doily at the Point’ by DOUGLAS BRUTON

Short Stories (Highly Commended, in no particular order)
No Thing Called Goodbyeby COLIN GALLANT
The Remains of the Dayby VAIJU JOSHI

Poems (Winners)
Third Prize: ‘A Space’ by E.K. WALL
Second Prize: ‘Johnny, Be Good’ by A L McCLIMENS
First Prize: ‘The Over-abundant Woman’ by CASS ISKANDR

Poems (Highly Commended, in no particular order)

Partingby JO BELL

These winners and highly commended writers, together with the authors of the 9 other commended poems in Mandy Pannett’s report will have their work published in Sentinel Champions #7, in August 2011.

Congratulations all.

Sandra Felix
Competitions Secretary


Judge’s Report – SLQ Poetry Competition January 2011


mandypannettphotoThere were many interesting, thought provoking poems among the entries but about 30 stood out for me as exceptional. It was hard to limit my final choices and some of the runners up would have been highly commended if there had been space. When it came to the three prize winners however, I was in no doubt. They are outstanding.

Here is my response to the poems:

First prize: The over-abundant woman

There was never any doubt in my mind that this was going to be my winner. The writer has such control over the subtleties and variations of language. The rhythm is fabulous, line and stanza breaks are spot on, the poet’s voice is strong and assured. I have nothing but ‘abundant’ praise for this winning poem.

Second prize: Johnny, Be Good

I selected this poem, as I did for the winner, for the strength of its voice. There is such vigour here, starting with the wonderful first line ‘The elephants must have been surprised to say the least’ and continuing with a potted history of Rome through to its list of what to do and not to do, its instructions to ‘Johnny’ and all the clues whereby the reader guesses this is John Keats. An imaginative, clever, original poem that sparkles with energy.

Third prize: A space

This poem needs to be read in full to appreciate its beauty and skill. It is a remarkable poem that handles a painful and controversial subject without sentimentality or bias but with sensitivity and compassion and – I’ll have to use the word again – beauty. Here are a few lines but they are all outstanding: the foetus ‘rests now in my curved words/which have created a sunlit space for him/to be everything that he was./And everything he wasn’t.’

Highly Commended:


This poem caught my imagination from its opening lines: ‘We have come where England dips a toe/in the Atlantic and decides/not to go in’ and there are other strong images and phrases – the dry stone wall that ‘puts out its tongue to give me a leg up’ ‘a restless protoplasm that stalks/the land’ Most of all I love the description of stone: ‘Stone knows exactly where it’s going – nowhere…its shallow pan a dazzle of weathers’ This is a fine and original landscape poem.

A Bicycle Wheel

This poem struck me immediately with its energy and vigour. I find the language irresistible : ‘Where’s the rest of it? The mecury dash/of the once sight speed of it? The – oh, God! – /wheel mate of it? The chain that doesn’t chain/ of it? There is humour too: Miss Marple comes into it and Beethoven who ‘never saw a bicycle’ and there are neat details leading to a great last line: ‘inside the shop, cereal/cigarettes, lottery tickets, some chat maybe,/shade and sun on all our molecules.’ This is a vivid poem. Exceptional.


I selected this for its originality, energy and vivid language. It caught my attention from the opening line: ‘Hustler, your business is to always shift’ and I was won over by the description of the river ‘busting’ the ice in ‘toffee-broken planes,/brailled panes and nearly-triangles’ The way the river is addressed directly as ‘You’ ‘Hustler’ and ‘Thief’ adds strength and immediacy which contrasts with the vague, impersonal ‘two forms in the river mist’ who are waiting, directionless, for life to carry them ‘elsewhere’ I like the way that in the last line these two bodies are revealed as the narrator and companion. This hints, subtly, at the situation suggested by the title ‘Parting’


The victims have been named

This is another poem that almost hurts; it is so painful and poignant to read. The rough, exuberant and carefree boys on the block who have squashed into the narrator’s car many times after matches now ‘lie under a sheet on a petrol station forecourt,/ like two kicked-up divots of earth’ This last stanza is shocking in its suddenness, its brevity and its use of understatement. An amazing, powerful poem.

Drinking Games

Here is a brilliantly crafted relationship poem beneath an overlay of meticulously described, commonplace details. I love this writer’s use of syntax. I wish there had been space to give it a higher position.


