Battalion interactive launch at Walthamstow Wetlands Lates!

We’re swooping into the dark for our festive Battalion launch! Join us for a magical interactive reading on 12th December 2018, as part of Walthamstow Wetlands Lates! We’ll be starting at 7pm sharp, and the hour will include readings and short talks from Battalion contributors L. Kiew, Mike Weston, SJ Fowler, Julia Lewis, James Coghill and Cliff Hammett. Your hosts will be your devoted editors, Kirsten and Jon. Expect party bags, micro-games and exercises themed around bats and poetry about these enchanting flying mammals. Tickets are £5, which includes a glass of mulled wine and access to all of the other events going on that evening at the reserve. You can explore the space and take a peaceful moonlight turn around the centre. You’ll also be supporting a wonderful project to protect wildlife in the heart of London.

Book your ticket at:

Facebook event:


Looking to give something back this Christmas? For every full-price Battalion we sell in December 2018, we’ll donate £1 to the Bat Conservation Trust to support their vital work.

National Poetry Day roundup: Catullus in the Guardian, Headbooks special offer and a cheeky Imp!

National Poetry Day has been and gone and delighted us all once again. We were thrilled that Bad Kid Catullus (thus far the only Sidekick title to receive a Parental Advisory sticker) was featured in the Guardian as one of their top 10 anthologies!

Here’s what they said:

Stone and Irving, the two poets responsible for Sidekick Books – a tiny publisher specialising in irresistible anthologies that double as compendia of jokes, puzzles, teases, weird lists and doodle pages – outdid themselves last year with this anthology of new and old poems inspired by ancient Rome’s filthiest wordsmith, Catullus. Certain concrete poems are X-rated, but if acrobatic acrostics and saucy experiments with form tickle your fancy, this is just the book for a weekend of Latin love.

To celebrate, we’ve extended our National Poetry Day sale until the end of the day on 5th October 2018. Get in quick and get four Headbooks for the price of three! Just £30 for four fizzing, bubbling interactive treasures!

Lastly, Sidekick’s own Kirsten Irving was chosen to represent her home county of Lincolnshire in the BBC’s Local Poets celebration. The project, organised by the Forward Arts Foundation in collaboration with the BBC, saw 12 poets from across England writing on the theme of Poetry for a Change.

Here’s the video for K’s poem, ‘The Lincoln Imp’s Birthday’.

AND FINALLY! The fun doesn’t end just because NPD is over. Stay tuned to our Twitter @SidekickBooks and our Instagram @sidekickbooks over the next few days for a robotastic competition. We can say no more for now…

National Poetry Day recommends Bad Kid Catullus!

Salve Citizens! We are thrilled to announce that National Poetry Day, the biggest annual event in the UK poetry calendar, organised by the Forward Arts Foundation, has selected Bad Kid Catullus as one of its recommended poetry books!
Look! He’s on the same list as Leonard Cohen!
Here’s what they have to say about Our Kid: “The scabrous, self-contradictory poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus (84BC-54BC) have been revisited many times before, and it’s always been a messy affair. But this collection throws the concept of the faithful translation to the wind, allowing poets to create their own weird, wild and shaggy versions. Readers too are challenged to write in this book, until “it’s full of vice and voluptuousness”. There’s no better way to summon and entertain the spirit of Catullus. Rude and beautiful!”

National Poetry Day is on 4th October 2018. Follow them on Twitter @PoetryDayUK and on Instagram @nationalpoetryday.

You can find an interactive map of events across the country here:

No, Robot, No! Deadline extended

Busy month? Didn’t quite pull together your proposal in time? We’ve decided to extend the submissions call for No, Robot, No! to Monday 26th March. (We will also be putting back the final deadline for successful proposals accordingly). Consult the full briefing here, and read about our thinking behind the submissions procedure here.

Big Sidekick 2017 Roundup! Big Sidekick 2018 Preview!

