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Coin Opera II custom poems #3: GTA Vice City for Angela Cleland

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.

This time it’s the turn of the talented Angela Cleland, who requested a poem on Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. This was huge fun for K to write, and began with Cleland’s memory of a particular song playing on the in-game car stereo: Toto’s Africa.

Here’s the physical poem Cleland received, done up as protagonist Tommy Vercetti’s prison-confiscated belongings. Well, it had to catch up with him sooner or later.

And here’s a postcard for you to read.

Thanks once again to all of our amazing backers.

Coin Opera II custom poems #2: Shenmue for Carly Lightfoot

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.

This time, it’s the turn of the splendid Carly Lightfoot, who chose 1999 action-adventure game Shenmue.

Here’s the physical poem she received:

And here is a readable version, just for you:

Thanks once again to all of our amazing backers.

Coin Opera II custom poems #1: Ecstatica II for John Clegg

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.

First up, it’s Ecstatica II, chosen by John Clegg. This piece was unique in being the only poem in the series written jointly by Jon and Kirsty as rivals for the protagonist’s attention. Here is the physical poem John received, in the form of a glorious medieval-style scroll (and here’s a video of him receiving it):

And here is the poem itself:

Thanks once again to all of our amazing backers.

Three London Arts Nights Every Poet Should Know About

Whilst you’ve probably heard of, or been to, regular nights like Jawdance, Poejazzi, Utter! and Bang Said The Gun, all of which have built up a dedicated audience and a name for themselves, there are a great many distinctive lesser-known events off the beaten track. Here are three of my favourite hybrids, what makes them different and who might enjoy them.

1. Bingo Master’s Breakout

What be this?

One of the most joyfully anarchic and welcoming poetry nights in the capital, this merry stew of poetry, karaoke and bingo (yes, you heard right) is run by Kevin Reinhardt of the Vintage Poison collective. This evening has been running for years, but its existence is still a surprise to many people.

What makes it special?

Sheer variety, for starters. A typical night consists mainly of floor spots in which each performer goes up to read a poem of their own or one from a pile brought by the organisers, followed by a karaoke song of their choice. In between these spots, BMB presents a featured poet doing a longer set, who then goes on to call the numbers for a cash prize bingo game which everyone is free to play, and a band performing a karaoke set of their own songs, complete with inflatable guitars. Plus, the one-poem-one-song cap means you’re never stuck listening to an interminable mic-limpet.

Who might enjoy this?

Anyone who likes their readings a little less formal, a little less on the slam side and a lot more participatory. And of course anyone who enjoys karaoke.



Where can I find out more?

Follow BMB on Twitter or check out their Facebook page.

2. Open Arts Cafe

What be this?

Run by the charismatic singer-songwriter Maya Levy, Open Arts Cafe is a variety extravaganza, showcasing new work from upcoming artists. Each show is themed (past themes have included Smoke & Mirrors, Seafaring and I Gave My Love A Cherry) and submissions to perform take their cue from this.

What makes it special?

Well for starters, it’s in a synagogue. For my fellow gentiles, it’s not often the opportunity really arises to go explore a synagogue, and practically, it makes for outstanding acoustics. But aside from the brilliant venue, the quality of acts is always outstanding. I guarantee that even grizzled veterans of London entertainment will discover something new here. Past performances have included poetry, acrobatics, stand-up, film screenings, live theatre and an improvised jazz board game with full audience participation. There’s also an art exhibition to look round during the interval, as well as snacks and drinks.

Who might enjoy this?

Anyone who likes their poetry set like a gorgeous stone in a big old crown of other artforms; anyone who wants to discover new acts; anyone who wants to be thoroughly entertained.


Pay what you can (£6 suggested donation, which goes to the artists). Snacks are free, wine’s £3.

Where can I find out more?

Open Arts Cafe website
Facebook page

3. Scaledown

What be this?

As the name suggests, Scaledown is a night of micro-sets, hosted by Mark Braby, Shaun Hendry and poet Jude Cowan Montague.

What makes it special?

A jamboree of poetry, monologue, music and performance art, the last Scaledown I played, I was performing alongside a sound artist collaging a soundscape from language learning tapes, an incredible experimental violinist, gorgeous folk music, a costumed band straight out of a Frank Zappa daydream and the hosts kicking off with an acapella song. Special enough?

Who might enjoy this?

Anyone who (not unreasonably) dreads a poetry set going over 15 minutes. With its quickfire lineup, Scaledown flat-out refuses to let you get bored.


Free, but do, as they say, check out the Table of Wares and support the artists if the fancy takes you.

Where can I find out more?

Scaledown website

K reading with Brian Patten on Thursday 3rd June 2014!

I’m extremely excited to be reading at the Landmark Arts Centre in Teddington on 3rd June (that’s this Thursday) with Utter! MC Richard Tyrone Jones, Charles Causley Poetry Competition winner, Jo Bell, the irrepressible Julie Mullins and Brian Patten!

Fun fact about Teddington: Its famous residents and former residents include Mo Farah, Noel Coward and Benny Hill (who mentions Two-Ton Ted from Teddington in the song ‘Ernie, the Fastest Milkman in the West’).

Further fun fact about Teddington: It is but a short, Oysterable train ride from Clapham Junction or Waterloo

The Landmark announcement is here, the Facebook event is here and you’re advised to book ahead. Look forward to seeing you there!

Saboteur Awards 2014 roundup (with bonus Sidekick triumph!)

Woooo! Sidekick Books won Best Collaboration for Riotous yesterday at the Sabotage Reviews annual Saboteur Awards! Thank you to everyone who voted for us!

