Thursday, November 19, 2015

Charlie Sheen reveals he is HIV-positive

Damn! When I saw the news a couple of days ago, I gasped, 'so it is Charlie, sad.' 

For weeks there have been these press reports about a big Hollywood star living with HIV. Pressure was mounting for his identity to be revealed. Then Charlie did the courageous thing; he went on TV and told the whole world of his illness. 

The guy has balls the size of football. I know many people are trying to paint him as some kind of monster for keeping his HIV status secret for 4 years, but then who wouldn't? It is not an like an award to shout about.

People with HIV are still stigmatised. Incidentally, last week at Barnehurst Methodist Church I preached about the different kinds of prisons people can be in, and Charlie has been in this prison for over four years, afraid of the isolation he will experience as people will be very cautious about the way they make contact with him. He kept his condition secret because of the HIV-associated stigma and because he wanted his identity to remain Charlie Sheen and not 'that guy with HIV'

Charlie is a good and talented actor and has given many of us many years of excellent entertainment. He has also been in the news a lot for the wrong reasons; the drugs, the wild partying, the alcohol, the call girls. In a world less sensitive, some people will say he had it coming or that they are not surprised, but nobody deserves to get ill.

Many voices have called on Charlie to use his diagnosis to raise awareness about HIV, to let people know it can affect anyone, and that the way he handles his status post-public revelation can also help battle the stigma and ignorance associated with HIV and AIDS.

My prayers and support are with Charlie at this time.

t. @nnoromazuonye   f: nnorom.azuonye

Monday, October 19, 2015

Why worry when you can pray?

“So never worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” - Matthew 6:34

There is a song that comes to mind:

Why worry, when you can pray
Trust in Jesus and he will make a way.

If you have an impending surgery, examination, travel, interview, or childbirth for instance, the human thing is that you will be anxious. 

The truth however is that worrying will not make things better or guarantee your safety. The best way to take worry out of your life is to be prepared. 

If you have an examination coming up and you don’t study, pray all you want, Jesus will not make you pass that examination. In fact he will consider you a person wishing to reap what you did not sow. Study hard and he will not only open your mind to understand what you are studying but he will ensure that you not only get to your exam venue safely and on time, but that you actually remember when it counts, all that you have learnt. 

In every area of your life, put in the work you need to, do your own part and leave the rest to God. Sometimes it may seem that all the roads are blocked despite your hard work, that’s when the Lord takes over. Do your bit and believe completely that he will make a way for you where there seems to be no way. 

Only believe, put on your best clothes and move right ahead. Trust in Jesus and victory will be yours.

Have a blessed day.

Nnorom Azuonye 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition | International Poetry Contest

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (August 2015)

Closing date: 31st August, 2015

For original, previously unpublished poems in English language, on any subject, in any style, up to 50 lines long.

Prizes: First: £200.00, Second: £100.00, Third: £50.00, Highly Commended: £20 x 3, Commended: £10 x 3.

Click here to enter:

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition | International Poetry Contest

Monday, June 29, 2015

In Christ Alone by Stuart Townsend with Lyrics in HD

"In Christ Alone" was one of the hymns the members of the Junior Church chose for their anniversary service at the Abbey Wood Methodist Church on 28th June, 2015. This song always has a profound effect on me. I truly felt privileged to have been asked to lead that service. - Nnorom Azuonye 29.6.2015

Songwriters: Getty, Julian Keith; Townend, Stuart Richard;

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

In Christ alone, who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless Babe
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones He came to save

Til on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ

No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life's first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand

On Christ the solid rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground, all other ground
Is sinking sand

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Four days late, a really inspiring and reassuring message

I hope this ministers to you and it has me.
Be assured then that Jesus is calling out the name
of every Lazarus in your life
to come forth and live.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Competitions deadline extended

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The closing date for the April 2015 Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry and Short Story Competitions have been extended to 31st May 2015. This extension does not affect the date the results had been set to be announced being the 15th of July, 2015.

We will publish the winning and commended stories and poems in the online version of Sentinel Literary Quarterly on the 31 July, 2015. The works will also be available in the print version for those who prefer hard copies of the magazine.

