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Surveyors’ Riddles Oxford Launch

Giles Goodland and Alistair Noon will be launching their sprawlingly epic collaborative pamphlet Surveyors’ Riddles at the Albion Beatnik in Oxford this Friday, 2nd October, from 7.30pm.

That’s the Albion Beatnik, 34 Walton Street in Oxford, the very next Friday after this very blogpost, from half past seven o’clock in the evening!

But what is Surveyors’ Riddles exactly? Or rather, what are the Surveyors’ Riddles? A lost ancient text from an alternative dimension? A kind of auto-mutating procedural text containing clues to the past and the future? A series of translations that take place through a dozen languages?  Do even Noon and Goodland know what they have uncovered through their audacious technique of ‘genetic poem sequencing’?

We at Sidekick invite you to let this ever-shifting, anarcho-comic-historic poemavalanche swallow you up.

Prize Poetry Cosplay competition at Free Verse this Saturday!

In what may well be a world-first, this Saturday, Free Verse Poetry Book Fair is hosting a Poetry Cosplay competition, with splendid poetic swag for prizes! Sidekick Books are stoked to be judging this versquerade, which will take place at the Square Pig & Pen, Holborn, just after the thrills and spills of the main fair.

For those of you curious, but with a budget reserved strictly for books, or a shopping bag that will not accommodate a full bodily replica of Purgatory, here are some suggestions:

1. Poets like writing about objects.

From W.H. Auden’s stopped clocks to Dorothy Parker’s red dress, there are stacks of adornments and gubbins with which to decorate yourself. Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons is chock-full of little bits and bobs. The title alone lends itself to a little simple craft.

2. Home-made and ramshackle wins the race.

No need to spend much – just raid the cupboards! Cover yourself in tinfoil to recreate ‘Silver’ by Walter de la Mare, or don a sheet for Donne’s ‘The Apparition’. It’s all about the walk-off in the end.

3. Puns are your friend.

Yes they are. And since I come from Grimsby, I am absolutely biased if you rock up in a GTFC football shirt and white beard,using the team’s nickname to be ‘Ryme of the Ancient Mariner’. Or something. What I’m trying to say is, you’re a wordsmith. Get smithy.

Wordsworth, anyone?
4. Team up!

Here at Sidekick, we’re all about collaboration, and if you’re shy, camaraderie might give you the boost you need. So whether you’re the Twa Corbies, the Owl and the Pussycat, or one man and his corvine nemesis for The Raven, it’ll be more fun with a friend.

Name that Lewis Carroll poem!

5. If all else fails and you’re blessed with a strong chin, Ted Hughes is your spirit animal.

A rumpled shirt and a stack of Brycreem and Crow’s your uncle.

Disclaimer: Free Verse and Sidekick Books accept no responsibility to cool impartiality, should someone walk in in a full-on Jabberwocky outfit.

Over The Line: Launched, Available and Gearing Up for Gosh

Over The Line: An Introduction to Poetry Comics, edited by Chrissy Williams and Tom Humberstone, is out now and available via our site. Bookshops should be able to order it in from Thursday.

One of our two launch events has been and gone – wine, short readings and talks were laid on at the Poetry Cafe last Thursday, accompanying an exhibition of pages from the book that will run in the cafe until 31st October.

Work by Ivy Alvarez and Cristian Ortiz on the wall of the Poetry Cafe

The view from the book table

John Aggs discussing his poem-comic collaboration with W. N. Herbert
The second launch event will take place on 17th September at Gosh Comics in London, from 7pm, and a whole swathe of the contributing writers and artists will be in attendance.

If you’re planning on coming and want to buy any of our other books directly from us, just let us know via email and we’ll bring some along!

Comics and Cosplay: Sidekick hits the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair!

It’s that time again! On Saturday 26th September, the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair rolls into town! (Conway Hall, to be precise.)

Organised by poets Chrissy Williams and Joey Connolly, the event is not so much a book fair as a raucous celebration of poetry in all its guises. In Williams and Connolly’s words:

Free Verse is an all-day bazaar, market, library, meeting place, performance venue, information resource and more. Celebrating the vitality of contemporary poetry in the UK, publishers both large and small, both experimental and traditional, display and sell their work direct to the public.

