Sunday, 15 October 2017


JUDGE'S REPORT I have, over the past couple of years or so, been involved in a number of conversations in which someone has bemoaned the dearth of political poems. My response has invariably been a bemused What? From the lone poem in a regular journal, through individual collections, to issue-based anthologies and epic projects like 100 Thousand Poets for Change, poetry – like all the arts – is articulating local and global political concern/engagement/anger/fear/etc. on paper, on-line, and on walls.

It is of course legitimate to ask what use such poems are against the often overwhelming insurmountable-seeming challenges we – regardless of race, religion, or any other differences – face, both politically and environmentally. To the despairing (and I occasionally fall into that category myself), I’d suggest that poetry can give voice to the voiceless, can distil the core of human experience into engines of visceral communication at the sharpest edge of language, and in doing so can remind us of the strength of our shared humanity. It can also do a lot more, of course, but these are perhaps the most pressing calls upon the arts at present.

I was heartened by the number of poems submitted for the competition that focused on issues from the wilful decimation of the British NHS by a self-interested government, to human displacement on a global scale: and, beyond this, they were very good poems indeed. Both ‘Lethal Theory’ and ‘In transit’ are excellent examples. The former employs military acronyms and the impersonal language of medicine, perfectly balanced around the human tragedy of those caught up in events within which they are barely acknowledged. Specific, yet chillingly universal, the poem’s strength lies as much in what is avoided as what is said, culminating in the blunt negative of that unforgettable final line. The latter is a very different poem, but no less powerful, the second-person address and controlled vagueness concerning detail places the reader uncomfortably into a limbo without full stops that continually stacks the odds against the shadow of hope that is desperately introduced mid-way through the final stanza.

Lest all this imply a single-mindedness of approach to subject in my assessment of the range of poems submitted, the ekphrastic ‘Vanitas’ stood out as a beautifully tight response to a painting that – as with all the best poems of its type – goes way beyond its descriptive surface, tapping into questions of faith and very corporeal connections and absences, resolving into that rich image of the ‘thick and wrinkled’ wax. Additionally, of course, it vividly evokes the private, domestic space and the dangerous unknown without, as – in their own ways – do the previously discussed poems. And if there was one overriding theme that arose time and time again in the submitted poems, it was this idea of the home, with all of its connotations of security and fragility. Indeed, of those dozen poems that made my short-list, more than half directly addressed the theme in one way or another: an indication, perhaps, of a shared response to uncertain times in which we are more conscious of our need for the safe and the known – and, I hope, for a place in which to welcome and be welcomed.

The pleasure in judging this competition was the difficulty of the task, and in the reaffirmation of poetry’s – and art’s more generally – importance.

- Oz Hardwick

Results of the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2017)

Special Mentions:
Labile - Sharon Phillips
Surrender - Kelly Nunnerley
Your windows – L Thompson

Our Father – Michael Brown
Swinger - Kathleen Strafford
Some have entertained angels unawares - Inky

Highly Commended:
Frozen Ringtone - Maria Isakova Bennett
What does the heart mean in popular culture? - Sharon Phillips
The Softening - Diane Cook

Third Prize:
Vanitas – Gabriel Griffin

Second Prize:
In transit - Greta Ross

First Prize:
Lethal theory – Noel Williams

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Gap Year: Poetry from Andy Blackford & John Foggin

Gap Year: Poetry from Andy Blackford & John Foggin

Sentinel poets Andy Blackford and John Foggin shall be reading from their book Gap Year, winner of the SPM Publications Poetry Book Prize 2016, at the Staithes Festival of Arts & Heritage on Saturday, September 9th 2017.
Location: Viking Cottage, Seaton Garth. Venue: 96

About Gap Year: Middlesbrough, 1966: The young new English teacher, John Foggin, rolled into the Lower Sixth’s Eng. Lit. lesson like a Dyson into a world of broken Hoovers. Joyce and Shelley and Gerard Manley Hopkins danced in his wake, vividly alive and slightly intoxicated. That’s how it seemed to 16 year-old Andy Blackford, anyway. Almost 50 years later, they were reunited here in Staithes. Foggin was already a much-lauded poet - Blackford’s prime contribution to high culture, the TV jingle for Um Bongo. They resolved to write a poem each, every week for a year. The result is Gap Year, a collection that has won them the SPM Publications Poetry Book Prize and was published in April 2017.

Learn more about Gap Year here. | Buy from Amazon


Could your next book be a prizewinning poetry collection?

The SPM Publications Poetry Book Competition 2017 judged by Roger Elkin will close on September 30, 2017. This competition is for full length poetry collections in English language, on any subject, in any style. The final collection must be no more than 90 A4 pages long. For the first stage of the competition, send 20 pages of previously unpublished poetry.

Prizes: in addition to a standard publishing contract, there will also be cash prizes of £300 (first), £200 (second) and £100 (third). Each prizewinner will also receive 20 copies of his or her book.

There is an Entry/Reading fee of £25.00

See the full competition details, terms and publishing schedule at


Abegail Morley to judge the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (November 2017)

For original, previously unpublished poems in English language on any subject, in any style up to 50 lines long.
Closing Date: 30 November 2017
Judge: Abegail Morley
Prizes: £200 (1st), £100 (2nd), £50 (3rd), £20 x 3 (High Commendation), 3 x £10 (Commendation)
Fees: £4/1, £7/2, £9/3, £11/4, £12/5, £16/7, £22/10


Contact: |

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Results - Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition May 2017

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Enter Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition - on-going international open every 3 months...since 2009

Competition Details

Poems may be on any subject or style and must not have been previously published, or posted on a website or blog. Poems posted on members-only writing groups for workshop purposes as part of the creative process are not deemed to have been previously published. Poems must also not be under consideration for publication or accepted for publication elsewhere. Poets of all nationalities living anywhere in the world are eligible to enter.

          Length: Maximum 50 lines per poem
Entry Fees: £4/1 poem, £7/2 poems, £9/3 poems, £11/4 poems, £12.00/5 poems. (You may enter as many poems as you wish – with the applicable fees.)
Prizes: First: £200.00, Second: £100.00, Third: £50.00,
           Highly Commended: £20 x 3, Commended: £10 x 3.

First Publication: The winning and commended poems will be published in Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine
online (April - June 2017 issue on 30th April, 2017)

Results due: 15th July 2017 announced in Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine online at:
Judge: Anthony Watts, author of The Shell Gatherer
Competition Administration: Sentinel Poetry Movement

Enter Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition - on-going international open every 3 months...since 2009

Saturday, 1 April 2017

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Saturday, 25 March 2017

SPM Publications | HOT OFFERS - Discounts and Giveaways

Mother's Day Weekend Specials I Offers end 26th March, 2017 at 11:59pm
This weekend only, we have discounted three issues of Sentinel Literary Quarterly from £6 to £4.50 + P&P.
Get a copy of Pilgrim Station by Dominic James for just £5.95 + P&P
Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition Sensation! Enter 10 poems for £24 only and choose one of the three magazines on offer,
or just enter normally and save £1.00 on standard entry fees.

SPM Publications | HOT OFFERS - Discounts and Giveaways

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Anthony Watts to judge Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017)

Anthony Watts to judge Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017): We are pleased to announce that Anthony Watts will judge the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (May 2017). The competition which is open to all poets living in any part of the world wi...