Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Results & Judges’ Reports, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry & Short Story Competitions, September 2012

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.





Adjudication Report


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.


Andy Willoughby





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)


Highly Commended


Before Leaving Fort McMurray, Alberta – MEGAN REEVES (Ontario, Canada)

Reading Habits – DAVID CLARKE (Cheltenham, UK)

Omulungi Yani – MIGUEL SAPORTA (Almeria, Spain)


Third Prize


Double Take – STELLA WULF (Haute Garonne, France)


Second Prize


23 Fitzroy Road, Primrose Hill – SMH DAVIES (Hants. UK)


First Prize


Roadworks – TERRY JONES (Carlisle, UK)






Adjudication Report


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.


Third prize




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.


Second prize


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.


First prize


The Decision


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.


Jeremy Page

26 October 2012


Highly Commended


The Old Man from the Garden – LEO MADIGAN (Portugal)

Just Enough Light – Mandy Huggins (Cleckheaton, UK)

Obituary – James Collett (Cheltenham, UK)


Third Prize


Stump – Brindley Hallam Dennis (Wigton, UK)


Second Prize


Mind the Gap – James Stark (Seattle, USA)


First Prize


The Decision – Virginia Winters (Ontario, Canada)


First publication


‘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

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Facebook is Borg



This spectre invades your life. A vampire fly,

proboscis latches on to your navel. It sucks and sucks,

sucks you into itself. It is a monstrous quicksand.


Every cell in your brain initially rejects Facebook

and you abhor those contemptible colleagues who have

become one with the collective; those vain, infantile,

boredom-whipped pizza-munching slobs sharing lifeless lives

with strangers in that blue time-killing kingdom

of the work-droughted insecure God-forsaken dolts.


Then one morning you take leave of your senses

or your senses take leave of you, whichever is foolisher,

you accept the frigging invitation and begin to feel

the full force of social network voodoo; There’s a fan page

for Seven of Nine’s chest zone, Spock, the great Worf

and everything else under the stars.


You even get a chance to airbrush your sorry life.

You offer no resistance at all, secretly wishing you could,

but really don’t want to, and you yield, poor mortal,

resistance is futile. Facebook is Borg.


Fully conscripted now. Enslaved. Screwed-up,

you earnestly build your home a-web from home,

reconnect with old times, old mates, and old flames.

Discover who’s made it and who’s fallen off the S.U.V.

You collect friends of every colour, male, female,

dual-gendered, straight, bent, asexual, hot and cold,

rich and poor, the famous, wannabes and the nameless –

you collect them all, even those Satan-loving bigots

tributing pages to cold-blooded murderers and bandits.

You gather them like a cursed collector of wandering spirits.

You take all the monsters into your home.


Thanks to Google, Bing, Yahoo! and their search boxes,

you scrub the web for words of the wise. Paraphrase

great minds of our time, or heroes of bygone days -

pass off their inspired sayings as yours, and sit back

and smile as your friends masturbate your thieving ego:

‘brother, that’s deep, your mind is amazing’

‘sister, you go girl, keep telling us, we are learning.’

‘like’, ‘like’, ‘like’, One hundred friends like this, or that,

and your head swells, and swells, and swells.


Facebook is Borg. 

Checkmate! You have been assimilated.


©2010 Nnorom Azuonye

Sunday, October 21, 2012

“The Champions Sportsman is an important, intelligent film that will change how the Nollywood comedy is perceived.” – Azubuike Erinugha

Azubuike Erinugha is a Nigerian poet, actor, screenwriter and film director  living in Germany. His film, ‘The Asylum’, directed by Obi Emelonye received its world premiere at the Odeon cinema, Surrey Quays, London in May 2008. Azubuike has come up with a new movie: ‘The Champion Sportsman‘ (TCS), a comedy that serves as a sugar coating in the film’s study of the misadventures of an immigrant in Europe. TCS stars funny man John Okafor (Mr Ibu, Uncle Wayward) and the queen of mean, Patience Ozokwor.

Azubuike talks to Nollywood Focus publisher, NNOROM AZUONYE.


