Saboteur Awards: Best Anthology

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

The Charnel House, ed. by Tom de Freston (Bridgedoor Press)

To be shortlisted alongside such impressive work is a testament to the poets and the publisher, who took a huge leap of faith in publishing a poetic graphic novel! Thank you to all who read and voted.


The Charnel House is a poetic graphic novel by artist Tom de Freston in collaboration with thirty seven contemporary poets, published by Bridgedoor Press. An exploration of conflict and the communication of loss, this narrative sought to achieve true symbiosis between poetry and art, that moves beyond illustration or description.

What voters had to say:

Extraordinarily powerful and visually stunning! Tom’s unique, disturbing images are the springboard for virulent poetry. I’ve never read an anthology like it!

The writing and artwork beautifully compliment and enhance each other – no struggle for supremacy. I would add that the art work was sublime – so emotionally powerful

Innovation. Each poem both excellent in their own right and also a strong link between them. Breaking boundaries: both a graphic novel and an anthology.

Double Bill, ed. Andy Jackson (Red Squirrel Press)

It’s very special and most unexpected to be nominated; the book’s amazing publisher Red Squirrel Press was nominated last year, and some of my favourite publications and poets have won a Saboteur over the last few years. Pulling together the Double Bill project and taking it out to a poetry audience is the most fun I’ve had in poetry, and it’s nice to think there could be a prize for having fun. Thanks to all who nominated us, and to anyone who has taken the time to vote for us.

Andy with DB1
Andy Jackson with Double Bill

Double Bill (the sequel to 2012’s Split Screen) is an innovative anthology of poems taking their influences from movies, television, music and radio. Over 100 of the UK’s finest poets contribute poems on a range of themes from Thunderbirds to Kate Bush to Reservoir Dogs to The Archers. The anthology was selected by poet and critic Clive James as one of his books of the year for 2014 in the TLS. A series of multi-media live shows is also under way to take the poems out to a live audience, with several shows set for later in 2015.

What voters had to say:

This is the way to make poetry less daunting. Excellent quality of writing, with an accessible stimulus that gives a way in for the non-literary.

Not the usual po-faced or friends-of anthology – a wide, varied and skilful selection of poems which genuinely opens up a new audience for contemporary poetry.

Vibrant, compelling anthology fully embracing the notion of entertainment in the widest sense. Often humorous, always considered. Chosen by Clive James in the TLS as one his best books of 2014. I loved it!

Furies, ed. Eve Lacey (For Books’ Sake)

I am delighted that Furies is on the shortlist for the Saboteur Awards, and in such good company. The anthology has been a brilliant success so far: we raised just under £2000 for Rape Crisis England and Wales from the first edition, and hope to launch a paperback this autumn.


Furies is the first poetry collection from For Books’ Sake, in support of Rape Crisis England & Wales. The anthology is edited by Eve Lacey, and includes a Foreword from Jenni Fagan. Furies features both emerging and established voices, including published and prize-winning authors from Imtiaz Dharker to Rebecca Goss to Patience Agbabi. Within these pages you’ll find some of the best women’s writing out there today, united in celebration of wronged and revolutionary women.

What voters had to say:

A remarkable collection of poems that showcases the best of women’s lyric– moving between the mordant, the angry and the sad with deft slight of hand.

Furies deserves to win- it contains every shade of female voice. It shouts, it whispers, it makes you smile, it makes you cry. An amazing collection!

For Books’ Sake are doing SUCH exciting things and they are still so underrated!

Ten: The New Wave, ed. Karen McCarthy Woolf (Bloodaxe)

I am delighted that Ten: The New Wave has been nominated for a Saboteur Award. The anthology gathers the work of ten BME poets who were selected for The Complete Works II – which was the second round of this ACE-funded national development scheme that exists to increase cultural diversity in mainstream poetry publishing. In Ten: The New Wave (Bloodaxe, 2014) this second generation of fellows have produced work that is confident, formally ambitious, intellectually sophisticated and powerful in its emotive reach and thematic concerns. At the heart of The Complete Works is a spirit of collaboration that engages multiple art forms and audiences, and which pushes towards a more inclusive, international poetic where diversity exists not only via its locales and cultural specificities but also through the poetry and its contribution towards a wider conversation.

Lee Blossoms LC8vo 160

Ten: the new wave presents poetry from some of the most exciting new poets in Britain today. These ten poets were selected for The Complete Works 2 mentoring project, a groundbreaking initiative to promote diversity and quality in British poetry, initiated by the writer Bernardine Evaristo. The poets follow on from the first group to take part in this scheme, whose work was published in Bernardine Evaristo and Daljit Nagra’s anthology Ten: new poets from Spread the Word (2010). Most of those poets have gone on to win awards and have their poetry collections published.

The new poets in this anthology are Mona Arshi, Jay Bernard, Kayo Chingonyi, Rishi Dastidar, Edward Doegar, Inua Ellams, Sarah Howe, Adam Lowe, Eileen Pun and Warsan Shire.

These poets have backgrounds in Asia, Europe, the Caribbean and Africa, and their work draws on their multicultural heritage and tapestry. Many of them also work across art forms and have enjoyed success as playwrights, graphic artists and even in the martial arts.

What voters had to say:

A great collection, discovered some wonderful poets in here I hadn’t come across before.

Because in one stroke it reminded people that British poetry need not be dull, hidebound and monotone, and can be frantic, manic, joyous and beautiful all at once.

The latest in a very long line of excellent Bloodaxe anthologies, featuring 10 poets whose work deserves a very wide audience.

Unthology 6, ed. Ashley Stokes and Robin Jones (Unthank Books)

We’re absolutely delighted to be shortlisted again for Unthology. Sabotage’s support and enthusiasm has always meant a lot to us.

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Unthology 6 continued the series’ theme of eclecticism and working its component stories into some sort of sequence or whole. Featuring an international cast of contributors and work of varying length and genre, tone and texture, Unthology 6 was met by universally positive reviews, including one from Sabotage that described it as ‘a beacon of hope for the short story genre.’

What voters had to say:

Unthology is by far the most eclectic, inclusive, lit-up and magical short fiction series in existence today. More than a mere collection, Unthology 6 manages to weave a disparate range of stories into something like a narrative. It’s not just fine writing; it’s fine editing from two of the best practitioners in the country.

Full of surprises, and a real mix of styles – led me to discover Elizabeth Baines, too, which is a real bonus.

The latest in a superb series of anthologies showcasing both emerging and established talent. A real committment to quality and style by the editors and designers. Each new Unthology is a joy to read.