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Hipflask Books: Deadline Extension

The cover designs of the new Hipflask series

We’ve had some enquiries from writers saying that our original deadline for the Hipflask series call was rather too tight in terms of their being able to come up with original work. In response, we’re extending the deadline for submissions by one month to Sunday 28th November.

Hopefully that will give more of you a chance to be included in the project! We’ve had a healthy response so far, and will begin reading though these over the next month – but we won’t make any final decisions until after the new deadline has passed.

Spotlight: LOOK AGAIN

The call for submissions for our latest books, the Hipflask Series, is open until 25th October 2021. These are unusual titles, even by Sidekick standards, so we’ve put together a series of short posts, one for each of the four books, breaking down the ideas and influences behind the book and what we’re looking for from you. This time we’re squinting and spying to find the covert comms in the texts all around us, with…

Book cover for Look Again, featuring a moth melded with a pair of binoculars

What’s the big idea?

“I carry my unwritten poems in cipher on my face!”
– George Eliot

We all want to be in on a secret, to have some subtle inside knowledge that gives us mastery over a subject. It’s the root of conspiracy theories, espionage and even honest translation. Just as we look for faces in everyday objects, even if the original author hasn’t planted a message in their work for someone to find, chances are we’ll spot one anyway.

Who and what gave us the idea for this book?

There’s a rich tradition of text-bothering in literature, and we’ve been keen to revisit this theme since our micro-anthology Korsakoff’s Paper Chain, which saw a hapless Meccano manual burned, eaten and dissolved, then painstakingly restored by poets making their best guess at its contents.

What are we looking for in submissions?

We’re after two different kinds of text for this title: firstly, pieces which conceal, typographically, a hidden message which an average reader stands a good chance of being able to figure out. Each piece should be no longer than 250 words, 25 lines of verse, or one page (see template for page size).

Secondly, we want your discoveries of hidden messages inside existing texts. You can send us high-res scans of texts you have annotated, blocked out or doctored to reveal the message, or you can send us an image accompanied by an explanatory text. The explanation should be no longer than 250 words, 25 lines of verse, or one page (see template for page size). The image should fit on one page. Bear in mind that the book will be printed in black and white.

There may be copyright issues with reproducing some texts, and we will have to examine these on an as-they-come basis. We recommend using texts that are in the public domain.

Please send us no more than three pieces per individual submission.

What are we not looking for?

Brand names, fleeting trends and adult content. We want the Hipflasks to be as enjoyable 20 years from now as they are today, and we want to take them to as large an audience as possible.

Where to look for inspiration?

• The New York Public Library has an excellent selection of text and image erasure art: https://www.nypl.org/blog/2015/04/20/erasure-literature

• Spycraft of all kinds, e.g. singer Josephine Baker’s secret messages to the French resistance, written in invisible ink on her sheet music.

• Vladimir Nabokov’s genre-dodging Pale Fire chooses not to deface or erase its core text (a poem by the fictional writer John Shade), but instead drowns it out with the pompous footnotes of his narrator, Shade scholar Charles Kinbote.

Writing Through The Cantos by John Cage takes a typically disruptive approach to Ezra Pound’s opus, as Cage seeks and caps up the author’s name hiding in various lines:
page from John's Cage's poem Writing Through The Cantos

Any further questions?

Check the call for submissions in case your answer lies there. If not, email contact[at]sidekickbooks.com or find us on Twitter @SidekickBooks.

Spotlight: YOU AGAIN

The call for submissions for our latest books, the Hipflask Series, is open until 25th October 2021. These are unusual titles, even by Sidekick standards, so we’ve put together a series of short posts, one for each of the four books, breaking down the ideas and influences behind the book and what we’re looking for from you. Today we’re encountering the mixed feelings, tense tangos and dark duels of…

Book cover for You Again, featuring a dancing couple whose heads are a lighter and a trail of gunpower.

What’s the big idea?

Smeagol: [weeping] “I hate you. I hate you.”
Gollum: “Where would you be without me, uh? Gollum, gollum… I saved us! It was me! We survived because of me!”
Smeagol: [stops crying] “Not anymore.”
– Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

You Again is a book bursting with romance and rows, magnetism and antagonism, sweet-sorrow partings and good-riddances. Contributors will each write about a person, place, idea, object etc. that both attracts and repulses them, raising both their heart-rate and their blood pressure simultaneously.

Who and what gave us the idea for this book?

Love-hate relationships have been written about since time immemorial. Roman poet Catullus’ in Carmina 85 (Odi Et Amo), wrote:

“I hate and I love. Wherefore I do this, perhaps you ask.
I do not know, but I feel it being done and I am tormented.”

