Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Entries are invited for previously unpublished poems and short stories in English Language on any subject or style. Maximum length of 40 lines (poems) and 1,500 words (stories).
Prizes: £150, £60, £40 in each category + First Publication in Sentinel Champions print magazine.
Fees: 1/£3, 5/£12 (Poems), 1/£5, 2/£9, 3/£12 (Stories)
Geoff Stevens is the judge for poetry and Ivor Hartmann will judge the short stories.
Cheques/Postal Orders payable to SENTINEL POETRY MOVEMENT in GB£ only to: Unit 136, 113-115 George Lane, London, E18 1AB
Deadline: 30th September 2010
Details and online entries at www.sentinelpoetry.org.uk/slq/competitions
Friday, 9 July 2010
Sentinel Poetry (Online) Magazine Monthly...Since December 2002
JUNE 2003, ISSUE #7
"I condemn hierarchies in religion or philosophy.
I am convinced that everyone is responsible for
his actions and has to find his own philosophy,
meaning, ethics and morality."
Nnorom Azuonye (NA): Hello Roman. Thank you for making the time to talk to me. Let's begin this conversation by quickly going over your background. May I ask when and where you were born, and where you received your education?
Roman Graf (RG): I was born on the 14th of April 1978 in
NA: And where do you currently reside?
RG: I live in
NA: Do you currently work as a full-time writer or are you involved in another occupation?
RG: Sometimes I work part-time and write, at other times I work full-time like I am doing at the moment as a member-recruitment officer for Greenpeace. This will make it possible for me to take time off, travel for a while and concentrate on writing.
NA: Would you kindly say what other work you did before that?
RG: I started with an apprenticeship as a lumberjack, then I cared for disabled people and later worked as an editor for a weekly newspaper Das Stadtblatt Now I have left journalism for literary writing, however, sometimes I also still write for the magazine Der Tages-Anzeiger on a freelance basis.
NA: What inspired you to start writing poetry?
RG: Life is inspiring. It is all about coming to terms with what happens and to voice these thoughts.
NA: You have said that life inspires you. Would you say that you are naturally philosophical or are your attitudes to life and what happens guided by a religion, or any other organised school of thought?
RG: Of course I have been influenced - by the culture I grew up in. But other than that I am an atheist and I do not adhere to any specific school of thought. I condemn hierarchies in religion or philosophy. I am convinced that everyone is responsible for his actions and has to find his own philosophy, meaning, ethics and morality. Everyone has to bear this burden. This is what I do.
NA: Are there any poets that have influenced or continue to influence your poetry?
RG: The Swiss writer Max Frisch, the Austrian writers Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard and Bettina Balàka and also Paul Auster.
"I can only speak for myself and
for me writing is to demolish walls.
The readers begin to see the world differently,
they are plunged into a different world
an alternative world."
"I think that it is wrong that we have been
trying to psychologise everything recently...
When everything that we do is motivated by
deficiency and we know this then our
self-perception will soon be that of inferiority.
Man is reduced to nothing…"
But your question about the purpose to my writing asks for an explanation: how is the writer's motive relevant for literature? I do not know my reasons and I think that it is wrong that we have been trying to psychologise everything recently. The psychologist Alfred Adler once said that the more ambitious one is in a certain field the larger his inferiority complex will be in that same area. This statement may be correct, but what use is it? When everything that we do is motivated by deficiency and we know this then our self-perception will soon be that of inferiority. Man is reduced to nothing and can only define himself in his actions and achievements. And we are getting better and better at this: we have great careers, fast cars and build huge cities and funfairs. Man himself is becoming less important - if it continues like this, he will soon have disappeared. But to return to your question about these four types: the answer lies in literature. The reader of literary works does not need to ask why it has been written.
"...the responsibility for cultural development
is slowly returned to the authors themselves.
Society retreats and the circle of authors
is self-centred and has to provide for itself."
Then there is the fact that young and unknown authors normally don't have much money - and because it is not often possible to make a living from the sale of books, prizes and grants are an important source of income.
But there is a more important aspect to this question: Today most of the competitions in
These entry fees eventually lead to a two-class literary scene: only those who have enough money can establish themselves in literary business. To give a quick summary: pay-to-enter competitions only promote the self-exploitation of authors and therefore I would not say that they promote literature at all but destroy it.
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Sentinel Poetry Magazine January 2003 | Letter
Poetry In A Season Of Anomie
Congratulations on your project, and on the very profound interview with Obi Nwakanma.
