Administrator’s Note

Please note that this competition was judged blind and the adjudication report was sent in by the Judge with only the titles of the winning and commended poems. I have matched the winners and their poems to make for easier reading.

-      Nnorom Azuonye (14/10/2014)


An adjudication report by Brindley Hallam Dennis


There were 73 entries, and I knew I was in trouble when my shortlist reached twenty.

        Adding one more to the list would have brought another nineteen in with it, and that didn’t help either. What I’m saying is that I enjoyed an awful lot of these stories. In fact, there were only a few – two or three – that I didn’t think had something good going for them; and two of those read like well-written articles, but they weren’t really short stories. For all you glass half full types out there, you could say, I found a lot of the stories to be lacking that little something that would make them winners!

        It’s only in competitions that you have to make these sort of judgements. Otherwise you take your shorts like an espresso, and enjoy them for what they are, in the moment, for you, as you are, at that moment. What’s it about? Do you care? How’s it written? Does the voice beguile you?

        As I sifted through I began to realise that the stories I wanted to celebrate most were somewhat oblique in form or content; forceful in their tellings, with voices that made me stop and listen; with subjects that caught my interest. The whole range was there: life death; love; comic; tragic; absurd; serious, and the rest. A few took what are becoming contemporary standards, and anything that everyone is talking about is hard to write about without becoming part of the undistinguishable murmur, or cacophony. Two, in my ‘Commended’ list were, I guessed, by the same author, having the same characters. I’d like to see those as part of a longer fiction – a novel perhaps?


Here’s my list, in traditionally reversed order:


Commended (in no particular order):


Till Death Us Do Part by Gareth Shore (Sale)

Fifty-Second Birthday in Bed by Christie Cluett (Bristol)

Odd Boy by Sharon Boyle (East Linton)

It’s Seven Letters You Need by Maxine Backus (Grueningen, Switzerland.)

Abide With Me by Maxine Backus (Grueningen, Switzerland.)


Highly Commended (in no particular order):


For Mike by Geoff Aird (Edinburgh)

Swan Sculpting in Leighton Buzzard by Katie Martin (Cambridge)

Oh How We Danced by Tony Crafter (Knockholt)


3rd Prize

The Eternal Knot by John Robinson (Newbury) – Complex, convoluted, philosophical. A conversation between an Old Man and a snake, on the huge subject of sentience – of being alive and knowing it; of being mortal, and knowing that too.


2nd Prize

Coffee-Coloured Eyes by Olga Vakruchev (Toronto, Canada) -Slipping into the surreal, but I never doubted this woman’s voice, nor her belief in her own story.


1st Prize

Killers at Fat Joe’s by Tom Serengeti (BERTSHAM , South Africa) – I think I liked the ambition of this most of all: daring to echo Hemingway’s title, and story, and do a riff on it. But I liked the spare descriptions and the dialogue too, and the unfolding events, and the characters, and their names, and the ending. I guess I would have liked the pizza too!    




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Letter Home & Biafran Nights Longlisted for $100,000 NLNG Prize

August 12, 2013, Letter Home & Biafran Nights (LBHN), the second poetry collection by Afam Akeh was longlisted for the $100,000 NLNG Nigeria Literature Prize 2013.

Published in December 2012 by SPM Publications – an imprint of Sentinel Writing & Publishing Company Ltd, LBHN has received critical acclaim from literary critics and scholars across the world.

All of us at Sentinel are quite optimistic that Letter Home & Biafran Nights will make the shortlist and possibly win the prize, but we must temper down this optimism in recognition of the quality and talents to be found in the other books which have also been longlisted for the prize, including Obi Nwakanma’s Birthcry, Tade Ipadeola’s The Sahara Testaments, former Sentinel Poetry (Online) editor Amatoritsero Ede’s Globetrotter and Hitler’s Children, ’Promise Ogochukwu’s Wild Letters, Gomba Obari’s Length of Eyes, Egbewo G’ebinyo’s Marsh Boy and Other Poems, Iquo Eke’s The Symphony of Becoming, Amu Nnadi’s Through the Window of a Sandcastle, Remi Raji’s Sea on My Mind and Launko Okinba’s Seven Stations Up the Stairways.

