Saboteur Awards 2014 – Results!

For a more in-depth account of each awards, click here for poetry, here for fiction, and here for performances! You can also check out the storify here to get a feel for the night. In the meantime, here are the results:

Best Anthology

Winner: Weird Lies, ed. Cherry Potts and Katy Darby (Arachne Press)

Runner-Up: The Apple Anthology, ed. Yvonne Reddick and George Ttoouli (Nine Arches)

Anthology prize logo

Best Spoken Word Show

Winner: Sophia Walker, Around the World in 8 Mistakes

Runner Up: Kirsten Luckins, The Moon Cannot be Stolen

Spoken Word Show prize logo

Most Innovative Publisher

Winner: Nine Arches Press

Runner up: Penned in the Margins

Innovative Publisher prize logo

Best Reviewer

Winner: Fiona Moore

Runner up: Afric McGlinchey

Best Reviewer prize logo

Best Magazine

Winner: Poems in Which

Runner up: Under the Radar

Magazine prize logo

Best Poetry Pamphlet

Winner: W.N. Herbert, Murder Bear (Donut Press)

Runner up: Lisa Matthews, 14 (Literal Fish)

Best Poetry Pamphlet prize logo

Best Spoken Word Performer

Winner: Steve Nash

Runner Up: Kate Tempest

Best Spoken Word Performer prize logo

Best Regular Spoken Word Night

Winner: Liars’ League

Runner Up: JibbaJabba

Best Reg Spoken Word Night prize logo

Best Short Story Collection

Winner: Kirsty Logan, The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales (Salt)

Runner Up: May-Lan Tan, Things to Make and Break (CB Editions)

Short Story prize logo

Best One-Off

Winner: Against Rape, 4-10 November 2013

Runner Up: London Lines, 31st May-8 September 2013

One-off prize logo

Best Novella

Winner: Nikesh Shukla, Time Machine (Galley Beggar)

Runner Up: Hanna Krall, Chasing the King of Hearts (Peirene Press)

Novella prize logo

Best Collaborative Work 

Winner: Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone, Riotous (Sidekick Books)

Runner Up: Daniel Cockrill and Tony Husband, Sellotaping Rain to my Cheek (Burning Eye Books)

Best Collaborative prize logo


A couple of lovely accounts here:
From Best Anthology winners Arachne Press
-From Best Collaborative Work winners Sidekick Books
-From Gareth Prior
-From Write Out Loud
-From Matt Merritt

Saboteur Awards 2014: The Shortlist!

Vote now!

The results will be announced at the Awards on 31st May, book tickets now!


Over the course of a month, over 600 of you have nominated in twelve categories, proving that indie lit is alive and well… As usual, we have been impressed by the breadth of your choices – but it’s not up to us! The number of nominations have led to the shortlist being what it is (and we do think you have excellent taste!) while who wins is also in your hands! So do make the most of it and vote…

We hope that you will join us at the awards on 31st May. For the first time, we’re celebrating in Oxford (did we mention it’s our 4th birthday too?) and making a whole day of it! There’ll be free performances and a mini-book fair in the afternoon, followed by the awards in the evening. There might be a couple of book fair and performance slots free, check this page out for details.

Finally: if you are shortlisted, we will try and get in touch with you as soon as you can. If you know that you are hard to get hold of, maybe drop Claire a line at [email protected]

Saboteur Awards 2014 flyer

The Shortlist

(in no particular order):

Best Anthology

Follow the Trail of Moths: the Best of Wayne Holloway-Smith’s Literary Salons,ed. Wayne Holloway-Smith (Sidekick Books)

Weird Lies, ed. Cherry Potts and Katy Darby (Arachne Press)

Drifting down the Lane, ed. Harriette Lawler and Agnes Marton

Words & Women One, ed. Lynne Bryan and Belona Greenwood (Unthank Books)

The Apple Anthology, ed. Yvonne Reddick and George Ttoouli (Nine Arches Press)


Best Spoken Word Show

Sophia Walker, Around the World in 8 Mistakes

Rob Auton, The Sky Show

Kirsten Luckins, The Moon Cannot be Stolen

Other Voices: Spoken Word Cabaret (dir. Fay Roberts)

Electronic Voice Phenomena


Most Innovative Publisher

Burning Eye

Penned in the Margins

Nine Arches

Sidekick Books

Red Squirrel Press


Best Reviewer

David Coates

Charles Whalley

Afric McGlinchey

Fiona Moore

Rosie Breese


Best Magazine

Poems in Which

Under the Radar

Bare Fiction

Poetry Bus



Best Poetry Pamphlet

Kathleen Bell, At the Memory Exchange (Oystercatcher)

Harry Man, Lift (Tall-Lighthouse)

W.N. Herbert, Murder Bear (Donut Press)

Rebecca Tamás, The Ophelia Letters (Salt)

Lisa Matthews, 14 (Literal Fish)


Best Spoken Word Performer 

Sophia Walker

Kate Tempest

Lucy Ayrton

Steve Nash

Hollie McNish


Best Regular Spoken Word Night

Bang Said the Gun

White Rabbit’s Are You Sitting Comfortably?

