We are pleased to announce the results of the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry and Short Story Competitions, September 2012. It feels great to find some names among the winners who have previously won a Sentinel competition or have been commended in one. We will continue to honour all the writers who support the Sentinel competitions with their work.
That so many of you, gifted writers from across the world still dip into your hard-earned money in these hard times to support our competitions is truly amazing. We will continue to treat you and your work with respect and as usual progress the winning and commended ones to publication.
SENTINEL LITERARY QUARTERLY POETRY COMPETITION,
This was a very hard competition to judge as the top 30 poems at least were of a very high standard. In the end though the winner was very clear to me – Roadworks takes us from a mundane moment through the substrata into the hidden city and into the submerged world of the imaginary – then back again. It’s ambitious, well-crafted and ultimately has the ability to astonish both in its shifting perspectives and in its language.
I picked all three top poems as they had this aspect to them – they take us from the mundane to the extraordinary, they are not afraid of the lyrical image, the language in them sings and for me in these dark times this is necessary – plain language that nails a truth is always welcome but we shouldn’t lose the aspect of the language that sings under pressure bequeathed to us by the likes of Dylan Thomas who is well due a re-evaluation.
This aspect was apparent in all three winners though they are also discursive and routed in a real moment. 23 Fitzroy Road moves so well from the pillowcases of the everyday to past satori to the rituals of the dead, Double Take plunges us through an Alice type mirror putting intense pressure on the discourses of an epiphanic moment.
The Highly commended are all fine and worthy of publishing – Omulungi Yani was impressive with its social intent and lyrical use of heteroglossia, Before Leaving Fort McMurray, Alberta creates an uneasy and beautiful moment of existential self-realisation in a specific and strange landscape and Reading Habits is an unflinching and well boiled down moment of mature judgement with one of the best anti-poetic first lines I’ve read.
The other 9 commended poems are all good publishable well-crafted poems in a variety of forms, potential winners and I really enjoyed reading them all.
A Present – HAMUTAL BAR-YOSEF (Jerusalem, Israel)
1963 – SMH DAVIES (Hants. UK)
Stalker – SMH DAVIES (Hants. UK)
Sunday School – ANDY FAWTHROP (Wilts. UK)
Crack – ANDY FAWTHROP (Wilts. UK)
In the Tattoo Shop – MARGARET HOLBROOK (Cheshire, UK)
Stairs – MORWENNA JAMES (London, UK)
To the Supermarket with James – MARTIN WILDMAN (Devon. UK)
Look at Him – DAVID PAUL JONES (Winster. UK)
Before Leaving Fort McMurray, Alberta – MEGAN REEVES (Ontario, Canada)
Reading Habits – DAVID CLARKE (Cheltenham, UK)
Omulungi Yani – MIGUEL SAPORTA (Almeria, Spain)
Double Take – STELLA WULF (Haute Garonne, France)
23 Fitzroy Road, Primrose Hill – SMH DAVIES (Hants. UK)
Roadworks – TERRY JONES (Carlisle, UK)
SENTINEL LITERARY QUARTERLY SHORT STORY COMPETITION,
The first story I read set the bar very high and, perhaps as a result, I was able to arrive at a long list of thirteen stories relatively swiftly. I was struck by how varied in subject and execution these stories were: their only common characteristic was the quality of the writing. There were other stories that didn’t reach the long list that achieved a comparable degree of quality in places – and provided compelling evidence that their authors could really write – but what was missing from these, in most cases, was consistency. They were let down by a loose sentence or paragraph here or a lazy cliché there, or by an ending that didn’t quite achieve the effect it aspired to. Thus the standard of all thirteen stories on my long list really was very high, and it was with the task of arriving at a short list of six that the hard work really began.
I knew from an early stage in this process which story would be my winner, but there were more than two others that manifestly merited a prize. After many readings my final seven stories were whittled down to six, and it then became a question of finding reasons not to place three from this number. While this seemed a sensible approach in theory, in practice it proved to be more easily said than done. In the end, I went for the stories that seemed to me to take the most delight in their use of language to achieve something truly original.
Highly commended stories
The Old Man from the Garden
I appreciated the subtle, understated way in which this story explored the abstract theme of virtue. A sense of place was memorably evoked, the writing beautifully measured.
Just Enough Light
This story, through the accumulation of small, telling details, manages to convey a sense of a whole way of life in very few words. The setting may be exotic but the message is a curiously familiar, almost universal one.
The chummy, familiar tone of the narrator belies the dark heart of this story, which graphically and memorably documents the torment of wasted lives. Obituary echoes with the loud ring of truth.
A sense of menace and the expectation of evil are skilfully evoked in this story, mostly through reference to the physical features of the environment in which it is set. There is nothing to prepare the reader for the final surprise, yet what is suggested in the last, telling sentence seems somehow incontrovertibly right and true.
Mind the Gap
This was the most obviously ludic of the stories submitted, in that it played shamelessly with language and with the creative possibilities of the word gap, allowing an extraordinary range of reference in remarkably few words. The story’s great achievement is to harness this exuberant wordplay into a compelling narrative.
Beautifully written, technically assured, The Decision tells a painful story in language that is sharp, precise, pared to the bone. Not a word is wasted here, every sentence, phrase and word playing its part in the achievement of an artfully achieved whole. This is one of those stories you know will haunt you. A very worthy winner.
26 October 2012
The Old Man from the Garden – LEO MADIGAN (Portugal)
Just Enough Light – Mandy Huggins (Cleckheaton, UK)
Obituary – James Collett (Cheltenham, UK)
Stump – Brindley Hallam Dennis (Wigton, UK)
Mind the Gap – James Stark (Seattle, USA)
The Decision – Virginia Winters (Ontario, Canada)
‘The Decision’, ‘Mind the Gap’, ‘Stump’, ‘Roadworks’, ’23 Fitzroy Road, Primrose Hill’, and ‘Double Take’ will appear in the Sentinel Champions section of Sentinel Literary Quarterly (Print & eBook only) in April 2013.
‘Before Leaving Fort McMurray’, ‘Reading Habits’, ‘Omulungi Yani’, ‘A Present’, ‘1963’, ‘Sunday School’, ‘Crack’, ‘In the Tattoo Shop’, ‘Stairs’, ‘Stalker’, ‘To the Supermarket with James’, ‘Look at Him’, The Old Man from the Garden’, ‘Just Enough Light’, and ‘Obituary’ will appear in the Sentinel Champions section of Sentinel Literary Quarterly magazine (Online & eBook only) in April 2013.
Formal notifications of achievement and publishing permissions will be sent to all winning and commended authors within 7 working days. Any question or clarification regarding publication, or any aspect of our competitions (except the judges’ decisions) should be sent by e-mail to Sandra Felix firstname.lastname@example.org