Tag Archives: sentinel literary quarterly poetry competition

Sentinel Champions Stories #3 – Akinlabi Peter

Akinlabi Peter

Akinlabi Peter won the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition with “Moving” in October 2009 judged by Bobby Parker. Since then, he has gone on to publish A Pagan Place, issued as part of the APBF Chapbook Box Set: Eight New-Generation African Poets in 2015 published by Akashic Books, and a collection of poems, Iconography, which was long-listed for the Nigeria Prize for Literature in 2017. He was also the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Monday Writer July 20, 2020.

Bobby wrote in his adjudication report: “I immediately chose Moving as a possible winner, before going over it again and again, and again, and coming to the conclusion that it ticked pretty much all the boxes for me. It had to be first. The opening lines took me by the hand and by the end of the poem I had been somewhere and come back better for it. There is a command of line and craft in Moving that doesn’t get in the way, that doesn’t drown out the sound of a heart beating.”


Kumasi, 1967


i would not know you if not for the lights
riding forth through the retaining walls
of the ungovernable river…

we had forded water to the rail lines
reciting the lapidary psalms of the baptists
but arrived home to a startled flight of voices

a frightful moment later,
lights of devotion falling again
through the ashen pulse of the wind, i dog-eared
the intimation on the dark bulrushes of Kumasi

and that is how i was ferried home
incomplete, cultivating another time
while the dissonant meaning lets in
a daunting disbelief

a child again, i fold a geography of loss
into your eyes of secret, into the grieving fondness
of that district that women called Lagostown


so you will go through to Kumasi again
you will remember how the days passed
between the terraces and the grotto
you will recall the seduction of a quiet surrender

maybe you will remember too
a child’s unfettered heart; an atrocious gift
wrapped in the riddle of a sunset; arms outstretched
unto the sky of an abandoned house
ah, the sudden dampness of departure

now you perfect your gift of double faith-
hope it still retains its reins of cool closures-
admitting your weightless, interminable narrative
a bridge, you say, to a transmissible life

when you arrive in Kumasi,
you might cleanse the memory of sun dusts
searching the direction of clouds towards Ababu
or you might come undone
reading the signs of recent dawns on a tall building

the river will be unfamiliar- if you find it-
but the lights will still be the same
playing the meanings with things in memory
you can look for the fey swell of the bulrushes
and count the degrees of pain in the architecture of loss

Sentinel Champions Stories

#1 – Miles Salter  #2 – Mandy Pannett

Current Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition

Closing 31.10.21 – Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition

Details: This competition is for original, previously unpublished poems in English language, on any subject, in any style up to 50 lines long. You may also enter a visual poem if the image will fit into a single page. 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), £125 (2nd), £75 (3rd), £30 x 3 (High Commendation), £20 x 3 (Commendation), £10 x 3 (Special Mentions)

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

Judge: Rachel Long – author of My Darling from the Lions.

Learn more and enter now >>

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition
Prizing poetry…since July 2009

Vanessa Lampert – Likes You


The girl who used to bully you at school calls
and leaves a voicemail, asking for acupuncture.

She wants you to go to her house,
that’s how bad the pain is, and there’s a family

on holiday in France and it’s your family
forty years ago. You’re a little girl

eating a croissant for the first time and the ants
are huge and all the dogs might have rabies

don’t approach them. It’s sunny every day
and your mum plays frisbee with you in the sea

but the best part of all is the 14 whole days
of not being hurt by the girl at school

who makes hurting you her project.
And someone is washing blood from a pavement

and it’s her blood because for years, you made
all the spilt blood her blood. And now

she lives in a house with a yellow front door
in a street named after a small songbird

and you’re in her bedroom, sitting on her bed,
both pretending you’ve never met before.

She’s lying face down, with all the needles in
and suddenly, what you want to say is

the thing that made you bully me, can you still
see that in me now? And what you want to happen

is the miracle where you take the needles out
and she stands up pain free, and likes you.

‘Likes You’ by Vanessa Lampert won first prize in the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2021) judged by Paul McDonald.

Vanessa Lampert

Vanessa Lampert has an MA in Writing Poetry from Poetry School London and Newcastle University. Since graduating in 2019, she has won the Café Writers Prize, the Edward Cawston Thomas prize, and the Ver poetry Prize twice. She came second in The Fish, Yeovil, Oxford Brookes and Kent and Sussex prizes. She was commended in the National Poetry Competition 2020. Vanessa’s work has been widely published, most recently in Magma, The Moth, The Oxford Times, Poetry News and Poetry Wales.