Friday, March 30, 2012

Letter to Arinzechukwu

My dear son,

scan0012I just want you to know that as you turn 5 years old today, 30-March-2012, you have given more joy and happiness to me than I ever thought a human being could give another in such a short time.

You have shown great intelligence and have made mummy and your sister proud with the awards you have won at school, and I know that sometimes I push you a bit more than I should because you are so tall that I often forget just how young you are. This is not a promise to stop pushing you to know and achieve more, just that I promise to remember that you are only 5.

Today will be nothing but fun. When I get you from school today, we must come home to some combat. I am not sure these guys should fight each other but I will be 4 Arms and you may be Rath if you like, but I will not let you win just because it is your birthday.

May God keep you and protect you, son, and endow you with great wisdom and a heart that loves, as you begin the journey towards your 6th birthday.

Happy Birthday ‘Rinzy Boy


Your Papa

Friday, March 23, 2012

Saddened by the passing of Geoff Stevens

Geoff Stevens

This is one of those very very very sad days that I wish unfolded differently.

Geoff Stevens and I collaborated in several ways over the last 8 years. A fine award-winning and widely published poet, as publisher and editor of Sentinel Poetry Quarterly, I had the honour of publishing his work. I felt honoured that this respected editor of Purple Patch magazine deemed me worthy to judge his own work.

In the following years we worked in different ways. I liked him as a good judge of poetry and in 2009 I appointed him judge of the Diversity House Poetry Competition, the first ever competition run by Excel for Charity – the international writing competitions series that raises funds for charities through writing competitions. Geoff did a brilliant job of it, and his selection of the best work from that competition resulted in Blue Hyacinths – the first anthology of poems published by Eastern Light Publishers in 2010 which we co-edited.

Blue Hyacinths

Blue Hyacinths
Edited by
Geoff Stevens
and Nnorom Azuonye 

He further judged other competitions that I asked him to, including the Sentinel Literary Quarterly poetry competition, until his last judging gig, the Swale Life International Poetry Competition (November 2011). I did not hear from him much after that, and I had no idea he had cancer. He never mentioned it.

Today, the 23rd of March 2012 I came to a decision to ask him one more time to judge a competition for me but his phone was dead. I tried a few more times, and the phone was still dead. I sent him an email, but decided to follow it up with a phone call, so I went to the Purple Patch website and learnt to my horror that Geoff died on the 2nd of February, at the age of 69.

Sentinel Champions #6
Content Selected by
Geoff Stevens
and Ivor Hartmann

I have been numb since. How come I did not learn of his death? And to think his funeral had already been held on the 17th of February! Damn. Here today, gone tomorrow.

I am grateful to God for the privilege of having known Geoff and the pleasure of working with him, May God grant his family the strength to bear this great loss.

- Nnorom Azuonye

There will be a celebration of Geoff’s life on the 26th of May. Here are the details:

Celebrating Geoff Stevens


The Barlow Theatre, Langley, West Midlands

Saturday May 26, 2012 - 9.30am to 10.00pm


Everyone is welcome to come and spend a day reading poems, chatting, eating and drinking to celebrate Geoff’s life and work and to enjoy each other’s company as Geoff would have wanted.


There will be two open mic sessions, morning and evening, for people to read their own work and the afternoon will be a chance for whoever wants to, to read a favourite poem of Geoff’s. Or you may just want to come and listen. Programme details below.


There will also be a meeting between 5.00 and 6.00 for anyone who would like to discuss how Geoff’s work and reputation could be preserved and developed in future projects. (If you can’t come on May 26, please email your ideas to Geraldine at the address below and she’ll bring them up for discussion.)


There is no charge for the day thanks to the generosity of the Barlow Theatre but there will be a collection for St. Mary’s Hospice where Geoff spent his last few days and for Acorns Children’s Hospices.


Within a few steps there are plenty of places to get food. The Teapot Cafe opens at 7.00 am and closes at 12.00 am and is a great place to get your bacon butties or whatever and bring them across to the Barlow to have with your coffee. There are two pubs within a very short walk, The Model and Crosswell’s Inn, and a short drive away the Wetherspoons Court of Requests where we had the Wake for Geoff. There’s also fish and chips, Chinese and Indian take-aways and Asian food restaurants within yards of the theatre.


Parking is very close to the theatre and the bar, where we’ll meet, has easy access for wheel- chairs.


There will be tables in the foyer for those who want to sell books.


Come and enjoy!


Please confirm that you are coming by emailing Geraldine:


Programme for the Day

9.30-10.00 Arrivals - coffee available

10.00-10.05 Welcome by Geraldine

10.05-12.30 Open mic readings (5-10 minute slots)

12.30-12.45 So It Goes - music Lunch

2.00-4.45 Geoff's poems and anecdotes Break

5.00-6.00 Meeting re promoting Geoff's work and reputation in the future.

7.00-10.00 Open mic sessions Bar open all day!