Happy New Year everyone! 2017 was fantastic for us at Sidekick Books, and we’d like to say thank you to everyone who has supported, hosted and read our work this year. Huge thanks in particular to Arts Council England (ACE) for funding our next run of alchemical misadventures – thank you for supporting us! Here’s a whistlestop rundown of our 2017 highlights, and some things to look forward to in 2018, including calls for new poetry:


Aquanauts was the first in our Headbooks series: a set of interactive, highly visual complete-me-yourself books aimed at taking poetry out of one corner and inviting readers to become collaborators. To launch Aquanauts, we joined forces with live artist and poet Abi Palmer to host Aquanautica, a deep dive into a post-flood world. Participants followed the signal of the mysterious Captain Nautilla to find a cavern of merbartenders, scientists, sirens, signs, sceptics and sculptures.
Image by John Canfield, 2017
Image by John Canfield, 2017
Image by Abi Palmer, 2017
Enjoy more of poet John Canfield’s photos on our Instagram channel. And you can find Aquanauts right here!

Bad Kid Catullus

  Bad Kid Catullus, aka Headbook #2, takes Rome’s filthiest bard as its starting point, but this is no ordinary series of translations. In BKC, an orgy of poets transports Catullus through genre, time and form: sashay from noir to high fantasy to western, spy some pointed graffiti or study a sex position calligram of those famous carmina… Get down and dirty with Bad Kid Catullus right here.

Headbooks exhibition

The Headbooks launch took place at the Poetry Café, Covent Garden, included wine, grape, figs and honey cake, as well as fauns, fornication and a forum of toga-clad poets.
Instagram /ianjmclachlan
Instagram /ianjmclachlan
Instagram /ianjmclachlan
Visit Ian McLachlan’s Instagram for more decadent photos (Ian was the faun in question!). The Headbooks exhibition features art from Kid Catullus and Aquanauts, and is on for free at the beautifully refurbished Poetry Café until 31 January 2018. BUT ALSO! Got some poems hanging around that need a good Frankensteining? Come and join us for Sidekick Remixathon, a workshop to go along with the exhibition, in which Jon and K will show you how to make gold from “gah!” More information here!

Advent Calendar

Finally for 2017, we invited poets to send us aperture poems for our Advent Calendar. The aperture poem was invented by James Midgley, and involves taking an existing text (or inventing one), and placing an imaginary window frame over part of it, leaving only a portion visible to create a new micro-poem. Like so!
Julia Rose Lewis opens a window for us.
View all 26 (yes, we got carried away) aperture poems here!


That was all dandy, but this is the exciting bit. What comes next? Do your resolutions include writing more? Then get yourself in a mechanical or echolocatory frame of mind! We’ll be issuing calls for two new Sidekick Headbooks! Follow us on Twitter or Facebook or sign up for our mailing list at the bottom of the page to get the first alerts! Ahem! 1. No, Robot, No! will be a celebration of real and fictional robots. Philosophy, ethics, mechanics, automation – choose your mode!   2. Battalion will explore the dark and delightful world of bats. We’re after biology, ecology, myth and movement – keep your ears open! Have a Happy New Year, one and all – look forward to playing with you all in 2018! Jon and Kirsty



• Submissions Call: BATS
• General Submissions Policy

Submissions Call: BATS

Deadline: 31st May

In September 2018, we plan to publish Battalion, the fourth in Sidekick’s Headbooks series, following Aquanauts, Bad Kid Catullus and No, Robot, No (out July 2018). This time our muse and subject is the bat. Bats in nature, bats in wider culture, bat facts, bat stats – also, bats as the starting point for investigations into sound, darkness, mythology, superstition, the city, and so on.

As with our previous call for submission, we are initially looking for proposals – not finished pieces, but an idea of what you would do with 3-5 pages of the book. The deadline for sending these is 31st May. If you’re interested in contributing to this project, please read the guidelines below carefully and then complete the form.

What we’re looking for

• One or more proposals for a single piece, sequence or series of pieces that would take up between 3 and 5 pages. The dimensions of the book are the same as the previous two titles in series, Aquanauts and Bad Kid Catullus, with portrait pages measuring 130 x 184mm, allowing for a gutter of about 12mm.

• Your proposal should have a thematic or structural coherence to it (ie. not just 3-5 disparate pieces) and should in some way engage with the subject of this book, even if only as an entry point.