Jabba Jabba

Liars League

Shindig (Leicester)


Best Short Story Collection

David Rose, Posthumous Stories (Salt)

Jonathan Taylor, Kontakte and Other Stories (Roman Books)

May-Lan Tan, Things to Make and Break (CB Editions)

Kirsty Logan, The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales (Salt)

Colin Barrett, Young Skins (Stinging Fly)

Best One-Off

The Anti-Slam, Valentine’s Day Special, 14 February 2014

Against Rape, 4-10 November 2013

London Lines, 31st May-8 September 2013

Poems after Frida, 6th July 2013

P.O.W. – Translating Concrete Poetry, 5th March 2014

Best Novella

Hanna Krall, Chasing the King of Hearts (Peirene Press)

Marianne Villanueva, Jenalyn (Vagabondage Press)

Nikesh Shukla, Time Machine (Galley Beggar)

Johnny Monroe, Season of the Needle

William Thirsk-Gaskill, Escape Kit (Grist Books)


Best Collaborative Work

Enemies: the Selected Collaborations of SJ Fowler (Penned in the Margins)

Chris McCabe and Maria Vlotides, Pharmapoetica: a dispensary of poetry (Pedestrian Publishing)

Electronic Voice Phenomena (Penned in the Margins)

Kirsten Irving, Cliff Hammett, and Jon Stone, Riotous (Sidekick Books)

Daniel Cockrill and Tony Husband, Sellotaping Rain to my Cheek (Burning Eye Books)


Vote now! Voting is open until 25th May.

Saboteur 2014 flyer printer-page-002

The Apple Anthology (ed. Yvonne Reddick and George Ttoouli)

-Reviewed by Seán Hewitt


The humble apple has a lot to answer for: the fall of Man, the subsequent subjection of Woman, the discovery of gravity… It has been subsumed into the everyday workings of our language: ‘the apple of my eye’, ‘apples and oranges’, ‘the Big Apple’. Nine Arches Press’s new anthology, edited by Yvonne Reddick and George Ttoouli, at once traces the ubiquity of the apple in world culture, and continues the process of its mythology.

By moving between original and translated poetry, essays, drama, interview and graphics, The Apple Anthology aims to ‘refresh our comfortably wizened notions about this most familiar of fruits’. It should be noted that, due to copyright reasons, the anthology consists solely of ‘first-fruits’, ‘biting into centuries-old textures and symbolisms’ in order to carry the apple’s profound literary history into 2013. However, the consistency lent to the book by a single theme is not always mirrored by a consistency in quality.

Among the poets, Joel Lane and Adam Crothers stand out from the rest, and the apple comes to mean something in their poems in a way that it doesn’t in many of the others. As a symbol, the apple seems to be prone to conjuring nostalgia, and it was where this was kept in check that the poetry really started to flourish. In ‘The Winter Archive’, Lane’s imagery takes the more obvious trope of peeling (less successful in some of the other poems) and turns it to a new advantage. In an orchard, ‘The black apples under the trees / had been peeled by frost’. The archival nature of the apple’s scent, which stores a ‘cold message / of decay’ pays heed to the potential of nostalgia whilst simultaneously refusing it.

Likewise, in Adam Crothers’s ‘Apfelschorle’ (an apple-flavoured German soft-drink), the focus is on subverting the familiar ‘Hay and apples, apples and hay’ associations. The intentional bathos, from ‘the suns of the golden apple-bubbles’ to the uncomfortable final line (‘Please, Hippomenes, off your knees. Your date-rape drug’s docked in your trachea’) completes the overall arc of this subversion. Crothers’s wordplay, and the semantic progressions and relapses it finds between words, seems effortless, and his poetry moves deftly between witty meaning and meaningless wit. It sets the bar high, and even some of the anthology’s better-known names don’t rise to the challenge.

The essays are well-spaced throughout, and give wonderful insights. The editors have certainly cast their net wide, and the range of their selection really does the anthology credit. From David Morley’s prologue to the book, which meditates on the rich names of apple varieties (a common theme throughout the book, and through ‘apple literature’ in general –Alice Oswald’s ‘The Apple Shed’, for example), through a history of the Bramley apple and on to Campell and Niblett’s ‘Towards a Critical Ecology of Cider’, the work in this anthology traces the apple from seed to cider, and from tree to pie, starting as early as Sappho, stopping in the 18th century and powering forward to the present day in the form of some startling poetry.

This is an eclectic mix, both in terms of subject and quality, and it’s certainly worth a read. However, at times, a fair few of the poems fall for the ease of the pastoral, and uncomplicate their vision in order to achieve a nostalgic, cottagey warmth which is altogether less satisfying. One example is a short poem by Janet Sutherland, entitled ‘Crumble’, which comes near the start of the anthology:

‘I’ve cut out all the rot
the scab, the canker,

the codling moths
are flown

spot, pox, and worm

my careful knife
has peeled decay

and autumn lies in shreds
about the table.’

The poem is only short, so I have quoted it in full. This is by no means a bad poem, and it works on its own terms. The fact that the speaker has ‘cut out all the rot’ is intrinsic, but the poem does not have the scope of emotion or reference that some other, more fulfilling poems in the book do. It is the fact that the middle three stanzas are essentially elaborations on the cutting out ‘all the rot’ in the first line which means that the poem becomes too grounded. The thought which lies behind it isn’t allowed to fly, and there is no jump towards something more meaningful. The poem exists quite satisfactorily within itself, but it fails to live as a thought in the mind of the reader; it is tethered to the ground by being too careful.

This is probably a question of taste, and it is a credit to the anthology’s editors that such a wide variety of different approaches are allowed a voice within these pages. As with most many-authored collections, there will be things each reader connects with, and things they don’t, but it is always good to read things that challenge, or make you defend, your idea of good or worthy literature. I prefer the tang of bitterness that comes when all the rot is not cut out; others prefer it sweet.