You currently teach Business English in Germany.  How long have you done this?


I teach Business English to very interesting groups of students who are mainly adults and company managers. I have been doing this and enjoying it for almost five years now. It is a very challenging and rewarding experience to rub minds with business executives who are on top of their game. It keeps me striving for excellence in everything I do.


How then did you become involved in filmmaking?


I have always been involved in writing for the stage and screen as well as productions right from my college days. I guess I seriously got involved in filmmaking when I was accepted to join the team of writers of the acclaimed NTA network comedy, ‘Icheoku’. The production set was then at NTA 8 Enugu, just like the sets of ‘The New Masquerade’ and ‘Basi and Company’ were at the ABS Channel 50 also in Enugu. It was during the productions of these TV series I discovered how interested I'd come to be with all the actor-camera-director relationships. That was the point I made up my mind to be get into the business of film. With all the great things happening in Nollywood, I knew that I had much to contribute. My ambition is to create memorable issues films that will form an important part of Nollywood and global history of film development.



I attended the premiere of “The Asylum”. As far as I know, it never went on general release or on to DVD. Any reason for that?


‘The Asylum’ never went on big screen theatrical release because I was not stationed on ground, in Nigeria, to push the film towards that direction. Back then in 2008, mainstream theatrical releases in London spearheaded by films like ‘The Mirror Boy’ was not what Nollywood films did. It was also difficult to pursue that alongside my job which was already becoming quite successful and extremely demanding on my time. I left the promotion and distribution task to some other people who were apparently not skilled in film marketing and exhibition. This is a major issue with Nollywood, of course. However, ‘The Asylum’ later made it to DVD and VCD where all the initial copies available were sold off. The marketer and I have recently agreed to introduce more copies into the market.


What was it like working with Emelonye on that film, and given his massive international successes with ‘The Mirror Boy’ and ‘Last Flight to Abuja’, will you consider working with him on a future film?


I started working with Obi Emelonye right from our days at the university. He helped us in building Ide Theatre Group, the Abia State University's first private theatre. He later directed me in an excerpt of Esiaba Irobi's Hangmen Also Die which  later led to me directing the entire play.  I played the major role of Metumaribe in Emelonye’s own play ‘Claws of the Hawk’. We also worked together during a command presentation of Chris Abani's ‘Song of a Goat’.  You can now see that working with him again on ‘The Asylum’ was like a homecoming! We worked with most of our Ide Theatre Group members about fifteen years later.  Obi's successes with ‘The Mirror Boy’ and ‘Last Flight to Abuja’ never came to me as any surprise because we have always known this fact and only waited patiently for it to manifest. There are still many more crazy concepts in the offing, and naturally, I am following those footsteps.


You made another film ‘The Plumber’ before ‘The Asylum’. Did you direct that yourself?


No, I didn't direct ‘The Plumber’. I wrote and produced it because I didn't want it to be one-sided by directing it as well, especially because it was my first major film production. But I wasn't happy with the project so I decided not to release it. I plan to redo the entire project at the right time with much better resources and materials.


Let’s talk now about ‘The Champion Sportsman’. What is this film about and why should people go to the cinema to see it?


‘The Champion Sportsman’ is a reality-based comedy with a storyline one can almost touch with the finger. You feel it happening around you and sometimes you wonder if it a personal story of someone you know. Only that that someone you know happens to be John Okafor, Mr. Ibu, who arrives Germany with the passport and visas of a sportsman.  For him to stay in the country, he has to prove his sportsmanship! This is where the comedy springs up in an apparent tragedy. People are encouraged to see this film not just because it is differently hilarious but for the important topic of migration, situations of immigrants in their host countries as compared to the reactions and expectations of family members and friends back home. Last week I was invited to speak at the European Integration Forum of the European Commission on this topic where ‘The Champion Sportsman’ was presented to policy makers and administrators. ‘The Champion Sportsman’ is on the way to becoming an accepted enlightenment tool for both the African migrants and European host audiences. Whatever we have seen as comedy in Nollywood is replaced intelligently in ‘The Champion Sportsman’.