• In terms of style and content, we are particularly keen to publish pieces that combine the visual and the lyrical in innovative and enticing ways: concrete poetry, pattern poetry, calligrams, sonograms, ideograms, collages, typographic art. Collaboration with designers and illustrators is encouraged, as is working with pre-existing texts (within fair dealing guidelines).

• We are also keen to publish pieces that include an interactive element, eg. game poems, instructional poems, invitations to the reader to write on the page or add things to the book.

• Additionally, we are looking to take on pieces that fuse the poetic with the informational. Charts, tables, timelines, glossaries. These need not be strictly factual – they might simply borrow a visual data format while following a poetic or imaginative agenda.

For Inspiration

A good place to start is the website of the Bat Conservation Trust. has a large collection of scanned out-of-copyright texts, and Wikimedia Commons is a good source of free images that may be reworked.

Cover art for The Field Guide to Typography

from Dog Ear by Erica Baum

Alphabet of Fishes by Bob Cobbing

Page 3 of A Humament (1984 version) by Tom Phillips

from Pattern Poetry: Guide to Unknown Literature by Dick Higgins

from Information is Beautiful by David McCandless

One final stipulation

We do ask that you have previously purchased at least one of our titles, or have been previously published in one of our titles. It need not be a title in the Headbooks series, but we recommend one of these if you’re new to Sidekick. The reason we’ve added this is that we think of our books as collaborative projects. We want to work generously with other writers and their own ideas, styles and aesthetics, but we also ask that you be somewhat familiar with our own approach as a small press publisher. All you need to do is indicate on the submissions form which book/s you’ve bought or been published in and where you picked them up (this also helps us develop a picture of where people are finding out about us).

Key dates and rates:

• The deadline for submitting proposals is Thursday 31st May.
Complete the form here in order to submit your proposal. We will get back to you by June 7th, and if we decide to take your proposal further we will commission the work at a rate of £20 per page (maximum five pages).
July 14th will then be the final deadline for sending us the completed work.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to email us at submissions [at]

General Submissions Policy

We periodically issue calls for proposals and submissions linked to our themed, collaborative anthologies, which we are ever evolving into a platform for a plethora of styles and approaches. You can keep up to date with our submissions calls via our blog, Twitter and Facebook feeds, so follow us there in the first instance. You can also sign up to our mailing list at the bottom of the page. Calls are open to anyone and everyone across the world, and we particularly welcome submissions from BAME, LGBTQIA+ and disabled writers.

Unfortunately, we do not consider unsolicited manuscripts or book proposals. As these requests are increasing in frequency and we’re only a two-person team, we no longer have time to reply to such enquiries. Check out the detailed list of publishers provided by the Poetry Book Fair to find a good fit for your work.

ACE news, Headbooks and making a splash!

Sidekick Books is extremely happy to announce that Arts Council England have given us funding to produce our first four Headbooks! This thrilling and unusual set of titles aims to introduce poetry to new audiences through play, rich visuals and interactive elements. Huge thanks to ACE for their generosity in supporting our work. Sidekick’s collaborative, multi-author focus means our titles fall outside the guidelines of many prizes, so ACE’s support enables us to carry on mixing, meddling and commissioning strange creations. The Headbooks series is a genre-busting set of gift books blending visual poetry with games and activities, and bringing poetry out of the corner of the bookshop, into the light. Our first Headbook, due out next month, is Aquanauts, a twisting, turning journey under the water. Featuring calligrams, colour pages, exercises and creative prompts, it’s a deep dive into the unknown and a feast for the senses. Here’s a taster:
Aquanauts cover, featuring enigmatic model El Aguador
Aquanauts cover, featuring enigmatic model El Aguador
We’ll be following up this aquatic adventure with a journey through time to the Roman empire, to meet Bad Kid Catullus, an explosive set of new Catullus translations, riffs and reactions, mixing collage with frottage. That’ll be due in September. Finally, in 2018, we’ll be issuing open calls for submissions for The Sidekick Book of Sidekicks, a tribute to the shadows that follow heroes and villains, and No, Robot, No!, an updated, multiplayer version of K and Jon’s debut joint pamphlet.