Any queries, please email Geraldine:-


To find out about the theatre:

Farewell Geoff. You will be missed.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Igbo Language London Conference

Click for larger image

Igbo Language London Conference
Theme: Igbo Language & the Diaspora: Prospects & Challenges
Date: 24th March 2012
Venue:  School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London
Thornhaugh Street, WC1H 0XG

Keynote Speaker: Professor MJC Echeruo

Ndi kporo oku a bu Ogbako Umu Igbo Katolik

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

WritersReign 5th Annual Short Story Competition Opens

'One Moment In Time' is the theme of the fifth Annual Short Story
Competition hosted by
Just weave your story around a moment, an incident, a revelation, in your character's life that dramatically changes things. Whether for good or ill, it doesn't matter, but remember, as with all our competitions, your story should leave the reader with that feel-good factor in the end.
The closing date is 30th June 2012, and prizes on offer are: 1st - £100.00; 2nd - £50.00; 3rd - £25.00 plus 3 Highly Commended prizes of £10.00 each.
All winning entries will also be published on the WritersReign web site.
Entry fee: £3.50 for 1 story, £6.00 for two. Payment by PayPal link on site or by UK sterling cheque or P.O.
Stories should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words. No gratuitous sex or violence, please.
Entry forms can be downloaded from the web site or received via email.
Alternatively send an SAE to WritersReign Competition, 1 Delta Road,
Brentwood Essex CM13 1NG.
Web site:

4 things to consider when looking for a job

what do you want from work

Years ago, I read about these four questions I must ask myself before taking any job or activity. Now that I race towards junction 45, I find myself reflecting on them more everyday and beginning to think that I must apply them to every single thing I do. Everything.

Here are the questions?

#1: Will I make a lot of money from it?
#2: Will it make me famous?
#3: Will I learn something from doing it?
#4: Will I have a lot of fun?

If a job/activity will not make me rich, will not give me a name, will not teach me something that will make me a better man, better equipped to face life, and is not something I will derive a great deal of joy doing, then it is not worth a thought.

4 out of 4 is perfect, but tough to find surely.
3 out of 4 is ideal, and though tough, can be done.
2 out of 4 is acceptable but will leave me longing for more.
1 out of 4 will challenge my values. This is because I am thinking that if it came down to it that I must choose only one out of the 4, it is likely that though every fibre in me says take #1, I am very likely going to choose #3 because of all the four scenarios, this is the one that is most likely to help me build character – and character is that charm everyone needs to make meaning out of fun, fame and fortune.

Nnorom Azuonye

Monday, March 12, 2012


Winners and commended poems and short stories from the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2011 judged by Roger Elkin, Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (July 2011) judged by Bob Beagrie and Sentinel Literary Quarterly Short Story Competition (July 2011) judged by Kachi A. Ozumba.


320 - Copy[4]


Short Stories

LEO MADIGAN - The Maitre d'

JULIA BOHANNA - Children of the Rubble


JOHN PALGREN - Once Upon a Time

BARBARA MAINES BERG - And I Smiled for My Daddy

ANYA CATES - The Pancake Maker's Apprentice



TERRY JONES - The Causation of the Virgin Mother in a Tipperary Barn

LINDA BURNETT - Honesty in Winter

JEN CAMPBELL - The Chicken, The Egg and My Sister

HARRY BATTY - Goose Green

LYNN ROBERTS - Turner: Rain, Steam, and Speed

PAUL GROVES - From on High




                              - Aestivation


                 - From the Shore

ANDREAS MARIA AXEL - Black Cat (Tvi-Tvi-Tvi)

ADURA OJO - Four Corners

JV BIRCH - The Cut


                         - Free Embroidery


JAMIL DHANJI - Full Circle

ELIZABETH HUGHES - Nap Time with My Daughter

MANDY PANNETT - Ambience: A Variation

IRENA POSTLOVA - In-betweeners



Judges' Reports


On the SLQ Poetry Competition by Bob Beagrie

On the SLQ Short Story Competition by Kachi A. Ozumba

On the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition by Roger Elkin


Edited by Nnorom Azuonye


Price: £4.95 (UK), £5.95 (Overseas) Inc P&P

Contributors to this magazine get 1 contributor's copy each but may wish to purchase additional copies @ £3.95 (UK), or £4.95 (Overseas) Inc P&P


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Friday, March 02, 2012

Torch Bearer

(For Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu)





The Torch Bearer returns from a one-way trip

wrapped in colours of Africa’s elephant.

He sits garlanded at our forbears’ high table.

even as he becomes one with earth – with pomp.


For three Igbo weeks, canons clear their throats

like the roars of ten thousand angry god-lions

prancing around our forests of bleeding hearts

smoke against soaked shawls of a blue-black sky.


Across the land, from the South to the North

and from the East to the west, there are tears.

There is also laughter, gratitude and jubilation.

In the end, the just always harvest vindication.




The hour comes, howling at us in the dock,

before a jury of our loins’ sternest seeds.

A million gavels dance in our nation’s air

and we dread the indictment we face.


Where are the chalices of hope and freedom

the Torch Bearer smashed steel-clad doors for?

Shall we fearlessly drink from them for life,

or have we already died - trying to live?


The Torch Bearer has illuminated our path;

many dreamfruiters died that we may stand,

beat our hairy chests and say our name,

if - we dare – to face our children without shame.


Nnorom Azuonye

London 28 February, 2012