Shed some light on your experience of working with funny man John Okafor? He is in no shape to convince anybody that he is a sportsman, is he? What was the reason to cast him in this unlikely role and did he carry it off?


No other could have played the role of Okoro in TCS better than John Okafor, Mr. Ibu! Yes, he is in no sportive shape but he's already endowed with that original disconnection seen in his perfect portrayal of the migrating character. He is the most unlikely cast for this role but that exactly is the irony that pushes the hard humour forward! No doubt he is a born comedian as well as a believable actor. It was fun, big fun all the way working with him. At the end of the shooting we had problems selecting our materials because the guy is just too funny! He is very calm and down to earth, understanding and portraying his character to the point! Of course I had a couple of clashes with him because he almost turned our set into a somewhat comedy spot. We wasted a lot of precious time on trying stop Mr. Ibu from entertaining, albeit distracting, the cast and crew members with his unending jokes. It was difficult because those entertained saw me as uptight and a workaholic dictator. But I had to put my foot down if we must wrap. Whenever we fought it got even worse because the whole shouting and name calling turned funny again! Above all, it was real fun and I will do my best to work with John Okafor again and again.


Patience Ozokwor. There was a time she only played mean women in Nollywood movies. Does she play a role to love or hate in The Champion Sportsman?


She plays her roles true to life with her personal touch of exaggerations and I am sure that is what got her to where she is today as one of top, bankable Nollywood actors ever. In TCS she plays the role a typical village woman. The role a mother would play when her son has suddenly gone to live in Germany! She is also comic because she thinks the time to recognize her importance in life has finally come and it has to be rubbed into people's faces. I am sure every member of the audience would love to hate her after seeing The Champion Sportsman, but cannot fail to recognise the kind of woman she plays in this movie. Patience Ozokwor is really an outstanding talent and I say this, Nollywood is enriched by having her work in the industry. She is smart. She is funny. She is a very kind woman in real life and fun to be with. Nothing at all like some of the characters she has played on screen. 


Nollywood has been making waves in British cinemas with such films as ‘The Mirror Boy’, ‘Tango with Me’, and ‘Amina’ generating quite some interest. What achievements do you expect ‘The Champion Sportsman’ to add to the Nollywood phenomenon in Britain?


I expect ‘The Champion Sportsman’ to change the perception of Nollywood comedy films as struggling too hard to make audiences laugh at somewhat stupid and unrounded characterisations with ill-conceived gag situations, dialogues and gestures. ‘The Champion Sportsman’ does not set out to make the audience laugh in the first place. It presents an identified problem of an identified people and breaks this problem down to mentor and inspire us into action. Along the line some of these identified situations may evoke the same laughter we are aware of without distracting us from the original theme of the art. Don't get me wrong, ‘The Champion Sportsman’ remains a comedy set in the midst of real serious issues.


You are one of the Nollywood film-makers working mainly outside Nigeria. Do you have any advantages over Nigeria-based film-makers?


I don't think I have any advantages over Nigeria-based film-makers. What I'd prefer is a situation where all of us should come together and start working on how to improve the film industry. All these ideas of comparisons and working differently from totally different angles without any reasonable central cohesion makes no sense at all. That said, who am I to dictate to others on how their work patterns should be?


Why do you seem to make mostly comedies?


Simple. I enjoy making people laugh. I am happy with my life when I see people around me laughing, especially when my work is the source of the laughter. 


Offer an honest assessment of Nollywood at the moment. Is there any truth to claims that in search of international acceptance, Nollywood film-makers are gradually dumping the traditional Nigerian stories that made Nollywood what it is in the first place?


I agree that some of us African based filmmakers have totally ignored the basis that even set up the Nollywood industry. I don't want to go into colonial mentality theories but the filmmakers are not the only ones guilty in this regard. The distributors, the executive producers, the cinema owners, the audiences; what are they doing about it? It is a case of demand and supply. If I make a traditional Nollywood film and no one wants to distribute it, no cinema wants to show it because they are afraid the audience wouldn't want to see it, do you expect me to make the same kind of movie next time? Until we start placing values in ourselves and what we have as a people, it will always be the same old story.



