Saboteur Awards 2017: Spotlight on the Best Wildcard Shortlist

We are nearing the end of the spotlights, one more to go after this! This Wildcard category was too wild to be corralled earlier, but I hope you agree that it’s quite an extraordinary shortlist! This category was first launched last year to celebrate works that didn’t neatly fit into the other categories. The Best Wildcard Award is supported by Literature Wales, as part of International Dylan Thomas Day. Don’t forget to vote before the end of April here.

I am not a silent poet

I’m absolutely delighted that the work of ‘I am not a silent poet’ has been recognised by so many as to reach the shortlist of the Saboteur Awards. The magazine and the Facebook page work hard publishing poetry against abuse of all kinds and making it available internationally. -Reuben Woolley

Reuben Woolley, editor of I am not a silent poet

‘I am not a silent poet’ welcomes quality poems of protest. I have been seeing such increasing evidence of abuse recently that I felt it was time to do something. I am not a silent poet looks for poems (and other creative work) about abuse or protesting against abuse in any of its forms, colour, gender, disability, the dismantlement of the care services, the privatisation of the NHS, the rape culture are just the examples that come to mind at the moment. I just felt it was time for me to get off my arse and try to do something.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Excellent forum of meaningful and engaged poetry.
  • If I have to pick, I am picking the political one – given the last couple of years, it’s damned well needed is I Am Not a Silent Poet…
  • Started by one man it now attracts high quality poetry on current issues of many kinds of abuse. It needs to be more wildly known.

J.R. Carpenter’s “The Gathering Cloud”

I couldn’t be happier or more surprised to find my odd-ball web-based digital poetry collage zine thing in here with all these awesome print books, magazines, pamphlets, and live performance events. My most humble thanks to the editors for inviting The Gathering Cloud into this heady mix. -J.R. Carpenter

The Gathering Cloud was commissioned by NEoN Digital Arts Festival, Dundee, UK, 9-13 November 2016. The Gathering Cloud is a hybrid print and web-based work which aims to address the environmental impact of so-called ‘cloud’ computing by calling attention to the materiality of the clouds in the sky. Both are commonly perceived to be infinite resources, at once vast and immaterial; both, decidedly, are not. Fragments of text from Luke Howard’s classic Essay on the Modifications of Clouds (1803) and other more recent online articles and books on media and the environment are pared down into hyptertextual hendecasyllabic verses. These are situated within surreal animated gif collages composed of images materially appropriated from publicly accessible cloud storage services. The cognitive dissonance between the cultural fantasy of cloud storage and the hard facts of its environmental impact is bridged, in part, through the constant evocation of animals: A cumulus cloud weighs one hundred elephants. A USB fish swims through a cloud of cables. Four million cute cat pics are shared each day. A small print iteration of The Gathering Cloud shared through gift, trade, mail art, and small press economies further confuses boundaries between physical and digital, scarcity and waste. This print iteration was re-printed as a two-page spread in Hack Circus #12 in February 2017. A larger print book based on this work – with a foreword by Jussi Parikka and an afterword by Lisa Robertson – is forthcoming from Uniformbooks in May 2017. Portions of the text were first performed during the South West Poetry Tour, 1-8 August 2016. The Gathering Cloud has been presented as a live performance in Dundee, Bournemouth, Bristol, and Plymouth, with further performances scheduled for Porto and Incheon, South Korea, later this year.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Great to see digital art/writing in the mix here. Love this work. Simple and elegant, delivering an important message on climate change. Looking forward to the book based on this work coming out soon.
  • Great to see digital writing here! Love the low-fi animation mixed with the hendecasyllabic verses.
  • For pushing the boundaries of what poetry can do, into the realms of digital art and performance, whilst making an important creative critique on the impact of the internet on the climate.

Lunar Poetry Podcast

Lunar Poetry Podcasts is an audio series of interviews, discussions and live recordings with poets and writers in the UK and abroad. The LPP series was established in October 2014 as an audio accompaniment to Lunar Poetry Magazine. The podcast has run as an independent project since the summer of 2015 while keeping the Lunar name.

In July 2016, David Turner was awarded an Arts Council England, Grant For The Arts in order to further develop the series. This has seen the series move over to Soundcloud and iTunes making it more accessible and easier to download, with the grant also ensuring that all content remains free to download until, at least, September 2017.

