Imagine my delight when I received an email to say that a poem of mine had been Highly Commended in last year’s Sentinel Competition. Imagine my despair when they told me that somehow they had judged a poem that had already been published in Mandy Pannett’s outstanding anthology Poems for a Liminal Age, and not either of the two I sent? I have told them of course and whatever happens next is up to them but I am going to share with the you the adjudication because it pleased me and because whether the triumph or the disappointment results, this is what I will value above all.
Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015
by Afam Akeh
Oonah V Joslin
With only eight lines, this is one of many excellent short poems in this competition but ‘Toronto Girl’ caught my special attention because of its subversive form.
In the pacy run-on lines ofits first stanza, things, thoughts, places and moments seem to happen and then quickly move over or away, to be replaced by other seemingly unconnected things, thoughts, places and moments
There is constant movement, no breaks or stops (as the poem itself notes), and ultimately the sense of an inadequately lived, frenetic or freaked out life, mostly going through the motions of experience. There is the suggestion of the post modern in this unsettled, uncommitted sampling of a gap-filled life
Slender quick how you think no consonance no consequence no breaks
events through / the day like cup of coffee double shot no lid no lip you
flit among high rise traffic / fumes and sun-
glint twenty four carat bank finger-sampling sushi mall-bites a / fluttering cyber-walk mannequin ear-plugging louder to drown the surround sound / long into the slim-line stream-line uniform casino Niagara night falls.
A slow reading of the enjambed lines yields fruit, connecting for the reader the experiences of an eventful but perfectly ordinary metropolitan day. Ironically, it is in the staccato bursts of the much shorter lines in stanza two that we get amore complete sense of living as an ordered human experience.
A representation of life as a series of passing, possibly unsatisfactory, non-relational activities continues in this final part of the poem, but the clipped lines also successfully convey a fuller sequence of meaningful experience
golden girl awakes
another gadget-day to go
I am in A New Ulster 44. I am in Bewildering Stories twice in June to do with with Poppies and Roses —
and I have some work in Postcard Poems and Prose Even a Myth Needs Love. and I have a small collection Three Pounds of Cells coming out later this year published by Linnet’s Wings Press. I have chosen the Autumn poems and so summer is doable 🙂
And most of all I am looking forward to seeing my sister this month. I won’t complain.