Irrespective of Obi's very apt response to the question on the nature of poetry and its relationship to performance, it is nevertheless clear that his poetry is written with an ear for sound, which is the sine qua non of all poetry, or at least what used to be known as poetry.
My only and favorite recollection of Obi Nwakanma is that he once made me go back to London and spend days reading one of my own poems aloud, trying with all admiration to see if I could read it like Obi Nwakanma read it at the Okigbo Prize reading party organized by Toyin Akinosho and others in Lagos in 1992. But the poem in question could only be read so well because it was written with an ear for sound, for though we have come to conceive of poetry as a written form, it is however an oral form first, unlike the novel which began and survives as a written form. I read and listen as I write, often aloud, sometimes into a microphone; In the end, I am not a great reader of my own poetry, but I *hear* what it ought to sound like in the voice of a good reader, and I make that my bench mark. It does not matter if the poem is not for declamation; even in its quietest form, poetry must work as a tracery of sounds.
In a radio interview with Lewis Nkosi (I believe in 1962, I'd have to check the dates), Okigbo stated: "What has influenced me most are not poets but musical composers... The composer is working with abstract sounds while the poet is working with words." He also revealed that he was "under the spell of the impressionist composers; Debussy and others" while writing *Heavensgate*, and that he began writing poetry seriously in 1957 only after he quit composing music. An excellent pianist and flutist, Okigbo had often accompanied Soyinka on the piano while the later performed in bars in Ibadan (many do not remember today that Soyinka, a fine guitar player, spent a brief period trying to make a living playing bars in Paris before he finally decided that his future lay in theatre.) So that the success of Okigbo's poetry, as everyone from Obiechina and Udechukwu to Obi Nwakanma in this interview have pointed out, lies not merely in its mystical depth but first in its irresistible sonorousness. Hence the truth in that most quoted saying that for all good poetry, the aim was song.
Nnorom, in your interview with your previous guest, Nathan Lewis, whose poetry by the way is quite typical of much contemporary poetry including those of the most acclaimed on both sides of the Ocean such as Rita Dove; plain, Lewis takes issue with rap and speaks of the "purity" of poetry, which leads one to think that he believes poetry to be an elevated literary form distinct from the insurgencies of the oral. Now, one has a lot to take issue with regarding so-called spoken word or performance poetry as practised today, which often languishes at the very other extreme of complete vacuity and inanity (if you can strut about on stage, wave your hands and howl, then you are a poet or "spoken word artist": Bollocks!), yet the truth remains that the finest poetry in existence today is to be found in rap; in the words of Nas (aka Nasiru, who is reputed to be the son of the famous drummer, Olu Dara) singing "One mic", or JayZ, or the incomparable Biggie Smalls, or that unassailable wordsmith, Tupac Shakur, or Guru, perhaps the finest lyricist of them all. Or indeed those elemental pioneers Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five at the height of their genius. I have theorized that the most successful translation of African traditions in poetry into the contemporary is through rap and Jamaican dancehall. The rest of us are mere impostors, unworthy heirs, failed sons. Okonkwo begat Nwoye. It happens.
I trace the tragedy of all contemporary poetry to one inanity; the mistake of confusing *verse* with poetry because classical European poetry came down to us in written form as verse. But verse is not necessarily poetry, which is to say that an arrangement of four lines on a page, or four sections of four lines with an additional couplet at the end, does not become poetry in and of itself; it is only a notation, like the written signs or *scores* with which a composer encodes his music. Now, if the scores are mere signs on paper without music, then that becomes a drawing, not a musical composition, just as verse without poetic content remains mere words and not poetry. I would take my example from Mr. Lewis's own "poetry". In his "Brenda Poem #8", from his apparently much acclaimed *Brenda Poems*, there is a narrative about an encounter with a woman in her kitchen, who instructs the protagonist in the folly of sexist assumptions. The narrative is chopped up and arranged in 50 lines of verse, but where is the poetry? Where are the poetic devices that distinguish poetry from mere narrative?