K following surgery to graft the trophy onto her head.

For those who don’t know the Saboteur awards, they are run by the Sabotage staff Claire Trevien, Richard T Watson and James Webster, and are an incredible force for recognition in independent publishing, particularly poetry. As with the website themselves, the awards are run voluntarily, and are nominated and voted for by readers and fans. They are also the only awards we know of in the world to recognise collaboration and anthologies.

The ceremony was held at the Jericho Pub, Oxford, and had a brilliant turnout. The accompanying all-dayer included showcases from last year’s Best Magazine champions RisingThe Emma Press (surely one to watch for next year’s awards) readings from Lucy Ayrton, Paul Hawkins and Best Spoken Word Performer winner Steve Nash. I also discovered the brilliant work of short story writer May-Lan Tan (Best Short Story Collection nominee and unofficial winner of the Best Twitter Name award) for the first time. Check out the haul:

Huge, huge congratulations to all the winners, including the brilliant Poems in Which, run by Amy Key and Nia Davies and illustrated by Sophie Gainsley.

Particular kudos is due to Nine Arches Press, winner of Most Innovative Publisher. One of the hardest-working, friendliest and most dedicated small presses active today, with a seriously impressive oeuvre. Great also to see recognition for non-London presses (and we say that as a London press).

Huge thanks to the Sabotage crew for a fantastic event, a breath of fresh Oxford air and an opportunity for us independents to show the world what we do and why. Here’s to next year!

For the full results, visit Sabotage Reviews. And while you’re there, have a good look around. This is what it’s all about.

Sabotage Awards, Angela Lansbury and new Sidekick Cat!

Finest acolytes! Much news from Sidekick HQ!

Firstly, Sidekick Books has been nominated for THREE Sabotage awards! We’re up for (drumroll):

Most Innovative Publisher

Best Collaboration
 (for our hand-sewn tropical zoo sonnet sequence Riotous)

So if you like what we do, please remember we need your vote to win! No registration gubbins needed. It’ll take less than a minute (or more if you’d like to elaborate on why you dig our strange creations). The Sabotage Awards are a big deal for small presses, so thank you in advance for casting your ballots!

Secondly, if you’re in London this week, get thee to Waterstones Hampstead this Tuesday 13th May at 7pm for some Angela Lansbury lovin’, featuring Twin Peaks, murder and     shunds. If you missed the launch, or simply need your Jessica hit, join Chrissy Williams as she takes us deep into the world of ‘Angela’

The King’s Cross launch event last year was packed, so this is a great opportunity to see one of London’s wittiest, warmest and most innovative poets share her darker Cabot Cove obsessions. 

Tickets: £5

Facebook event here.
Buy the book here, with free Angela pin badge!

Thirdly, please wish a warm welcome to Mitchell the Cat, who has moved from a prominent position with lots of responsibility at Battersea Cats and Dogs Home to our Silvester Road HQ, and is currently on photocopying duties.

Have a fantastic Eurovision, everyone! Let’s wish Conchita Wurst all the best!

Launching Angela

So the 16th October was the actress Angela Lansbury‘s 88th birthday, and the day we launched Chrissy Williams‘ and Howard Hardiman‘s Angela into the world. The party was at Drink, Shop & Do near King’s Cross. There was cake, games, much donning of Angela masks, and your correspondent sampled a Smouldering Cherry cocktail in celebration of the book’s debt to Twin Peaks. 

If you weren’t there and you haven’t picked up a copy yet, Angela is in part a poetic and visual tribute to Lansbury, in particular her role as Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote, but also a Lynchean descent into the otherworldly realm between our world and the world of detective fiction. It’s very dark and very funny, and lovingly illustrated in the starkest of colours. It also might freak you the hell out, so we’d recommend reading in daylight, among friends.

Chrissy Williams has also just been shortlisted for a Michael Marks Award for her previous pamphlet, Flying Into the Bear, and she has several typically unique poems in our just-around-the-corner mega-anthology Coin Opera 2: Fulminare’s Revenge. In fact, since we finished putting that book together, the various contributors can’t seem to stop winning prizes and getting put onto shortlists. That’s a good sign, eh?

And yes, that is a madeira cake above with a knife stuck into it, bleeding copious amounts of jam. That’s the kind of party we throw.

FREE VERSE: The Poetry Book Fair

After being in absentia last year, Sidekick will be back at the Free Verse book fair this Saturday, held at Conway Hall in London from 10pm onwards.

At least three new books will be available there for the very first time (we’ll be publishing them all later this month). Two of them are as follows:

Follow the Trail of Moths, the best of Wayne Holloway-Smith’s literary salons, with illustrations by Sophie Gainsley …

… and Angela, an illustrated team-up pamphlet by Chrissy Williams and Howard Hardiman. Want to know more? Come see us this Saturday! Or else stay tuned for further details and announcements.

Camarade Poetry Reading: K v Ryan Van Winkle!

On Saturday 9th February, SJ Fowler presents the fourth edition of his collaboration project Camarade. 26 poets have been paired up and challenged to create something unholy incredible together. Kirsty will be joining forces with Ryan Van Winkle (investigate his book, Tomorrow We Will Live Here) on a very strange love letter.

The full line-up promises an impressive mixture of sonic, experimental, formal and free-flowing poetry. If you fancy something a little different to your average reading, get thee to Shoreditch.

Click on the flyer for more information.

Nearest tubes: Shoreditch High Street, Liverpool Street, Old Street.


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