Where would you like to see Nollywood in 5 to 10 years?


I would like to see Nollywood as the real pride of African media not only for entertainment but also to inform and educate its own people.


Tell me the one Nollywood film made between 1995 and 2012 that you wish you had made, and why?


I wish I made that Nkem Owoh's ‘Ikuku’ because I see a lot of potentials that are totally ignored in such a super storyline. Imagine a top educated man dragged home to the village by the gods to become a deity priest? Powerful storyline, I think.


What is next for you after The Champion Sportsman?


Two TV series and two films. I am still working on which one to be realised first. One of the TV series will be based in Berlin because the target is the German audience. The other is a TV comedy situated in a hospital in Nigeria aimed at exposing the poor and sometimes ridiculous health delivery system in our country. I hope that this film will generate discussion and push for change in our healthcare system. Our country will fare better if we are a healthy people. The films promise to be wild, insane and very very funny.


Will you be personally attending the UK Premiere of The Champion Sportsman. I am sure members of the audience will have questions for you?


Yes, I will be there at the Greenwich Odeon for the UK premiere of The Champion Sportsman. I have also written to my German co-producers who are working on their schedules to find time and accompany me to the event.


Thanks for talking to Nollywood Focus.


You are welcome, Nnorom! Thanks a lot, for having me.


© October 2012. Nnorom Azuonye & Nollywood Focus


The Champion Sportsman will receive its UK premiere at the Odeon Greenwich on the 9th of November.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

When Truth Pretends to be a Lie


It does get a little burdensome to read people talking about their intolerance of the truth all the time. Like some kind of mission statement in life. It tends to appear like posturing. "Look at me I am an honest person and I cannot stand those who are dishonest." I suspect that the best way, in my own opinion, what do I know? People ought to endeavour to lead honest lives. Live the truth as they know it. Trust me, people will notice what kind of person you are and dishonest people will not be attracted to you. Always ramming it into people all the time is just...'words'. In my 45 years on this planet, I have known so many truths and I have known so many lies. I have known so many lies that are actually truths and so many truths that are indeed lies. I have also known so many truths that pretend to be lies as there have been many lies that pretend to be truths. Every lie or truth is born of a reason or habit and is sufficient in its own purpose which may or may not satisfy those who come in contact with it.

My comment above was in response to Evelyn Ukamaka Olisakwe’s Facebook status below:

I have learned to never bother myself with those who are averse to truth, full stop. Life is too short to waste one's breath trying to prove the stark truth to them. And know this, when people begin to (deliberately) turn a blind eye to truth; when they begin to justify evil with flurry and smart words, it is an indication that they are really dangerous..

What is the truth? Is it worth a bother?


Thursday, October 11, 2012


Amina Premiere Poster

You are invited to be a part of African cinema experience and exciting Nollywood glamour at the prestigious EMPIRE LEICESTER SQUARE – the hub of film activity in London.


Who is in AMINA?


Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde - the beautiful, talented darling of African cinema audiences recently seen in Obi Emelonye’s “Last Flight to Abuja” leads a cast including VAN VICKER, WIL JOHNSON, VINCENT REGAN, ALISON CAROLL  and NICOLE DE SOUZA.


Amina is written and directed by CHRISIAN ASHAIKU.


What is it about?


AMINA tells a deeply emotional and dramatic story dealing with the themes of love, loss and redemption.  Told in flashback, AMINA is about the life of a gifted young woman (Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde) who, devastated by a series of life changing events suffers a total breakdown and finds herself incarcerated in a mental hospital. Only one person can help Amina, her doctor (Wil Johnson), but he must overcome his own demons before he can help Amina confront her past.


Venue: Empire Leicester Square.


Date: Wednesday, 17th October 2012


Time: 8:00pm


Tickets: £20 (Standard), £35 (VIP + After-party), £20 (After-party only)

Get your tickets here now. NO BOOKING FEES