More recently in history, we’ve seen non-romantic examples. Take the fraught dynamic between James Joyce and Dublin, the hometown he fled but could not forget. Or Michael Bluth’s bungee-cord attachment to his dysfunctional family in Arrested Development. Something about these relationships keeps us coming back time and again.

What are we looking for in submissions?

We want your lyrical narrative or critical writing on something you both love and hate. This could be a person, an institution, an abstract concept, or anything else. We want to see the conflict and complexity that characterises these relationships laid out on the page.

For structure, think prose poems and micro lyrical essays. Maximum length if submitting in prose form: 600 words per piece. Maximum length if submitting in verse form: 50 lines per piece, and a maximum of three pieces.

What are we not looking for?

Images, brand names, fleeting trends and adult content. We want the Hipflasks to be as enjoyable 20 years from now as they are today, and we want to take them to as large an audience as possible.

Give us an example.

William Wilson – Edgar Allan Poe’s short, sharp tale of paranoia and guilty conscience sees the eponymous speaker encounter an identically named man who follows the narrator throughout his life, seemingly to highlight his inadequacies and faults. The speaker begins by being dazzled by the other Wilson, and being mistaken for his brother, but this enchantment gradually turns to loathing and resentment, culminating in tragedy.

Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) – one of the best-known literary love-hate tales. The pendulum of affection between Catherine and Heathcliff swings in the winds of the rough moors, from romance to rage to ruin.

Here You Come Again (Dolly Parton) – a classic Dolly song about getting back on your feet after heartbreak, only for the heartbreaker to stroll back into town and undo all that hard work by smiling that smile.

No Children (Mountain Goats) – this lilting, caustic ballad tells of a marriage of mutual, unbreakable loathing. A surprisingly popular song choice for weddings.

Any further questions?

Check the call for submissions in case your answer lies there. If not, email contact[at]sidekickbooks.com or find us on Twitter @SidekickBooks.

Spotlight: ROLL AGAIN

The call for submissions for our latest books, the Hipflask Series, is open until 25th October 2021. These are unusual titles, even by Sidekick standards, so we’ve put together a series of short posts, one for each of the four books, breaking down the ideas and influences behind the book and what we’re looking for from you. Today it’s the turn of our Puckish playbook, full of rules and misrule…

Book cover for Roll Again, showing a dice rolling along a game board path that turns into a snake.

What’s the big idea?

“Not only does God play dice, but… he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.”
– Stephen Hawking

Games are not just pastimes or diversions. They allow to us to bat about ideas, meet and overcome resistance, come together with others (or find new ways of being with ourselves), and create new works as by-products of our play.

Games and poetry cross over in these goals, and this book gathers together new games with creative, poetic elements, in a jostling, joyful compendium for rainy days, holidays – all days, really.

Who and what gave us the idea for this book?

Instructive, or didactic, poetry has been around for centuries. Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, Sei Shonagon’s The Pillow Book, Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata and even Mary Schmich’s ‘Wear Sunscreen’ speech (later set to music by Baz Luhrmann) all offer guidance on how to progress. This book gathers similarly instructive work, but instead of life, we want to know how to play games. Your games.

What are we looking for in submissions?

Send us the rules or explanations to your own invented games – up to three per individual submission. No game is too simple. They should be at least theoretically playable by readers, and as accessible as possible (i.e. not requiring expensive or exclusive equipment or staging). They can be reimagined versions of existing games, physical or mental, tabletop or outdoor, but the submission should consist mainly of a description of how the game is played.

You can include diagrams for illustrative purposes, but bear in mind that the book will be printed in black and white, and please take into account the page dimensions (see template in call). We’re looking for pieces not longer than 600 words for prose/prose-like text, 50 lines for verse, or three pages (again, check the template for the page dimensions).

What are we not looking for?

Brand names, fleeting trends and adult content. We want the Hipflasks to be as enjoyable 20 years from now as they are today, and we want to take them to as large an audience as possible.

Where to look for inspiration?

• Adam Dixon’s Gamepoems are a great place to start. Find simple ways of slipping poetry into your daily wanders.

•Sidekick’s own interactive Headbooks series includes puzzle and play pages linked to the poetry in the books.

Holly Gramazio has created a treasury of digital and analog games. Among her many projects is a website with accompanying book called New Rules, exploring modes of play during the pandemic.

House: Some Instructions by Grace Paley is a ladder or staircase of a poem, ushering us into the emotions of the house in question and guiding us in its care.

How to Make Stew in the Pinacate Desert by Gary Snyder takes the form of a recipe, seasoned and peppered with environmental details.

Any further questions?

Check the call for submissions in case your answer lies there. If not, email contact[at]sidekickbooks.com or find us on Twitter @SidekickBooks.