We’ll be there with a whole raft of new goodies and we’ll also be judging a world first:

A Poetry Cosplay Parade!

Gah. There’s always, like, fifty Geoffrey Hills.

Yes! Come as a poet or a poem, or something tangentially related that requires a detailed explanation but that makes you feel ALIVE. The winner will receive eternal glory and £100 in poetry books!

Most importantly, come and say hi. We’ll be hopped up on coffee and very friendly, and sharing a table with the magnificent Happenstance.

Comics Poetry Launch/Exhibition/Workshops, as approved by Alan Moore!

Sidekick is ridiculously excited to be publishing Over The Line, an introduction to comics poetry edited by poet and comics editor Chrissy Williams and comics artist Tom Humberstone.

And it’s not just us, apparently. A certain comics legend says the following about the project:

“This is that spine-tingling moment when two attractive and sophisticated forms, both admired for their rhythm and sense of timing, eye each other across the cultural dance floor. In Over The Line, at once an insightful introduction and a comprehensive showcase for the emerging phenomenon of Poetry Comics, Chrissy Williams and Tom Humberstone provide the best possible venue for what looks like being a breathtaking tango. I really can’t recommend this venture highly enough, and I’d advise you mark your card immediately.”
                                                                                                ALAN MOORE

We’re so excited, in fact, that we’re having not one but TWO launches.

Launch #1 is on Thursday 3rd September from 6.30pm, to mark the opening of the accompanying exhibition at the Poetry Cafe. Here is the event!

Readers include: Sophie Herxheimer, Anna Saunders, Amy Key, Chris McCabe, John Aggs, Chrissy Williams and others.

Launch #2 will embrace the comics side of its dual nature, taking place at the splendid Gosh Comics on Thursday 17th September. Here is the Facebook event!

Readers and artists include: John Canfield; Lorraine Mariner; Shauna Robertson; Ioan Morris; RH Parry; Sean Azzopardi; Cristian Ortiz; Douglas Noble; Hayley Fiddler; Emix Regulus.

Come and meet the editors, drool over the merch and get stuck into poetry comics!


If you’d like to learn how to make your own poetry comics, editor and long-time comics-poetry-workshop organiser, Chrissy Williams is running a Poetry School workshop on Saturday 5th August, where you can do just that! Investigate here!


And in case you’re bamboozled, more information on poetry comics lives here:

This Happened: The Lives Beyond Us Launch

Cliff Hammett with chronophotographic image of a falling cat.
A huge thanks to everyone who came last Tuesday to help up launch Lives Beyond Us: Essays and Poems on the Film Reality of Animals!

For the uninitiated, Lives Beyond Us is a cross-genre anthology with gorgeous colour illustrations throughout. Covering topics as diverse as voyeurism, comic pratfalls and bear interventions, it’s a fresh look at a beloved topic, curated by Kirsten Irving (poems) and Seb Manley (essays).

The anthology is a super-thick bundle of Sidekick-style guile and intrigue, and costs £12 plus postage. Click here to see more and buy.

Cat watches humans watching bird.
We launched the book upstairs at the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel. Since Sidekick started life in Whitechapel and was based there for five years – less than ten minutes’ walk from the Genesis, in fact – it seemed an oh-so appropriate place to unveil a book that dives face first into film history.

Here’s how the book in question fared under UV light as Jon was setting out the table:

Before the hoard descended.
We had readings and a slideshow, and there was an animal film quiz with a tricksy rebus round by long-time Sidekick ally Siân Moore. Alongside the editors, contributing writers Mike West, Rebecca Wigmore, Sophie Mayer, Simon Barraclough, Angela Cleland, Abigail Parry, Cliff Hammett and James Coghill were all present and correct.

We piece this account together now from whirling fragments, as we spent much of the evening rushing between the projection room (well, the cupboard with the technical things in it), the book stall and various old friends – a little chaotically, since this was our first book launch in over a year and we’d forgotten just how much needs doing to keep things running semi-smoothly.

Lessons learned: always give five-minute warnings in a quiz show host voice; PCs can project to a second screen in one of four different ways; electric fans give poets a neat ‘windswept’ appearance when placed correctly.

