Saboteur Awards: Best Poetry Pamphlet

This month, we will showcase each of the works shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards by category. Next up: poetry pamphlets! If you’d like to have your say in the awards, don’t forget to vote!

MINE by Holly Corfield Carr (Spike Island and City Edition Studio)

What a relief the Saboteur Awards are there and working so hard to pick up pamphlets as strange and as small as MINE. Each copy was designed and embossed by hand by City Edition Studio at Spike Island, a contemporary arts centre in Bristol and the whole project has been very tightly bound to the city it was written for. It is a joy and an honour to share MINE – and the secrets of the grotto – with a wider audience.

mineMINE is a site-specific poem for an eighteenth-century crystal grotto in Bristol. Beautifully produced in a striking three-colour risograph print, MINE is a trove of sparkling lyricism and bloody storytelling. Described by Sabotage Reviews’ Harry Giles as having ‘as much depth of texture and richness of theme as a fabled “full collection”’, MINE was developed with the support of the Jerwood/Arvon Mentoring Scheme and Clare Pollard, who says ‘It’s hard to think of any other contemporary poet who would attempt anything so eccentric and rich and strange and Poetic with a P. At times it almost feels like TS Eliot.’

What voters had to say:

The pamphlet gave me a chance to reflect on the performance ‘MINE’. The poem was intelligently written, with multiple layers and meanings, references to history and ideas, some of which had gone unnoticed or unappreciated in the performance. The pamphlet was also beautifully designed and well-constructed, an object and poem to savour and re-visit.

It is gorgeous! Very tactile.

Holly Corfield Carr’s work defies all categorisation: MINE is just the latest in a long line of site specific poetry that transcends the boundaries of poetry with wit, humour, power and grace

The Devil’s Tattoo by Brett Evans (Indigo Dreams)

I’m more than a little surprised to find my pamphlet shortlisted – raising a glass to all who voted.


Brett Evans lives, writes and drinks in his native north Wales. The Devil’s tattoo is his debut poetry pamphlet and is a loose narrative that deals with childhood, adulthood, lust, desire and alcoholism.

What voters had to say:

Hard hitting and in your face poetry delivered with artistry.

Mr. Evans’ taste in literature, film and music are evident and well-expressed in his poetry. His fun-loving lifestyle, sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant, emerges through clear imagery and colorful language.

The Devil’s Tattoo is a deeply divine read; it is what the reviewers say and more…it allows you into the world of a romantic, vulnerable, astute, poetic, jazz loving, Welsh ‘drinker’ in all its painfully, beautiful messiness. I’ve re-read several times. And the glossy, sensuous, cover art design and layout by publisher, Indigo Dreams, is simply stunning. Good luck, The Devil’s Tattoo!

Chelsea Flower Show Massacre by Mark Fiddes (Templar Poetry)

“Sabotage Reviews does not indulge in the kind of academic Jazzercise you find in some of UK poetry’s higher echelons. So it’s fantastic news just to be nominated by Sabotage readers in the Best Pamphlet category.”

From an outpouring of grief at the news of George Clooney’s wedding to the takeover of the Flower Show by luxury brands, Fiddes brings a wry humanity to real life in Britain. Funny, reflective and empathetic, his poetry celebrates what it is to be alive, puzzled and stuck on the Northern Line. This is his first collection of poetry, published by Templar as the winner of their Annual Pamphlet Award.

Mark Fiddes was born in Northamptonshire. After spells in Oxford and Washington, D.C. he now lives in South London and works in Wardour Street, Soho. He has been a speechwriter, creative director and columnist. His poems have been awarded internationally, from the Gregory O’Donoghue, Philip Larkin and Charles Causley prizes to the Wasafiri, John Clare, Frogmore Papers and Live Canon competitions. He has been anthologised by Templar, Aesthetica Magazine, Lightship, Southword, Fish Publishing and the University of London. Last year he published a bestselling children’s adventure novel The Curse of the Golden Hinde.

What voters had to say:

It made me feel jealous!

Outstanding, utterly delightful and very clever piece of work

Bright and bursting – like an opal fruit.

Social commentary, literary allusion and a joy to read

Kissing Angles by Sarah Fletcher (Dead Ink Books)

“I’m absolutely thrilled to make the Saboteur Shortlist. Sabotage Reviews does an amazing job of bringing much-deserved small presses and less-publicised works into the public eye. The shortlists have always shown a wide-range of amazing writing from the contemporary poetic landscape and it’s a bit of a ‘star-struck’ moment to even be on it. What Sabotage does for contemporary poetry isn’t only ‘helpful’, it’s a blessing”

Sarah Fletcher is a young American-British poet studying in Durham. In 2012, she was a Foyle Young Poet, and in 2012 and 2013, won the Christopher Tower Poetry Prize. She has since been published in The Rialto, The Morning Star, and The London Magazine. Her debut pamphlet ‘Kissing Angles’, ‘a sexy, witty, bold collection’ (Gillian Clarke), is an exploration of relationships, power dynamics, and loss; different perspectives on the meat and gristle of love, the lines between romance and abuse.

What voters had to say:

Because she has an original voice and authentic style. She is consistently accurate with her language.

Sarah Fletcher’s ‘Kissing Angles’ is full of passion and emotion. It isn’t a book of hollow words. All of this comes directly from Sarah’s heard and is a magnificent outpouring of talent and thought into words which can speak to everyone. Sarah’s poetry, because it touches on such personal matters, is relevant to everyone in today’s society. It speaks to us all, so we should all stand up (or sit down!), listen and enjoy!

An outstanding debut pamphlet, with echoes of Hughes and Duffy (in their pre-Laureate incarnations). Bold and visceral and challenging.

White Whale by Victoria Kennefick (Southword Editions)

I am so excited and honoured that White Whale is on the shortlist for Best Poetry Pamphlet for the 2015 Saboteur Awards. I am also delighted that it is in such wonderful company on the shortlist, which includes a number of pamphlets I have read and enjoyed, and others I am very much looking forward to reading. Awards like these, open to all and voted for by the reading public, are a real boost to writer and reader alike. They serve to bring the wider literary community together, in a tangible way, to celebrate new literature in all its forms. The dynamic, interactive and contemporary nature of the Saboteur Awards acknowledges work that otherwise may be overlooked, giving readers an opportunity to support and champion writing they love. It was empowering to vote for reviewers, magazines and events I admire, so it’s very encouraging that others voted for my work too. Thank you to all those who nominated White Whale.


Victoria Kennefick‘s poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry (Chicago), The Stinging Fly, New Irish Writing, Bare Fiction, and elsewhere. She won the Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize 2013 and was shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize 2014. Her pamphlet, White Whale, won the Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition 2014. Sabotage reviewer David Clarke describes the pamphlet as, ‘vulnerable and defiant,’ while Thomas McCarthy says, ‘Her poetry has that atmosphere, young as it should be, 1920s, Jazz-age, where the self is arbitrarily negotiated in public atmospheres; where one’s silence as well as one’s integrity is constantly under threat…This is superb writing.’

What voters had to say:

This is a fierce, unapologetic yet tender début from an exciting Irish poet.

Victoria Kennefick’s poetry speaks so much truth. As I fellow Irish country girl and having been lucky enough to have heard her recite some of her poems, I feel everyone can relate to pieces such as “White Whale” and “Swing”. For me, they bring back the most beautiful memories of my childhood. Magnificent.

Beautifully produced pamphlet, a cohesive collection of poems, thematically strong and linguistically inventive.