Spotlight: SAY IT AGAIN

The call for submissions for our latest books, the Hipflask Series, is open until 25th October 2021. These are unusual titles, even by Sidekick standards, so we’ve put together a series of short posts, one for each of the four books, breaking down the ideas and influences behind the book and what we’re looking for from you. First up, we’re twisting words and queering quotations with …

Book cover for Say It Again, featuring a dictaphone merged with an octopus

What’s the big idea?

“All generalizations are false, including this one.” – Mark Twain

Say It Again is Sidekick’s take on the grand tradition of collating the pronouncements, sayings, maxims, pearls, barbs, aphorisms and witticisms of notable and influential people. We want to pack the book with quotes, sage or otherwise – but edited, rearranged, translated and monkeyed with, so as to create new wisdoms and venture alternative meanings.

Who and what gave us the idea for this book?

One influence was The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd – a collection of odd English place names, to which the authors attach amusing and useful definitions:

Sample: “Amersham (noun): The sneeze which tickles but never comes. (Thought to derive from the Metropolitan Line tube station of the same name where the rails always rattle but the train never arrives.)”

We also had in mind various books of sayings and guidance, including Poor Richard’s Almanack by Benjamin Franklin, Mrs Beeton’s Guide To Household Management by Isabella Beeton and The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

We did think at one point of trying to compile a book of gravestone humour and other, similar material, but we wanted to come up with something that left room for contributors to be creative and adventurous.

What are we looking for in submissions?

We want you to rejig and reimagine existing quotations. These might come from Cicero or Lizzo, statutes or songs, The Art of War or the Haynes Manual. Any text is fair game, so choose your sources thoughtfully and deliberately. Subvert, skew and swap elements until something very interesting emerges.

Alternatively, you can take a genuine quote and gift it to an entirely incorrect speaker. Or simply transplant the correct person saying the correct quote in time, space or context to change its meaning entirely.

Each misquotation/piece can be very short (the normal length of a quotation) and should be no longer than 200 words, 25 lines, or one page (see the submissions call for a page template). Send us up to 10 individual misquotations/pieces.

What are we not looking for?

Images, brand names, fleeting trends and adult content. We want the Hipflasks to be as enjoyable 20 years from now as they are today, and we want to take them to as large an audience as possible.

Where to look for inspiration?

• Nick Asbury’s Corpoetics would fall foul of our embargo on brand names, but the idea of completely remixing a corporate statement anagrammatically is one worth extending.

• Graham Rawle’s Lost Consonants wreak havoc through the removal of a single letter.

The Archive of Misheard Lyrics could serve as a good starting point if you’re interested in working with pop songs.

• Or you might like to kick off by automating the process with The Incorrect Quote Generator.

Any further questions?

Check the call for submissions in case your answer lies there. If not, email contact[at]sidekickbooks.com or find us on Twitter @SidekickBooks.

Submissions wanted for the Hipflask series!

Sidekick Books are back with a call for submissions!
Send us your finest creative moonshine! Four book covers, featuring a dictaphone blended with an octopus, a game board blended with a snake, a couple dancing blended with gunpowder and a lighter and a moth blended with binoculars.























In early 2022, Sidekick Books will be publishing four brand new anthologies in a limited series we’re calling Hipflasks, and we want you to help us fill them.

The titles will be:
  • Say It Again: a book of misquotations
  • Roll Again: a book of games to play
  • You Again: a book of love-hate stories
  • Look Again: a book of hidden messages
  Like a real hipflask, these books will be squat, potent and portable, with notes of poetry and kicks of intertextual meddling. Great for hiding in your garter! Readers will be able to dip in for a nip or a slug, share them and savour their contents. Go to Call for Submissions Deadline: 25th October 2021

Sandsnarl: new pamphlet from Sidekick’s Jon Stone!

Sidekick editor Jon Stone recently launched his pamphlet Sandsnarl with the ever-excellent Emma Press.

Sandsnarl cover - yellow swirls on a white background

Sandsnarl is a settlement steeped in sand – though where it came from and how long ago is a matter of tall tales and steely whispers. The sand itself makes accurate record-keeping impossible. It is drug, ore, plague and delicacy. The inhabitants of this region (or is it a fallen kingdom?) talk and think through its haze. Some alter their shape. Others fizz and seethe with the habit of resistance. These poems eavesdrop, extract and sift. Together, they make a brief impression of a time and place, a Buñuelian musical without the music.

Click here to view sample poems and buy your copy!

Where have Sidekick Books been, and what’s next?

Oh, hi there! Good to see you. How’ve you been? Yeah, not bad thanks. Getting along.

Oh, sorry. WHERE have we been for the last year? It’s a good question. Thanks to the pandemic, Jon and K have been in London, Durham, Derbyshire, Buckinghamshire – all over the shop really.

