Overall, this was a lively bunch of poems. About half were quite weak, and could easily be moved on from. The other half demanded serious attention. Of these, the poems clustered into several interlocking themes, of family, love, faith, illness, death, and nature – classic themes, of course. Most of the poems felt like they could have used another edit or two – they remained a bit unsteady, with a few words, images, or phrases not quite holding their own with the rest. The 15 poems here were clearly stronger than the rest, and there were no other poets or poems that I felt might have scraped in. It was satisfying to see that, in the end, there were really fifteen very good or excellent poems to judge between.
The winning poem struck me as being very witty, and very well handled, in terms of its virtuosity of tone and style. It had a panache that reminded me of Larkin, or perhaps Douglas Dunn. Signs, in second place, was a more naive poem in some ways, but it had a just-so rightness to it, and a certain enigmatic and brief potency that made me feel it was a genuine poem, driven by poetic energies and feeling. Afterlife came in third, though I had some trouble working it out. I loved the second half, and the anachronism of the mobile phone and so on was clever, but I didn’t understand precisely why the mummified boy was older than the Pharaohs.
Of the Highly Commended, two appear to be by the same (and winning poet) – Lakeland Gothic and Remembered Dialect. I could tell by the voice/style which was like a thumbprint. I have no idea who this poet is, but I admire their work. Both these poems were witty and intelligent. Matilda is almost a very fine poem, with some satisfyingly strange aspects.
Of the Commended poems, I will say that each one of them, at one point, had a chance of being Highly Commended, if not a winner.
Each of them had moments of poetic pleasure and achievement, and with further work, these will be very good poems, and easily publishable. Steeple Gidding Church was very strange and funny and moving. Hourglass was very moving and well-crafted. Janus Tree was almost the winning poem, it had some great opening lines, but its form and presentation let it down a bit. Grapple Y was very clever. Love Match was formally adept, if a bit odd. The others also had some good moments.
I enjoyed judging again this year, and hope to do so again in future.
Dr Todd Swift
Director, Eyewear Publishing Ltd
SENTINEL LITERARY QUARTERLY POETRY COMPETITION (SEPTEMBER 2013)
Commended (in no order):
Seamus Harrington – Beachcombers
Jenny Donnison – Anguilla Anguilla
Jason Lytollis – Janus Tree
Jocelyn Simms – Grapple Y
John Gallas – Steeple Gidding Church
Sue M. Davies – Hourglass
Al McClimens – Love Match
Diane Jackman – Dying is not the time for crackpot theories
Joanne Fox – In the Jewellery Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum
Seth Insua – Matilda
Jason Lytollis – Remembered Dialect
Jason Lytollis – Lakeland Gothic
Jenny Donnison – Afterlife
Mark Totterdell – Signs
Jason Lytollis – The Book Town
Congratulations to the winners.
SENTINEL ANNUAL POETRY COMPETITION 2013
CLOSING DATE: 30 NOVEMBER 2013
FIRST PRIZE: £500 SECOND PRIZE: £250 THIRD PRIZE: £125
HIGH COMMENDATION: £25 X 5
For previously unpublished poems in English Language, on any subject, in any style, up to 60 lines long. Poets of all nationalities, age and gender living in any part of the world are eligible to enter.
JUDGE: ROGER ELKIN author of Marking Time & No Laughing Matter
FEES: £5 per poem for first 2 poems, £3.50 per subsequent poem
Enter online and pay securely by PayPal or download an Entry Form for postal entry at:
Cheques/Postal Orders in favour of SENTINEL POETRY MOVEMENT to
Sentinel Poetry Movement,
Unit 136, 113-115 George Lane, South Woodford, London E18 1AB