This poem is rich in its sensory images. We feel the heat of the ‘plastic compartment,’ see and feel the ‘perfect beads’ of sweat on the young girl, taste courgettes, tomatoes and salt. A very fine poem.

The Wrong Children

This is quite a painful poem to read, about disappointment and the gap between hope and reality. The woman has ‘done her best’ but her ideal children are elsewhere, belong to other people or don’t exist. Certainly they are nothing like the brutal, sneering boys she has produced.


A beautifully written, assured poem which handles the myth with skill and originality. It is hard to select my favourite lines; they are all good: ‘his white flanks blinding in the sun’ ‘his luscious pelt, that velvet nose’ ‘your fingers trace the arcs/ of his horns and you’re lost’ ‘tears and sea mingling as strange juice’

Balinese Driver

An apparently simple poem where the guests relax with ‘coffee and cochineal-pink cakes’ and browse through family photo albums, but with a skilful twist in the last stanza which alters our perceptions of the situation as subtly as ‘a glance in the rear-view mirror’


Every word, every image counts here. The street artist is uncertain, full of self-doubt but the language used to describe his dilemma is as strong and vibrant as the light that ‘crackles off tall buildings.’ I think this is an amazing poem.


Here we have the situation of a woman who, discontented with her family life, makes and carries out plans to hide herself in the loft ‘amid the lagging and the gurgling water tank’ at the same time making sure she has plenty of home comforts – ‘necessities’ she calls them. I was intrigued by the narrative, especially the idea of the woman scurrying down to use the bathroom when her husband was asleep or in the garden, but I enjoyed it most for the extended metaphor of a squirrel hoarding provisions, making a comfortable nest and sleeping the winter away.



1st – The Over-abundant Woman

2nd – Johnny, Be Good

3rd – A Space


· Penwith

· A Bicycle Wheel

· Parting

COMMENDED (in no particular order):

· The victims have been named

· Drinking Games

· Sweat

· The Wrong Children

· Europa

· Balinese Driver

· Vincent

· Hibernation

Mandy Pannett

Judge’s Report – SLQ Short Story Competition January 2011


Amanda Sington I was pleasantly surprised to see the huge number of stories that were entered for the competition and even more so by the high quality and variety. The locations were as widely spread as the characters that each came alive in their own particular way. A good short story is difficult to achieve and it is satisfying to read so many. Of course this made my task of selecting the winners very difficult.

First prize goes to ‘Edgar Doily at the Point’. The narrative takes the form of a classical short story and is about a single moment in a character’s life and depicts all the emotions which go with that slice of life. When the story came to the end it stayed with me like the afterglow of a sunset. But it is the magical use of language which set it off with the deft use of similes within the descriptions that are so brilliant.

In second place comes ‘Between Men.’ This too is about one event in the main character’s life. The central character is an unusual choice, the story line original, and the ending poignant. The pace of the narrative matches the character’s mood, and I thought the setting was extremely well-drawn and the ending a surprise, although it fitted perfectly into the story as a whole.

‘Run Boy Run’ takes third place. I liked the echo of a myth that formed the backbone to the story. From the start of the story the reader has a good idea what will happen in the end, but it is the slow unravelling of the story that creates tension. The descriptions create wonderful pictures in the mind and the main character comes alive.

The three commended stories were extremely good too. ‘The Remains of the Day’ depicts one thread of experience in a character’s life rather than one event. The repetitive scene setting works like poetry. We recognize each section and wait avidly for the change which occurs at the end. The subject matter is distressing but probably not uncommon and the resolution at the end was a good way to conclude it.

Also, I selected ‘Last Year’ as a commended story. This is a very short story that manages to pack into the narrative, a variety of emotions from a contented bliss to sorrow. It is this that I thought was brilliantly executed. The scene setting took me to the place and mirrors the events of the story and the central character was well drawn.

Last but not least, ‘No Thing Called Goodbye’ was selected as the third commended story. It is, like some of some of the others that have been selected, about a particular moment in a character’s life. It is the mystery behind the language and the feeling that the story belongs to long lost times that won me over. And the ending left me wondering what happened to the two central characters.

These form my six selections. As I said at the start, this has not been easy, and I hope the authors of the other entries are not too disappointed. Rejection is part of the writing process and persistence always pays off. But though each and every one of the stories took me to a different place, unfortunately, I could only select six. So congratulations to the three winners and the authors of the three commended stories.

Amanda Sington-Williams