Monday, 31 December 2012

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry & Short Story Competitions, closing date extended.

Happy New Year all.

Please note that the closing date for Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition judged by Noel Williams and Short Story Competition judged by Clare Girvan has been extended from 31st December, 2012 to 21st January, 2013. This is in response to messages from several of our supporters who believed that the closing date of 31st December was too close to our annual competitions which closed on the 30th of November, and they needed more time to enter competition-ready work. We agree, hence this three-week extension.

This means that the results will now be announced on the 28th of February 2013.

To enter the competition now, please go to

Saturday, 22 December 2012


In the January - March 2013 issue of Sentinel Literary Quarterly we shall carry a little feast of reviews including: Miles Cain's 'The Border' and Graham Burchell's 'Vemeer's Corner' reviewed by Aisling Tempany. Richard Ali's 'City of Memories' reviewed by Alison Lock, Basil Diki’s 'To Hangmen, One Scaffold Book 1' reviewed by Sanya Osha, Brindley Hallam Dennis's 'Talking to Owls' and Sanya Osha's 'An Underground Colony of Summer Bees' reviewed by Nnorom Azuonye.

Alison Lock will also review Terence Frisby's 'Kisses on a Postcard' for SLQ April-June '13, and Laura Solomon's 'Hilary and David' for SLQ Jul-Sept '13.

If you would like to have your book reviewed in the SLQ send or ask your publisher to send review copies to: Reviews Editor Sentinel Literary Quarterly Unit 136 113-115 George Lane South Woodford London E18 1AB United Kingdom

We also have many other books received waiting to be allocated to reviewers.

If you would like to review for Sentinel Literary Quarterly, drop me a line. We do not pay our reviewers, you just have to love the written word and you get to keep the book you review. Email me 

Nnorom Azuonye

Monday, 10 December 2012

Mandy Pannett’s ‘All the Invisibles’ Reviews Competition results.


We recently asked people to review one, two or all three poems from Mandy Pannett’s poetry collection for a chance to win a signed copy of the book. Three reviewers have emerged joint winners. ‘Best After Frost’ was reviewed by Paul Ward and Krystyna Hollis. E Russell Smith took on ‘Stunted’. Here are the reviews in no particular order.












Reviewed by PAUL WARD


            Since Mandy Pannett nods towards Shakespeare’s use of the medlar (it is mentioned in four of his plays ) , here is how he describes its essential characteristic in a witty riposte from Rosalind to Touchstone in As You Like It :           


            You’ll be rotten ere you be half ripe , and that’s the right virtue of the medlar


            And that process of decay is most effectively registered in the first three lines of ‘Best After Frost’ . The statement is simple and straightforward enough but it is made using words chosen for the way in which sound echoes / supports meaning : The alliteration of ‘ripens’ and ‘rots’ at once establishes one process as an extension of the other and the softness of the rotting fruit is suggested by a mixture of alliteration and consonance using the soft sounds of m and s – mysterious..medlar..ripens..softens..rots..camembert..progress..mould’ . Beautifully done .

            But from there , the poem takes off in some surprising directions , skidding over Shakespeare ( you need to know your references – the poet does nothing to explain here ) and landing on a saucy seaside postcard of the kind typical of the cartoonist Bamforth . What has happened is that the shape of the fruit is being compared to those impossibly large and rounded buttocks so characteristic of Bamforth’s drawings . But for the effect of comic bathos , the comparison is almost worthy of one of the metaphysicals . If you don’t immediately get ‘holes’ , look at a picture of a medlar whilst the cartoon postcard is still in your mind…

            In the third verse , ‘slimy , slurpy process’ again works beautifully in terms of sound echoing meaning – but ‘blettir’ , the French verb for that process of decay , suddenly whisks the poet’s imagination away to France – and there are some very adroit bits of morphing here : rainfall…rain and footfall…rain ( in its pitter-patter sound ) suggesting drumming…. And having turned a very sharp corner of thought , there we are in the French revolution ( deftly hinted at by the ‘tumbril wheels’ ) with the decadent aristocracy beginning to steer us back towards medlars in being a ‘ripe and rotten group’ . The near repetition between verse 1 and verse 4 ( ripens / ripe , rots /rotten ) is quite deliberate .

            The colour of the flesh of the decaying medlar has already implicitly taken us towards blood ( the inferred guillotine executions ) but in the last verse we get a different colour-association – that of the garnet-stone , which surprisingly , in turn , leads us to medlar jelly , so that the process of decay does not end in mere annihilation but either in what is saved as ‘sweet for Spring’s return’ or in immediate sensual pleasure , juicily evoked in the squelchy sounds of ‘flesh’ and ‘luscious’ .

            The poem begins and ends with the fruit itself . In between , the poet’s imagination has taken us , in a mere nine lines or so , on a journey touching on Shakespeare , seaside postcards and the French revolution , all things connected with or developed from the treatment of the subject , though I quibble that Shakespeare – the name only – is a bit unfair on the reader : you either know the references or you don’t .

