Spotlight on the Best Wildcard Shortlist

The Best Wildcard category is new this year, and it’s been thrilling to see what made the shortlist, from intimate performances to life-altering workshops, there really is something for everyone here. Check them out and, when you’re ready, don’t forget to vote!

Alchemy by Abi Palmer

Oh god, I am so excited! Sabotage Reviews have been such a positive influence on my work, so making the shortlist feels incredible. Alchemy is a series of unpredictable confrontations: performing it can be pretty ‘wild’. It’s great that a literary award has made space for projects like this.

Tall Tales Lab(yrinth)-42
Photo by Matthew Widgery

Alchemy is a 1:1 poetry experiment, exploring the relationship between language and physical interaction. How does the smell of smoke change the way you hear a poem about drowning, or an incantation about breath? Would the same combination of elements produce the same effect for different listeners, or do responses vary? Based upon Robert Boyle’s challenge to classical Alchemy in 1661, the project invites listeners to play the early modern scientist, examining the conflict between literary and scientific reason.

Alchemy can be performed either as a live installation, or in boxset form to play at home.

Why voters think it should win:

Totally changed my view of words. Loved how different tactile experiences changed the interpretation. Box set was my best Christmas present ever!

‘Alchemy’ is a brave, intense, innovative, and immersive experience that grabs its audience with both hands and delves deep into their unsuspecting psyche, taking poetry back off the page and into their ears, eyes, and minds. It should be rewarded for not only trying something unnerving and bold, but for pulling it off.

Fabulous concept, fabulous performance. Innovative and sad/happy at the same time. So much detail and so much love. Little short of stunning

COP21 performance Sophia Walker

awesome, that’s definitely an excuse for eating pizza. where is pizza

I was asked to write a 10 minute piece on climate change and deliver it at the Cop21 conference in Paris. After days of being hit by facts and figures, my task was to make people feel the realities, to move them. It was a massive honour in the weeks leading up. The night before and day of it was just super, super scary. Mostly I just tried to not feel sick and not fall of the stage. So to be nominated for a Saboteur Award for it feels pretty massive. Thank you! Who knew politicians liked 10 minute poems? Though I suppose compared to their speeches 10 minutes is haiku levels of brief.

Why voters think this should win:

She is highly original and unusual in what she says. Brilliant performer commanding the audiences’ attention. Her work makes you think

I don’t know any other performance poet who uses the form as a political medium with such appealing power. No-one’s listening to politicians. Maybe they’ll listen to poets.

Because COP21 is something that matters to everyone everywhere, and Sophia brought a fresh perspective to the Paris conference.

Deerhart (Art and poetry exhibition by Yvonne Reddick and Diana Zwibach)

It means so much to me and to Diana to make the shortlist. We’re thrilled that there has been this response to our fusion of art and poetry! It’s wonderful that Sabotage has made this possible with the special Wildcard category, which is unique for rewarding genre-defying work like this.


Deerhart is an exciting journey into nature and our own animal nature. A fusion of poetry and art, this new exhibition is the brainchild of poet Yvonne Reddick and artist Diana Zwibach.Come and meet a dinosaur called Eva, enter a suburban house full of cave paintings, see Roman soldiers appear in a Yorkshire pub and watch a grandmother take wing as a pink-footed goose! Deerhart has toured to the New Hall Art Collection, Cambridge and PR1 Gallery Preston, and will be travelling in the future – watch this space!

Why voters think it should win:

Yvonne and Diana are dedicated hard working artists who have collaborated to present this wonderful exhibition. I would love to see them win this category. They really deserve it.

Because there is a natural resonance between language, image and the planet–I can feel the poems in my teeth!

Because in an age of climate change and other environmental catastrophe, it’s vital to engage creatively with the environment and landscape, as the artists do here!

Marcas Mac an Tuairneir

Tha mi air mo dhòigh a bhith air geàrr-liosta na duais, am bliadhna, is mi a’ chiad sgrìobhadair Gàidhlig a thug am moladh cliùiteach seo. Mar sgrìobhadair mìon-cànain, bidh mi a’ strì an aghaidh sisteam cruinneachais na Beurla, daonnan, is mar sin, ’s e urram ar coimhearsnachd air iomall a tuath a riochdachadh, gus aire a tharraing don litreachas is cultar againn.

I am overjoyed to be shortlisted, this year, and the first Gaelic writer to welcome this noted commendation. As a writer in a minority language, I repeatedly find myself faced with the onslaught of globalisation, exemplified by the English language, and to that end it is a real honour to be able to foreground our community on the northern frontier, its literature and its culture.


Marcas Mac an Tuairneir writes within concentric circles. Committed to innovation, within the confines of a minority language and its literature, as one of Gaeldom’s most dynamic young writers, his work is critically acclaimed and widely lauded. As the only out LGBT currently publishing in the language in Scotland, Marcas work represents a unique voice within the canon, foregrounding the shared experience of a minority within a minority, whilst doing so with a universality that has secured audiences from all quarters and within all communities. Originally from York, a learner of the language and resident in Scotland all his adult life, Marcas writes poetry, prose, drama and journalism, in both Gaelic and English.

Why voters think he should win?

Marcas writes in one of the UK’s minority languages: Scottish Gaelic and translates his poetry into English himself. He is also an LGBT activist, and is one of the very few gay people writing in Gaelic.

Delighted to see this fine Gaelic writer getting some recognition. He is a great ambassador for the language, showing its relevance and power today, in communicative colourful person and online, proving it’s not just as a heritage asset as is too often assumed.

Something different : a Gaelic-speaking Yorkshireman! He deserves some recognition for all his hard work. Very talented

Seymour Poets at BlueSCI

We are dead, dead nice! Seriously! We remember how 50 people take their tea, see, how nice is that? Vote for us please, it might mean we get more funding and can help more folk who don’t usually get to be heard.

John Hendrickson who suffers with severe autism, whose book 'Try To Be Nice' we just published with thanks to the Bluesci BME fund
John Hendrickson who suffers with severe autism, whose book ‘Try To Be Nice’ we just published with thanks to the Bluesci BME fund

We are two girls who run really supportive weekly creative writing workshops for people who have all sorts of problems who might find going to creative writing workshops hard. We mostly do it for free, and we properly care. We really make a massive difference in people’s lives. This year we are about to complete an anthology called ‘Tea, Poetry and Hope’ which contains poetry and stories about coping with autism, down’s syndrome, amputation, austerity, abuse and more. It breaks your heart and lifts your soul.

Why voters think this should win:

The group, the ethos, the volunteers, the creativity, honesty, heart warming reality, hardship meets friendship meets coming out the other end a better brighter more confident person with an outlet that lets the soul speak to a a wider audience as well as have a therapeutic aspect.

Allowing a broad range of expression is what poetry is all about. Seymour Poets hit the bullseye

Just wonderful! Quirky, inclusive, authentic. Drawing in all those who would otherwise find themselves totally alienated by the ‘scene’. As someone who works in mental health I know that people who feel shoved out elsewhere can engage with this. Remarkable.