Letter Home & Biafran Nights is available at SPM Publications, Barnes & Noble, all Amazon sites and all good online stores.

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Sentinel Nigeria All-Africa Poetry Competition 2013 update

Samuel Ugbechie wins the first Sentinel Nigeria All-Africa Poetry Competition.

The results of the competition sent in by judge Chiedu Ezeanah has named ‘Greenland’ and the first placed poem. The full results are as follows:


Dumka Bie  – “Drums from the Swamp”

Samuel Ugbechie – “Shiroro Diary”

Joshua Idowu Omidire – “Awero”


Third Prize: Shittu Fowora – “He!”

Second Prize: Adeeko Ibukun – “Breathing History”


The judge’s report will be published here over the weekend.

Congratulations to the prizewinners.

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Judge’s Report on the Sentinel Nigeria All-Africa Short Story Competition 2013

By Jude Dibia


The beauty of the short story form is its ability of depicting a character’s inner conflict or conflict with others, usually having one thematic focus. It was the writer Edgar Allan Poe who first defined the short story as the attempt to achieve a single, focused effect. So, unlike the novel that allows a writer to veer off various directions, using a number of characters and other literary effects towards reaching a denouement, the short story writer tries to crystallize an idea into a compact readable piece that, even if the territory may be quite familiar, or the narrative a familiar one, offers startling, new insights. It is always important to remember this when writing or reading a short story—no idea or story is original any more as writers have written on just about every topic and theme there is to write about. What remains original is a writer’s take on a familiar issue and the insights uncovered. And of course, one must never forget good writing to begin with.


I felt honoured to be asked once again to judge the Sentinel Short Story Competition. As a writer, I understand the pains that come with birthing a new story and I am quite familiar with the anxiety that comes with acceptance and recognition; the need for endorsement and the reassurance that follows one’s work being recognized as good or even excellent. Up and coming writers do need platforms like the ones created by Sentinel, not only as booster for their self esteem, but also as a means of getting their works and names out there and, hopefully improving their craft.


Close to 100 short stories were submitted for this edition of the competition and it was a huge task reading all the stories and trying to sift through the entries in order to come up with a shortlist of the very best stories. Sadly though, quite a number of the entries submitted suffered from syntax issues and a few exhibited a poor grasp of the short story form.  In general, all the entries lacked something. It was quite sad to observe a certain level of nonchalance in the way many (not all) of the stories were packaged and submitted. I also observed that many of the stories lacked the universal feel and remained parochial.

However, I must commend all the entries and writers for the boldness to write on diverse themes.

Sadly though, I was not able to identify any winners in this edition of the competition. Underneath is a list of five highly commended stories in no particular order:

·         The Editor’s Spike – for its immediacy and chilling denouement and the writer also showed a lot of promise.

·         Esmeralda – The writing was interesting and exhibited some depth and control.

·         The Light and the Exorcist – there was a good use of foreshadowing in this story and the writer was able to hold my interest till the end.

·         Generations – In the use of limited words, the writer was able to tell a lavish family story of three generations of women.

·         Our Dreams have gone out – showed a lot of promise.


Administrator’s note

It is an unfortunate and sad situation that the judge of this competition Jude Dibia was not persuaded that any of the stories entered deserved to win the first, second or third prizes. He has made recommendations to us about the disbursal of the prize fund to the authors of the 5 Highly Commended stories. The Sentinel Nigeria board will meet within the week to decide on the best way to reward the commended authors who all automatically qualify for the Highly Commended Prize of N4,000 each, this leaves us with N57,000 of the Prize Fund to work with, and we shall make sure that this amount is equally applied for the benefit of the authors either as additional cash or provision of service or products that will assist their growth as writers.

The 5 highly commended authors are in no particular order:

1.      Thomas Szendrei (South Africa) – The Editor’s Spike

2.      Cuba Ukoh (Nigeria) – Esmeralda

3.      Abokhaiso Cathreya Fatima (Nigeria) – The Light and the Exorcist

4.      Folakemi Emem-Akpan (Nigeria) – Generations

5.      Olorunfunmi Temitope (Nigeria) – Our Dreams Have Gone Out

Further information will be released before the end of the week.