From this quarter’s competitions, in addition to the prize money of £200, £75, £50, 3 x £20, and publication, we will also issue a certificate of achievement to all winners and commended authors.

Judges: Mark Totterdell and Brindley Hallam Dennis

Enter competitions here

Questions to

Administrator: Nnorom Azuonye

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Thursday, January 15, 2015



Mandy Pannett

I found it extra difficult this time to select nine poems – not because the chosen ones aren’t brilliant, they most certainly are – but because there were so many others that ‘came close’, that demanded to be noticed. I started making a list of them to be included in this report but in the end decided not to because there are many.

A number of poets used the technique of line end rhyme. This, I think, is incredibly hard to do well. So often the chosen rhyme is not the best one – it may sound alright and be pleasing to the ear but may not be the best word to convey meaning and emotion. Poems that worked best in this competition, where the poet was keen on using rhyme, was where enjambment reduced the doggerel effect or where the rhymes were ‘looser’ – as in several of the sonnets which I found very effective.

A number of themes recurred throughout the entries. Many concerned personal experiences, families, relationships, the pain of love and loss, assumptions, hope and disillusion. Memory was a strong theme, collective memory and connections with the past as well as the individual and present. Many strong poems described landscape and the natural world and there was an emphasis on Earth as unsustainable, under threat. Imagery conveyed strong feelings and profound thought in poems about war, sickness and malignancy.

This competition brought me a bagful of poems rich in variety and complexity. Here, after a lot of thought and indecision, is my selection.

1st prize: The Terminology of Bells by Mike Bannister

This poem caught my attention from the very first reading. It is a poem about memory and time with the bell terminology skilfully intermingled with descriptions of the setting and matching the mood of each passing moment. I love the sense of place it creates – the names of towns and rivers and the lyrical details of fish and water birds – but I have mainly chosen it as my winner because of the perfect and bell-like musicality of it all. Who could fail to appreciate the poem’s beginning? ‘Sally stroke: early morning, neither a dog bark/nor cuckoo call, only that distant, melancholy peal/a deep-rolling tonnage of bronze’. Or this later stanza? ‘Go: the heart hunting now, headstock and chamber/back behind the tears, for one born by Michaelmas,/who slept in a drawer; was told, and would believe/that the bees sang in the hive at Christmastide.’

2nd prize: The Catastrophe Tapes by Seán Street

An outstanding poem. Comes into my personal category of ‘I wish I’d written it!’ Intriguing and highly original it takes the idea of having a jumble of words and thoughts from a medieval battlefield somehow ‘recorded’ in an ‘old technology’ and left for us to decipher and interpret if we can. The Battle of Towton was one of the most ferocious of the Wars of the Roses, lasting ten hours in a snowstorm so that the white ground afterwards was stained for miles with blood. An idea close to my heart, this connection of the past with the present, the idea of atmosphere and vibrations being forever contained in objects and settings. This poem, however, goes beyond that. To me it reads as all wars, all atrocities. The horrors of Towton are echoed in the trenches, in the rubble of Syria. An incredibly profound poem which leaves us with desperate questions and pleas: ‘surely someone will listen?’, ‘Are you hearing any of this?’, ‘it may matter/ someday, they may need to know it’.

3rd prize: Finger-Wing by Yvonne Reddick

Quotation and commentary cannot do justice to this brilliant poem that uses language so skilfully and to the full. The poet, on a chilly day, is looking at clouds, blows on his fists to warm them and feels ‘the scrunched membranes/that mesh my fingers/and remembers how ‘pterodactyl/means finger-wing’. From this imagery of membranes and bones other associations come fast – the poet notices ‘the sludgy hulk of a decomposing pigeon’, remembers how his/her grandmother was ‘bird-bone hollow, all ribstrakes and wing-scaffold ... knuckly birdleg fingers.’ There are further incredible risks with language: the granny’s cremation is described lyrically as ‘plume-cinder ash...The south-easterly hush-hushed it north’, but then we have a line of harsh consonants ‘I interred the pigeon’s slimy reek in a skip’ followed by the quotation ‘le fruit de vos entrailles est béni’ – a direct reference to the Annunciation, a miraculous birth in contrast to this imagery of death and putrefaction.