            My other slight quibble is that I wish the very last line ( containing the italicised title ) kicked back a little harder into what has been read earlier . But it is a finely written poem with images that are memorable because they  are fresh , original and surprising .




Reviewed by E. Russell Smith


One poet should not attempt to review ("critique?") the poem of another. If it is worthy of its calling, I immediately seize its theme and start to hang a poem of my own on the scaffolding it presents.


In "Stunted", Mandy's scaffolding is masterful. We are presented with a boy in a state of wonder, whose raven life is a mixture of sweets and abuse. We follow his growth into a resourceful and purposeful youth. The directions he has chosen are not to be admired, but to be understood. The engines of his motivation are a rock in his chosen wilderness, a penknife (requirement of every boy) and a fertile imagination. Confinement in a dustbin is artfully contrasted with the freedom we imagine on the moors. His friend and mentor is the Troll, as stunted and as lively as as himself.


This portrait requires only eighteen lines, and it is complete. Would I change anything? Probably some lineation, and elimination of the word "upon" in two places where it seems to serve only to preserve the iambic pentameter — the perfect rhythm for the oral reading which must always be a test of excellence. As usual, Mandy's poem succeeds in all respects.



Best After Frost:

Reviewed by Krystyna Hollis


I found this poem very accessible, radiating sight, smell and touch and historic resonance.


With an intimate gossip the poet shares with us how far the medlar fruit can extend

the senses. I wanted to inspect this fruit, to hold it in my hand, to absorb what the poet clearly feels and offers the reader; just as the freezing fruit releases its flavour.


We are not only invited into lascivious speculations and earthy imagery but also into a historical connection of a time when the dried blood from the French Revolution and the rain of Montmatre mingled.


Learn more about All the Invisibles here>




24 years in the making, poetry lovers, this is Afam Akeh’s ‘Letter Home & Biafran Nights’


Stolen Moments published in 1988 showcased the matured muscular yet subtle voice of a brilliant African poet, Afam Akeh.

He has published several award-winning, high-impact poems in magazines and journals since then, and has read or workshopped his poetry at literary festivals and other poetry events in Nigeria and the United Kingdom. But the question on the lips of every lover of African poetry has been, ‘when will Afam Akeh publish his next collection?’.

Ladies and gentlemen, poetry lovers, after 24 years, the wait is finally over! Afam Akeh’s AFAM-AKEHlong-awaited new book, the most-anticipated poetry book by an African poet, Letter Home & Biafran Nights is set to be released on the 17th of December, 2012 by SPM Publications, a Sentinel Poetry Movement imprint with an increasing number of exciting authors in its books including Uche Nduka, Roger Elkin, Mandy Pannett, Brindley Hallam Dennis, Obemata and Sentinel founder, Nnorom Azuonye.

Letter Home & Biafran Nights. There is the sense in this work of an involved and inclusive poetry, revelling in the humour, play and beauty of experience but also revealing moments of heart-rending loss and unfulfilment… a sense of poetry as story, constructing meaning and plot from the connected roles and all-significant affairs of its staged players. The poems go beyond their detailed representations of dislocation, personal and collective conflicts, to point a determined finger at the fragile moments and relationships which enact them. There is here not so much faith in the untainted breath as assurance in the possibility of recovery. In the cast of vulnerable human – and occasional animal – characters we soon recognise the dog across our street or someone we know. We catch glimpses of our own dramatic and unsettled lives.

“I have committed the last 10 years of my life to the promotion of African literature. My mindset has been to bring the very best African writing into a kind of mainstream mix, where African writers are published side by side writers from other cultures. It is a thing of great pride and extraordinary significance that in the 10th year of Sentinel Poetry Movement we publish a book by Afam Akeh, a man who believed in the Sentinel vision from the beginning and who, in continuing belief in what we do, has now entrusted us with the work he has done in nearly a quarter of a century. This in itself is a great responsibility and we cherish the privilege.” 
   - Nnorom Azuonye, Publishing Director, SPM Publications.

You are invited to the Letter Home & Biafran Nights pages. Explore. Share. Buy the book.


Sunday, 2 December 2012


...and now, people, the last Sentinel writing competitions of the year 2012. Let's close the year with resounding success.

Poetry Competition (December 2012) | Closing Date: 31-Dec-2012

Theme: Open

Length: 50 lines maximum (Excluding title)

Prizes: £150 (1st), £75 (2nd), £50 (3rd), £10 x 3 (High Commendation).

Fees: £3 per poem, or £11 for 4, £12 for 5, £16 for 7.

Publication: Yes. In Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine.


Enter online or by post here.


Short Story Competition (December 2012) | Closing Date: 31-Dec-2012


Theme: Open

Length: 1,500 words maximum (Excluding title)

Prizes: £150 (1st), £75 (2nd), £50 (3rd), £10 x 3 (High Commendation).

Fees: £5 per story, or £8 for 2, £10 for 3, £12 for 4.

Publication: Yes. In Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine.


Enter online or by post here.