Saboteur Awards: Best Collaborative Work

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

Amina Alyal & Oz Hardwick, Close as Second Skins 

We are, uncharacteristically for people who make a living out of words, speechless. The shortlist has some fantastic work on it, and we’re really honoured to be amongst such company.

Close as Second Skins cover

Close as Second Skins is just one element of a much wider collaboration. It grows out of working with the taiko drumming group, Kaminari UK, along with other musicians, notably Michael Graham, over a number of years. Throughout, there have been many performances, a CD (On an Eastern Breeze), and the visual aspect – from stage lighting to the book’s cover – has been carefully designed. Our writing has threaded through this constantly-evolving project, simultaneously responding to, and shaping, its direction. Close as Second Skins may contain our words, but it wouldn’t have been written without the energising collaboration with many talented artists.

What voters had to say:

because of the work’s gentle beauty

Two incomparable talents who somehow manage to fit together.

Seen them perform twice and it is a really surreal, relaxing moment out of everyday life.

Guardian of the Edge: Visual Artists Respond to the Poetry of Agnes Marton

It took me a year to put together this exhibition: 89 brand-new artworks by 33 accomplished visual artists (from everywhere, from Poland to Colombia, from Iceland to Georgia), all inspired by my poems; five guided tours in different languages; seven readings; sharing the images and the corresponding poems online. We had thousands of visitors (art helped them reconnect with poetry) and got heartwarming feedback from them. Glad they decided to vote as well.

Marton poster D3 flat

What happens when several international artists respond to the same poems in innovative ways (creating leporellos, metal origamis, installations referring to Wittgenstein’s language theory, etc.)? Can it be a new level of ekphrasis, with resonances in various directions? In my highly visual, dreamlike poems I make invisible processes (changes of emotions, doubts and fears, inner fights) recognizable, while recreating the language playfully. I talk about mysterious beings, snakes proud of their new skin, leopards lying in the middle of the canopy dreaming about thir new territories… pet iguanas wanting to escape… The word-sparing compositions are never predictable. See review

What voters had to say:

a fascinating collaboration that brought together many visual artists from many countries to respond to and add new dimension to the words of Agnes Marton, in an unusual venue, and offering guided tours for visitors to learn more about how the collaboration worked, this work offers so many aspects of collaboration and bringing artists and artforms together to make something new.

Great blend of the written word and the visual

Agnes Marton is so unique in her choice of artists who respond to her poetry!

Jacqueline Saphra, Benjamin Tassie & Mark Andrew Webber, If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women 

Jacqueline Saphra says: ‘It’s an honour, a privilege and a delightful surprise to appear on Sabotage Awards’ shortlist of exciting and innovative new work. The Naked Women are as thrilled as I am.’

Mark Andrew Webber says: ‘I’m very pleased that we’ve nominated for the Saboteur Awards. This was my first time collaborating with a poet and I had a lot of fun working with Jacqueline on this project.’


If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women is a sequence of prose poems about the eccentric activities of parents and step-parents, as seen from a child’s perspective. In the Emma Press publication, Jacqueline Saphra’s poems are illustrated by artist-printmaker Mark Andrew Webber, whose colourful linocut studies in the nude human form celebrate real bodies. Webber’s prints were exhibited at the Poetry Cafe in Oct-Nov 2014, and a musical setting for the poems was composed by Benjamin Tassie and performed by Tassie, Saphra and Alice Hyland (on cello) at the exhibition’s private view in November.

What voters had to say:

This fusion between poetry and art is innovative, startling, and utterly compelling.

Really sophisticated, nuanced marriage of unsettling poetry and gorgeous music

It is bl**dy good fun.

#losslit (curated by Kit Caless and Aki Schilz)

This year’s Saboteur Awards shortlists are particularly strong, and we are delighted to be listed alongside so many innovative writers and writing projects. LossLit started as a Twitter experiment; it’s a truly collaborative, organic creation, that has grown because of the efforts of everyone who has got involved with it. It’s been exciting to see it resonate with hundreds of Twitter users around the world who are joining in with our creative monthly writeclub. We’re delighted to be launching Issue One of LossLit’s online magazine this month, and hope to continue to expand the LossLit project both on and offline, with quarterly issues of the magazine, events, and a new online canon of LossLit Literature. Our shortlisting is really exciting and we’re honoured to be involved.


LossLit is a new digital literature project, curated by Kit Caless and Aki Schilz, which explore the various influences of loss in literature. Collating original fiction, poetry and essays into an online zine and building a canon of important existing LossLit titles, the LossLit project will produce a body of work that will look at Loss from all angles, alongside its online micro-project, the #LossLit hashtag on Twitter. The hashtag can be used any time to tag tweet-length creative responses to Loss, and a Twitter writeclub is hosted every first Wednesday of the month between 9 and 11pm GMT.

What voters had to say:

#losslit defines a small piece of space and time in an otherwise relentless deluge. It’s thoughtful and honest and naive and wonderful.

innovative use of an existing platform – part game part writing exercise – all fun!

#losslit brings incredibly diverse voices forward, meet new people, read incredibly moving (&funny!) stuff. the time limit gives an urgency, character limit brings ingenuity. most fun & accessible poetry collar I’ve experienced.

Melanie Rees & Sarah Miller, Selkie singing at the Passing Place 

“Selkie songs of thank yous to everyone who’s voted – so far.”


Sarah Miller is a poet, playwright and theatre deviser who has run workshops from South Cumbria to West Africa, collaborating with communities, visual artists, dance companies and sonic improvisers. Melanie Rees is a poet, playwright and special needs and behaviour teacher who has taught and lived in Europe, Asia, America and Australia. Sarah and Melanie met when they shared a big white house on an island, next to a passing place. They waded out, sang selkie songs to a seal they named Sir Douglas, shared stories, poems, wine and secrets, and decided to create something together.

What voters had to say:

A lovely collection paced beautifully with humour, pathos, anger, love and reflection all taking their place, with none of them overwhelming the collection

It’s the best collaboration for years. Either poet’s work would have stood alone as an excellent collection, but together they have a special energy that informs and empowers the reader. It’s like a trip to Arran with dear friends.

Touching, funny and wonderfully put together. The two poets compliment each other, with each bringing more put of each other.