Mr. Lewis's admirers praise him as a "lyrical poet", which is ironic because the term, lyrical is after all from the word, lyric, which is a musical form that in turn derives its register from the word, lyre, a stringed, musical instrument for solo. Which means that a lyrical poet writes introspective poetry that in ancient times would be performed solo with the accompaniment of a lyre. A lyrical poet writes lyrics. Now, compare Mr. Lewis's poetry, or what I have read of it, with those of another poet who writes the same genre that Mr. Lewis seems to write, Chicago poet Sanda Cisneros, and you find that the difference is clear. You can almost hear a trio on a Mexican street corner performing Cisneros's poems just like they once did the poetry of Lorca, who was a true lyrical poet.
The other great tragedy of contemporary poetry is the license of free verse. Before Walt Whitman most poets took the trouble to instill at least the barest poetic pretenses into their work through the end rhyme. A quatrain was forced to rhyme in a pattern; abba, abab, aabb, etc. Even those who would not bother with syllabic meters, at least used rhyme to bring a musical or sonic coherence to their poetry. But then Whitman changed all that with his declamatory poetry that did away with the end rhyme. What most contemporary so-called poets forget is that he retained and in fact magnified a whole range of rhetorical devices from occasional internal rhyme and alliterative syncopation to modal resonance, all of
which made his poetry not a departure but in fact a continuation in the great traditions of orature. None of which the majority of impostors out there today know anything about. And so, they take only the free verse, but freedom can be a curse sometimes because freedom provides no restraint from incompetence and decadence, both of which now parade in the name of poetry.
I have a word of admonition for those who still practice this ancient art; speak your words till they sound beautiful, no matter your subject, speak your words to yourself, in front of a mirror, to the emptiness of your own home or the raucous company of admirers, vocalize your words till they sound right and beautiful, and no one who hears or reads them will forget them.
Monday, 29 March 2010
We are pleased to announce the publication of CHAMPION POEMS #2 [ISSN 2042-5228] - Selected Poems from the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (October 2009) Edited by Bobby Parker.
Foreword by Nnorom Azuonye
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Through Dust
- Murder Road
- Good Deeds
- Sunday is a Day of...Shopping
- Mental Digestion
- To Catch the Harmattan
- Your Lebanon
- The Homecoming
- A Testing Conflict
- Eclogue IV
Warren Paul Glover
- The Mountain
- Found Objects
- A Civilised Woman
- Finding Stones
- Sunday Evening, Driving West
Lewis R. Humphries
- The Fading Light of Summer
- Youth Would Help.
You may buy a copy (or two or three, including Champion Poems #1) at http://www.sentinelpoetry.org.uk/slq/bookstore
Monday, 22 February 2010
Chika O. Okeke
An Act of Faith
He sat there and waited
For the Christmas star
But Harmattan winds
Hurled anger into watery eyes
Unblinking and hurting
He stood there and waited
For the alleluia cries
Of singing angels
Or the bleating of
In the lamb's pen
He lies here listening
To the breaking bones
Of his mind searching
Soul ravines and skies
Awaiting the ascent
Of a twinkless star.
Don't leave without a feedback on "An Act of Faith"
Monday, 1 February 2010
I am pleased to invite you to the January – March 2010 issue of Sentinel Literary Quarterly, the online magazine of world literature published by Sentinel Poetry Movement.
This issue is dedicated to the memory of the great poet and activist Dennis Brutus who went into transition on Boxing Day, 2009.
- Fiction -
“Unmusical Bumps” by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey
(First Prize winner, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Short Story Competition, January 2010)
“Demons” by Claire Godden-Rowland
(Second Prize winner, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Short Story Competition, January 2010)
“Diluted Cappuccino” by Andrew Campbell-Kearsey
(Third Prize winner, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Short Story Competition, January 2010)
“Bumping” by W Jack Savage
“Night in a Drum” by Emmanuel Sigauke
“Big Man” by N Quentin Woolf.
- Poetry –
“Afternoon Song and Other Poems” by Dominic James
“Three Poems” by Sharma Taylor
“Instamatic” by Noel Williams
(First Prize winner, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition, January 2010)
“Moon-Search” by Mandy Pannett
(Second Prize winner, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition, January 2010)
“South and West” by Paul Jeffcutt
(Third Prize winner, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition, January 2010)
- Drama –
“Dream in Two Scenes” by Susanna Roxman
“Dialogue in Edinburgh” by Susanna Roxman
- Essay –
“Meeting Dennis Brutus” by Olu Oguibe
- Interview –
“Dike Okoro in conversation with Benjamin Kwakye”
- Competitions –
“Judge’s Report on the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Short Story Competition January 2010” by Unoma Azuah