David’s main aim for the LPP series was to provide a platform for writers often ignored by established publishing outlets. The grant money has also allowed LPP to take a large step toward offering representation for writers rather than merely diversity in its guest-list. The money is now being used to pay other writers to programme individual episodes (once a month) covering topics that affect them personally. This has so far included discussions about artist’s finances, accessibility in the arts and creative writing as a therapeutic tool. It has always been fundamental to the project that those often marginalised are given the opportunity to talk while having control over the direction of the conversation.

The grant money now also provides the opportunity for LPP to travel around the UK and speak with writers about local poetry scenes. The series also includes interviews recorded in Cuba, Nigeria, Norway, Sweden and Turkey.

A big thank you to guest hosts; Lizzy Palmer, The Repeat Beat Poet, Michelle Madsen, Jacob Sam-La Rose, Paula Varjack, Harry Giles, Emily Harrison and Melissa Lee-Houghton. Without the help of these people the series would just be David yakking endlessly.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Extensive archive of podcasts, brilliant interviews, wealth of information for poets by transcript for those who can’t access audio, and audio, all professionally presented and the best podcast series around – also one of the most valuable contributions to poetry in general in recent years, and they deserve this for all these reasons and more. They promote the work and careers of so many poets and from all scenes and backgrounds, and have no bias towards any style, publisher – gender aware and a force of positivity in the poetry world.
  • Not enough excellent live poetry journalism around, and they do it right.
  • So impressed by the quality of this podcast. I’ve become a regular listener. A wonderful way to meet poets.

Poetry as F*ck

It is hard to maintain our aloof and distant personas in the wake of such good news, but somehow we will manage. -Andrew Blair

Poetry as F*ck is a podcast that puts out different shows every fortnight, mixing poetry with comedy and ambient music.

It provides a platform for new work with ‘Lies, Dreaming’ (a theme-driven online open mic), discusses poets and their influences on ‘Eight Poems…’ (like Desert Island Discs but with poems and existential terror), and takes the piss with ‘Poets Against Humanity’ (a Creative Commons remix of Cards Against Humanity).

Occasionally the producers will put out their own work, such as the recent ‘Big Love Remixes’, where they took a poem by Loud Poets and produced new versions using cut-up techniques.

Why voters think it should win:

  • Why the F*ck not?
  • The Poetry as F*ck platform is doing a lot of different stuff in Scottish spoken word. It supports artists, and encourages them to stretch themselves (e.g. with nights like poets against humanity and challenging podcast themes like with Lies, Dreaming) as well as building community (e.g. ensuring diverse lineups for PAH, speaking to artists about their influences in the ‘8 poems…’ podcast). They’re interested in supporting the scene develop and grow, and are always up for trying out new ideas.
  • Andrew and Ross work incredibly hard on Poetry as Fuck, and do so many great projects under that umbrella – Poets Against Humanity, their twist on Desert Island Discs podcast, their Lies, Dreaming podcast – all of which serve (in whimsical and thought-provoking fashion) to inspire and support the Edinburgh spoken word scene. They’re two lovely guys who have done so much to keep this scene energised without ever asking for recognition – I’d love to see them win some!

Women Aloud NI

We’re so excited about making the #Saboteur17 shortlist. We love the fact that these awards recognise publications, writers, performers, events and important creative work that often get overlooked. Congratulations to all the longlisters and shortlisters! -Jane Talbot

Women Aloud NI is a volunteer-run organisation working to raise the profile of the women’s writing scene in Northern Ireland. Women Aloud NI 2017 was a series of literary events that took place between 7 and 11 March 2017. 150+ women writers took part in 20 events over the course of 3 days: literary flashmobs, readings and workshops took place in libraries, town halls, bookshops and even a moving train! Events were held in each of Northern Ireland’s 6 counties and in Dublin, ROI. Video of our Belfast flashmob

Why voters think they should win:

  • Superb inclusive and forward thinking group
  • This allows female writers in Northern Ireland to connect and share their creativity. It has highlighted the positive energy and creativity in Northern Ireland
  • Great collaboration, inspiring writers, showcasing work, building links across borders, challenging sexism breaking down barriers