Saboteur Awards 2017: Spotlight on the Best Poetry Pamphlet Shortlist

This month we are putting the focus on each category in the Saboteur Awards so voters can get a taster of the works they are not familiar with. Below we’ve included an extract from each of the shortlisted pamphlets to tempt you… Remember to vote before 30th April!

Copeland’s Daughter by Stephanie Conn (Smith|Doorstop) ‏

“I was thrilled to learn ‘Copeland’s Daughter’ had made the shortlist. These poems were inspired by the lives my ancestors lived on the tiny Copeland Island, off Northern Ireland, so they are very close to my heart. Thanks to everyone who nominated the pamphlet.” – Stephanie Conn

From Copeland’s Daughter

‘These tense poems narrate a search by a poet on a familial quest for lost intimate territory focused on a small landmass off the east coast of Ireland… there is nothing expected about the discoveries: the search offers genuine surprises, not least for the poet herself, as each poem unfolds: “The skull of a small bird,/stripped bare, reveals teeth at the end of the beak”. From Voyager 2 to a butter churn to fin whales, Stephanie Conn is a gifted and astonished guide to an extraordinary island life, at once naturally familiar and psychically and irresistibly appalling.’ – Damian Smyth

Read more about Stephanie here.

Why voters think it should win:

  • I love how Stephanie renders the secret and hidden moments of life. Moments expanded and made meaningful when we might otherwise overlook them.
  • This collection of poems was most evocative for me. I know the islands and the sense of place and characters described were very moving. An exceptional poetry booklet in my opinion.
  • Beautifully written emanating from the history of a little known on island off the Co Down coast.

Everything is Scripted by James Giddings (Templar) 

“It’s pretty awesome to have made the shortlist this year – the bribes obviously did their job. Unfortunately I’m out of cash as a result and I’ll sadly have to leave the book to win by its own merit. I’ve already started to practice my consolation face.” – James Giddings

From Everything is Scripted

Everything is Scripted is my first pamphlet and it won Templar Poetry’s book and pamphlet competition in 2016. Some of the poems were written as part of my MA Writing submission at Sheffield Hallam University. In 2015 I was awarded a Northern Writer’s Award. I am currently working on completing a full collection.

Find out more about James here.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Extraordinarily mature first pamphlet dealing in a new and fresh with an old but not over explored areas – male relationships with an absent/failing father.
  • Unusual collection – the voice seems to be hiding behind irony and off-kilter humour, but it’s actually deadly serious.
  • A book that’s both funny and has a strong emotional anchor.

Found Me by Emma van Woerkom (Read Fox Books)

“Absolutely surprised, thrilled and delighted that my poetry pamphlet FOUND ME : Blackout Poems, which was published to raise money for Hay-on-Wye Library has been shortlisted. When I heard I almost blacked out myself!” -Emma van Woerkom

From Found Me

Emma van Woerkom is a Poet, Poetry Film Maker, a fully trained Shared Reading Facilitator (trained by the Reader Organisation, UK), and winner of the 2015 Richard Booth Prize for Non Fiction. She is the author of the poetry pamphlet Beside the Seaside, funded by the Heritage Lottery (2014). Her second pamphlet ‘FOUND ME’ is a collection of ten experimental blackout poems, including accompanying images, ‘re-awakened’ from the Hay Festival programme 2016. Limited to an edition of 100 signed and numbered copies, sold in support of keeping Hay-on-Wye public library open and professionally staffed.

Find out more about Emma here.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Exciting and different – made me think about how we select and use words.
  • The poems themselves are fantastic, even if you don’t consider the method used to compose them. Considering they were composed using the black-out technique, they are nothing short of a miracle. That would be enough, but Emma also chose to support a very important cause by publishing the pamphlet, and that also counts on my book.
  • Brilliant concept – high difficulty – superb result. Also supports local library. Bravo!

Glass by Elisabeth Sennitt Clough (Paper Swans Press) 

“I wouldn’t have made the shortlist without the support of the readers who bought and voted for my pamphlet, so a huge thank you for your support! I’d also like to thank Paper Swans Press, who gave me the opportunity to get a book out into the world and to all at Saboteur Awards for recognising emerging writers and small presses.” – Elisabeth Sennitt Clough

From Glass

Glass as a title refers to the idea of something fragile, but when broken can cut badly. Dai Geoge describes Elisabeth as having ‘written the great pyschogeographic poetry of the Fenlands.’

Elisabeth Sennitt Clough was born in Ely, but spent two decades living and working abroad. Elisabeth’s pamphlet, Glass, was a winner of the Paper Swans inaugural pamphlet competition. It went on to be a Poetry Society Young Poets’ Network Summer 2016 ‘pick’ and sold its first print-run in two months. Elisabeth’s poems have been published in magazines such as The Rialto, Magma, Mslexia, The Cannon’s Mouth and Stand. She has won prizes in numerous poetry competitions and has been widely anthologised.

Find out more about Elisabeth here.

Why voters think it should win:

  • This is a tough, beautifully crafted pamphlet.
  • Strong, moving poems based around the Fenlands, reflecting on relationships and beautifully written. Sennitt Clough writes with true elegance.
  • Very accessible poems as well as striking imagery – a poignant collection with which most readers could identify. The best and most consistently rivetting poetry pamphlet I read this year.

Waves on a boring beach by Emma Hammond (Zimzalla)

“It’s nice when other people notice that you are making stuff. Poets tend to quietly get on with their work, and hope that others find it by a kind of magic. That usually works best but a helping hand is always appreciated and also a dark art in its own way. What I am trying to say is thank you. & thanks for reading! Poetry is tricky.” -Emma Hammond

From Waves on a Boring Beach

In 2016 I set out to write a poem a day at my local shopping mall in Walthamstow. It was very informal, the poems came easily. I love people best so my heart broke a bit after Brexit- perhaps this shows in the work. I am really proud of this pamphlet, it is honest I think. I float around these places all the time, as ghost and participant. There is a quietness to unemployment and occasional work- both have a very particular space around them. The everyday is absolutely the best place to find beauty though, and love.

Find out more about Emma here.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Her poetry is casual and throwaway but at the same time shockingly intimate. It’s normal but completely abnormal at the same time and the combination makes each closer to the other and cuts deep into whatever subject she writes about. The pictures she paints are colourful and muted and beautiful.
  • Waves on a boring beach is the only thing i’ve read that touched my heart, and my kidneys.
  • Because Emma Hammond’s vernacular is intoxicating and spunky, like no other.