This has meant an unofficial Sidekick Books hiatus throughout 2020 and halfway through 2021. Like a lot of small presses we’ve looked at the pandemic situation with a furrowed brow, and held off making concrete plans for future projects until now.

Confused red robot This last year has been testing for everyone, but it’s also been a time of discovery. During the pandemic, both Jon and K got assessed for ADHD, and both had the diagnosis confirmed. 2020 was apparently a record year for ADHD diagnosis, and this makes sense – once you’ve had a lot of social engines switched off and you’re left with your thoughts, you often spot things that have been masked by the hectic day-to-day. If you’re curious about late-diagnosis ADHD, K writes about her experience on her personal blog.

What this means is, now we know a little bit more about why we find certain aspects of publishing and, y’know, general moving through the world, especially difficult. That’s information we can work with to make Sidekick Books even better.

One-Off Indie Poetry Press Festival logo Getting back into the poetry publishing groove, Sidekick Books recently joined in the fun at the online One-Off Indie Poetry Press (OOIPP) festival from 19-25 July 2021. Organised by Jake Wild Hall of Bad Betty Press, this week-long Zoom festival celebrated UK indie poetry publishing at its finest.

There were stacks of excellent readings – many folk really playing with the Zoom format as a new tool for creative performance. Our Sidekick champions were Ian McLachlan (Confronting the Danger of Art, Bad Kid Catullus), Rowyda Amin (We Go Wandering at Night and Are Consumed By Fire, No, Robot, No!), JT Welsch, (Hell Creek Anthology) and Chelsea Cargill (Aquanauts).

Presses featured were: Bad Betty Press, Out-Spoken Press, Stewed Rhubarb Press, Broken Sleep Books, Guillemot Books, The Emma Press, flipped eye publishing, Lifeboat Press, Burning Eye Books, Hesterglock Press, HVTN Press (Haverthorn Press), Hajar Press, Verve Poetry Press and Hercules Editions.

So what’s next?

New books and calls for submissions!

In the grand Sidekick tradition, we’re planning several gorgeous, playful themed collaborative books for release in 2022. Some will be pocket rockets and some will be big old beasts. There will be hidden messages, miniature games, love, hate and inventions aplenty.

Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or sign up to our mailing list for new submissions calls.


Inpress logo Finally, huge thanks to our amazing sales and marketing agents Inpress, who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to keep promoting and selling our books, testing out new technologies to help indie publishers, negotiating with various stakeholders and keeping our spirits high. They’ve also shown the patience of saints when dealing with our pre-diagnosis communications. We’re incredibly grateful for their tenacity, skills and support, and excited to work more closely with them from now on.

That’s us up to date for now. Thanks, as ever, for your support in these strange times. Onward to new adventures!

Sidekick Books at the One-Off Indie Poetry Press festival (OOIPP)

The incomparable Bad Betty Press, run by poets Amy Acre and Jake Wild Hall, have been hard at work organising a new online festival – the One-Off Indie Poetry Press festival (OOIPP). It’s a week-long jamboree of dynamic independent publishing from 19-25 July, and a tasty tapas for all.

Sidekick Books is taking part in two days of the festival, represented by Rowyda Amin (We Go Wandering At Night and are Consumed by Fire), Chelsea Cargill (Aquanauts), Ian McLachlan (Confronting the Danger of Art, Bad Kid Catullus) and J.T. Welsch (Hell Creek Anthology).

Events start tonight (19 July) and run from 19.15-20.45 BST. It’s pay-what-you-can, so book on Eventbrite and enjoy the rich range of indie poetry being published in the UK today.

Here’s the line-up:

Day 1 (19 July)
  • Bad Betty Press
  • Outspoken Press
  • Stewed Rhubarb
  • BOOK HERE

    Day 2 (20 July)
  • Broken Sleep
  • Guillemot
  • The Emma Press
  • BOOK HERE

    Day 3 (21 July)
  • Flipped Eye
  • Life Boat
  • Burning Eye
  • BOOK HERE

    Day 4 (22 July)
  • Hesterglock
  • Haverthorn
  • Hajar
  • BOOK HERE

    Day 5 (23 July)
  • Verve
  • Hercules Editions
  • Sidekick Books
  • BOOK HERE

    Day 6 Showcase (24 July)
  • Outspoken
  • Stewed Rhubarb
  • Guillemot
  • The Emma Press
  • Life Boat
  • Hesterglock
  • Haverthorn
  • BOOK HERE

    Day 7 Showcase (25 July)
  • Bad Betty Press
  • Broken Sleep
  • Verve
  • Hercules Editions
  • Sidekick Books
  • Burning Eye
  • Hajar
  • Flipped Eye
  • BOOK HERE

    See you there!