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Current Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Sentinel Nigeria and Sentinel Annual Poetry & Short Story Competitions

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (September 2012)

Prizes: £150, £75, £50, 3 x £10

Entry Fees: £3 for 1 poem, £11/4 poems, £12/5 poems.

Judge: Andy Willoughby

Closing on the 30th September 2012


Sentinel Literary Quarterly Short Story Competition (September 2012)

Prizes: £150, £75, £50, 3 x £10

Entry Fees: £5 for 1 story, £8/2 stories, £10/3 stories, £12/4 stories.

Judge: Jeremy Page

Closing on the 30th September 2012


Sentinel Nigeria All-Africa Poetry Competition (November 2012)

Open to all professional and amateur writers from Africa living within or outside the continent.

Prizes: N35,000.00, N20,000.00, N10,000.00, 3 x N4,000.00

Entry Fees: N450/£2.50/$3.95 per poem.

Judge: Chiedu Ezeanah

Closing date: 30th November 2012


Sentinel Nigeria All-Africa Short Story Competition (November 2012)

Open to all professional and amateur writers from Africa living within or outside the continent.

Prizes: N35,000.00, N20,000.00, N10,000.00, 3 x N4,000.00

Entry Fees: N450/£2.50/$3.95 per story.

Judge: Jude Dibia

Closing date: 30th November 2012


Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2012

Open to all.

Prizes: £500, £250, £125, 5 x £25

Entry Fees: £5 per poem for the first 2 poems, £3.50 per poem thereafter.

Judge: Roger Elkin

Closing on the 30th November 2012


Sentinel Annual Short Story Competition 2012

Open to all.

Prizes: £500, £250, £125, 5 x £25

Entry Fees: £5 per story for the first 2 stories, £3.50 per story thereafter.

Judge: David Caddy

Closing on the 30th November 2012


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Sentinel Literary Movement of Nigeria invites professional and amateur African writers living in Africa or anywhere in the African diaspora to enter the maiden Sentinel Nigeria All-Africa Poetry and Short Story competitions closing on 30th November 2012.

Judged by Jude Dibia (fiction) and Chiedu Ezeanah (poetry), the Sentinel Nigeria All-Africa writing competitions offer prize monies of N35,000 (First), N20,000 (Second), N10,000 (Third) and 3 x N4,000 (High Commendation) in each category of fiction and poetry, or the Pound Sterling/Dollar equivalent if a winner lives outside Nigeria.

The winning and commended authors will also receive first publication of their successful entries in Sentinel Nigeria magazine.

These competitions are administered by SPAWN MEDIA SERVICES (A trading style of Sentinel Literary Movement of Nigeria)

For more details, competition rules and conditions for entry, visit

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Ezeanah, Dibia to judge the first Sentinel Nigeria Writing Competitions.

We pleased to announce that poet Chiedu Ezeanah and novelist Jude Dibia will judge the maiden Sentinel Nigeria All-Africa Poetry and Short Story Competitions. The competitions modelled after the successful Sentinel Literary Quarterly writing competitions series will be open to African writers living anywhere on the continent and in the Diaspora, and will be run every three months.

Sentinel Poetry Movement has been running writing competitions since 2004, with the Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry (since July 2009) and Short Story competitions (since January 2010) regular fixtures in the international competitions environment that prize excellent writing. It is our hope that the new Sentinel Nigeria competitions series will create a buzz within the African writing community and encourage more regular creative output.

Competition period

The first competitions will be announced in Sentinel Nigeria magazine on the 15th of August and will accept entries until the 30th of November, 2012. The results will be announced in Sentinel Nigeria in January 2012 and the winning poems and stories will be published in issue #13 of the magazine on in February 2013.


There will be prizes of N35,000 (First), N20,000 (second), N10,000 (third) and 3 high commendation prizes of N4,000 in each category. That is a total of N154,000 in combined prize fund for the quarter.


The winning and commended poems and short stories will be published in February 2013 in a new section of Sentinel Nigeria magazine to be known as Sentinel Nigeria Champions – a downloadable eBook which will be free to members of our Mailing List.  Hard copies of Sentinel Nigeria champions will be available for anyone who likes the feel of paper. Copyright to the published work will remain with the authors at all times.