Highly Commended: Quince Zone by Dominic James

This is another poem that stayed with me from the first reading. Maybe there are underlying themes – identity, awareness, selection, discrimination, even sacrifice – but I chose this poem for its humour, detail and the perfect ‘voice’ of it whereby the ragged quince on a tree in an apple orchard is personified with ‘warty limbs’ and begs the onlooker to pluck it from the tree so that more fruit may grow. The language is conversational and colloquial but with a lyrical Shakesperian touch – ‘a summer comes’ says the quince, ‘oh ,pluck my fruit,/at night the stars smile through me.’ An irresistible poem.

Highly Commended: We Are All Waters by Shittu Fowora

An enigmatic poem which requires many readings to fully appreciate its layers and depths. This suits me perfectly – I enjoy ‘working’ a poem, teasing out associations and subtleties of meaning. Water in a multitude of forms is used here as the central metaphor for the repeated idea ‘There is no ‘you’, or ‘I’, save ‘we’. Identities merge in the universal, waters ‘variously hued’ may be seen in rain, fresh water, dirty water, puddles, in pots for cooking, tears, clouds, droplets, cesspools, icebergs, ponds – and all these aspects collect ‘the geography of the places you’ve been to’, share love, fear, tranquillity, troubles, ‘percolate the crevices between rocks and questions.’

Highly Commended: Chilson Founder’s Day Harvest Festival by Michelle Bonczek Evory

The narrator in this poem has been ‘camping/in a strange land’ where, for days, there has been ‘a sopping mess’ of ‘rain and thunder, wind whipping leaves’, where even the chipmunks have been ‘washed out their burrows’. Now the sun is out and an assortment of people gather for the celebration. A delightful poem which I chose for several reasons: its effective use of enjambment, the clear and detailed imagery – I particularly love ‘a silver oven/waiting, for the body of a hog to be spun in its space/like a planet too close to a star’ – but most of all for the small, ordinary, incidental aspects of the day: the names of people and places, phrases of overheard conversation, the baked potato ‘still hot in its aluminium wrapper’, the red-haired brothers licking sour cream ‘from their white plastic forks’. Pleasure on this day may be transient but while it lasts it is real and good.

Commended: Mobius by Alison J Powell

I must confess to a touch of subjectivity here as a poem that ‘plays’ with language and uses techniques of circularity, reversal and repetition will always catch my interest. When it is crafted as beautifully and skilfully as ‘Mobius’ it is guaranteed to find its way on to my winners’ list. Here the poet uses the metaphor of a dance to create the ‘infinite loop’ of a courtship with its spiral of resistance, pursuit, delusion, hopes, tears and dreams culminating in ‘the joining of edges’ as the couple ‘cut loose and flew/Dancing.’ A clever and memorable poem.

Commended: Liturgies by Anthony Watts

I find this sonnet incredibly moving. An adult remembers himself as a child playing at being a priest. Here ‘a patterned hearthrug’ served as a church, the swing of the censer could be mimed, the altar was a shoebox with ‘pencils stuck in cotton-reels for candles.’ This was a vulnerable child searching for something beyond the tangible and inarticulate and this is a vulnerable adult too, still yearning, still on the quest for something more, for an ‘Everywhere’. An incredible poem that suggests so much in a few lines.

Commended: After by Julian Dobson

Many poems describe the horrors of war, the anguish of loss, the aftermath of brutality. This short poem is one of the most effective and poignant I’ve read. With carefully selected details and the technique of understatement the poet takes us into the debris of a market where starving people ‘scour’ for food where ‘lemons/rot in shattered boxes’ and flies ‘signal what might still/be edible.’ So far a fairly typical depiction of devastation. But there are more horrors in this scene, an almost casual mention of ‘legs’ which are ‘not of goats or sheep’ and then these lines which will stay with me for a long time: ‘To eat, you must not search too hard./The stomach will not digest/some discoveries.’

mandy pannett

Mandy Pannett. January 2015

All the Invisibles, the powerful poetry collection by Mandy Pannett is available at and

Sentinel Literary Quarterly Poetry Competition (February 2015) judged by Noel Williams is now accepting entries

First Prize: £200

Second Prize: £75

Third Prize: £50

Highly Commended: 3 X £20

Enter online or by post here