Finally, evidence that a selection of readers, hosts, editors and audience members felt the animal magic and posed it out onstage. What a grrrrrand night.

Post-launch cast and crew superhero pose

Seven-Player Co-op: a Coin Opera II event!

For those of you unable to access the Facebook event, this Thursday 6th November we will be hosting Seven Player Co-op, an evening of game poetry, at the Four Quarters Bar, 187 Rye Lane, Peckham.

Contributors to ‘Coin Opera 2: Fulminare’s Revenge‘ reunite for an evening of poems based on, or inspired by, computer games, featuring: Samuel Prince, Gabrielle Nolan, Harry Man, Emily Hasler, Clifford Hammett, Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving.

And possibly a Top Secret End of Level Boss. I can say no more for now.

We’ll be setting a quiz and offering as a prize on the night the top level Kickstarter reward!

So that’s:
  • a copy of Coin Opera II in all its hot-foiled glory!
  • a copy of procedurally-generated and hand-sewn experimental poetry pamphlet Core Samples, featuring poems which drill through levels in Zool, Trine, Grim Fandango and more!
  • a poster featuring sprites of all of COII’s contributing poets.
  • a rather snazzy badge.
  • a copy of Super Treasure Arcade, a full-colour pocket booklet featuring a poem a game for every year between 1971 and 2013.
Nearest station is Peckham Rye Overground and readings will start between 7.30 and 8pm. Lots of buses too! The bar also has old school arcade machines, so you can take your pick of entertainments!

Coin Opera II custom poems #5: Fallen London for Claire Trévien

As top-tier rewards during our Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of video games poetry anthology Coin Opera II, we offered backers the chance to have their own custom poem written on a game of their choice. In the run-up to our Seven-Player Co-op event on Thursday 6th November at Four Quarters Bar, Peckham, we’ll be revealing the finished poems, now in the hands of their wonderful backers.

Poet and storyteller Claire Trévien selected Failbetter Games‘ steampunk text adventure Fallen London. Kirsty used the familiar refrain of the game to bring the narrative swinging back around each time.

Here’s what a mysterious stranger dropped through Claire’s door:

And here’s the poem to read (simpler text below, as the author was a scrawler):

Hmm. This might be a bit easier on the eye:

Delicious Friend
For Claire Trévien

The Embassy is quiet tonight.
No lesser imps by sulphurlight.
You could go home and pour a tot.
Perhaps not.

No, you have business. Old acquaintance.
A scent of debt and smoking incense.
“I thought I’d have to have you caught.”
Perhaps not.

She welcomes you with blazing eyes.
“I do hope you can help,” she sighs.
“Perhaps you’ve never been this hot.”
Perhaps not.

She tells you that she’s burning up
and can’t be quenched by any cup.
Your legs are weak. The candle’s squat.
Perhaps not.

You hand her now the blotto youth.
“He’ll do quite well,” she purrs. In truth,
you nearly ask, “Do well for what?”
Perhaps not.

“Your hand is empty. Stay awhile.
I’d like to see that thieving smile.
You know, we both might learn a jot.”
Perhaps not.

“Well, I’ve jawed on for eons, kitten.
Tell me of your expedition.”
Rapt, she wants to hear the lot.
Perhaps not.

You tell her of the rubber men
who flubbled through the laudanum dens,
and nearly mention what they sought.
Perhaps not.

The Carnival. The iron knives.
You tell her you live many lives.
“With many souls? Now there’s a thought.”
Perhaps not.


Thanks once again to all of our amazing backers.

Coin Opera II custom poems #4: Civilization V for Helen Lewis

As top-tier rewards during our Kickstarter campaign to fund the printing of video games poetry anthology Coin Opera II, we offered backers the chance to have their own custom poem written on a game of their choice. In the run-up to our Seven-Player Co-op event on Thursday 6th November at Four Quarters Bar, Peckham, we’ll be revealing the finished poems, now in the hands of their wonderful backers.

The fantastic Helen Lewis chose Civilization V for her custom poem, and the finished piece ended up being excavated by Kirsty from many sediments and centuries, with just a dusting of Coleridge left behind.

Here’s the readable text for you to enjoy.

Thanks once again to all of our amazing backers.


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