To enter the competition now, visit


The Sentinel Nigeria All-Africa Poetry and Short Story competitions will be administered by SPAWN Media Services – a business style of Sentinel Literary Movement of Nigeria. SPAWN is Sentinel Poets, Artists and Writers Network.

If you have any questions regarding this announcement, contact Nnorom Azuonye, Founder/Administrator, Sentinel Poetry Movement 

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FREE Sentinel Champions #10 eBook

sentinel champions 10 coverIf you would like to receive a free copy of the Sentinel Champions magazine eBook, all you have to do is join the Sentinel Nigeria/SPAWN Media Services Mailing List before midnight on 6th July 2012.

All members will receive the eBook in the morning on the 7th of July.

Our list members will receive freebies from time to time, and will be the first to know what’s on offer from Sentinel Nigeria. Join here:

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Uche Nduka, Sentinel Nigeria #11 Guest Writer

The editors of Sentinel Nigeria – the online magazine of contemporary Nigerian writing are pleased to announce that Uche Nduka will be the guest writer in the 11th issue of the magazine due live on the 15th of August 2012.

The Nduka feature will showcase 3 poems from Ijele and 3 previously unpublished poems to appear only in Sentinel Nigeria, the number 1 destination for new Nigerian writing. Nduka will also be interviewed by Nnorom Azuonye, the founder of Sentinel Poetry Movement and publisher of Sentinel Nigeria magazine.

Uche Nduka is a leading Nigerian poetic voice and author of Flower Child, (Update Communications, 1988), Second Act, (1994), The Bremen Poems, (New Leaf Press, 1995), Chiaroscuro, (Yeti Press, 1997), Belltime Letters, (New Leaf Press, 2000), Heart’s Field, (Yeti Press, 2005), eel on reef, (Akashic Books, 2007) and Ijele, (Overpass Books, 2012).

To receive notification by e-mail as soon as this issue of Sentinel Nigeria is published, click here to join our mailing list.


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Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (April 2012) Nigerian Entrants

Entry Guidelines for writers in Nigeria

About the competition: The Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition has been held every 3 months since July 2009 for previously unpublished poems in English Language on any subject in any style up to 50 lines long (Excluding title). Poems entered must not have been accepted or be under consideration for publication elsewhere, and must not be simultaneously entered into another poetry competition. The poems must also not have been posted to any publicly accessible website or blog. Entries from Nigeria will go into the general pool with entries from every other part of the world.

Prizes: N39,750.00 (£150.00) First Prize, N19,875.00 (£75.00) Second Prize, N13,250.00 (£50.00) Third Prize, N2,650.00 (£10.00) x 3 High Commendation. All winning and commended poems also receive publication in Sentinel Champions magazine in print and eBook formats.

Entry Fees: 1 poem N795.00 (£3.00), 2 poems N1,590.00 (£6.00), 3 poems N2,385.00 (£9.00), 4 poems N2,915.00 (£11.00), and 5 poems N3,180.00. You may enter as many poems as you wish.

Closing Date: 5-April-2012

Results due: 30-April-2012 announced in Sentinel Literary Quarterly

Judge: Miles Cain – author of The Border.

How to Enter

1. Go to any Mainstreet Bank, formerly Afribank and pay the applicable entry fee as stated above. Enter as many poems as you wish. Payment in favour of SKOONEF BUSINESS LTD. A/C Number 0032868337628. In the Depositor’s Name field, write your name followed in brackets by SLQPOE0412. e.g. Depositor’s Name: Naija Poet (SLQPOE0412).

2. Send your poem or poems, together with your Cover Note stating your name, postal address, email address, telephone number and title(s) of your poem(s) as Word or rtf attachments to Please note: Your name or any other identifying mark must not appear on the poem. If you are unable to attach your work, please type them in the body of the e-mail. In the subject line of your e-mail please type: SLQ POETRY APRIL 2012 (SKF)

3. Entries must reach us before midnight 5th April, 2012


PLEASE NOTE: The entry fees and prizes are based on a fixed exchange rate of N265 to £1.00 and will be maintained whether rates rise or fall. This makes it easy for entrants and Sentinel.

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