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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

Big Fish, Little Fish, Shaped Like Box…

We’re gearing up to launch Aquanauts in immersive, submersive style in London on 22 September (click here to book your free place). To celebrate, we thought we’d share one or two of the tiddler poems that were too shy to go into the book. Introducing a swoosh of Cubist Collage Fish, alongside their real-world counterparts. We deliberately chose fish which change colour, to emphasise the shape-shifting aspect of the form:
Betta splendens – the Siamese Fighting Fish
Real Siamese fighting fish
Chameleon fish
Real chameleon fish
Rock goby
Real rock goby

Aquanautica! An immersive, interactive book launch!

We’re nearly ready to smash the champagne bottle on SS Aquanauts!


To launch this anthology of aquatic adventure, join Sidekick Books and artist Abi Palmer for Aquanautica, an immersive live art voyage!

Let us tickle your senses with our poetic tentacles, using light, sound, touch, 1:1 performances and a grand reading. Leave your mark with interactive games and frolic in the fronds.

The event is FREE but booking is essential as places are limited to aid accessibility and make the experience enjoyable for all.

You can book here:

Once you have booked, you will receive details of how to get to the Mystery London Venue. At the booking stage, you can also tell us about any accessibility requirements you might have. Here is a more detailed breakdown:


The event takes place at an accessible indoor location between 7-10.30 pm on Friday 22nd September. There will be fleeting performances in multiple spaces, and you are welcome to come and go as you please, with latecomers welcome.

The event is in a child-friendly, low-crowd, wheelchair-accessible space. For more detailed accessibility information, please see below.


Nearest tubes:

Bermondsey (Jubilee Line, level access): approx 8 minutes away

London Bridge: 12-18 minutes away, level access on all lines.


Friday’s launch event will be a multisensory experience, in varying light conditions. If you have a particular lighting need, please mention this on your booking form.

An even lower-crowd multisensory, audio described tour of the exhibit can be arranged on Saturday 23rd September. Please contact to book this.

Due to staffing and crowd limitations, we cannot promise a 100% audio-described tour on Friday 22nd September, but the event will contain multisensory performances and 1:1 interactions. On request, these can be adapted to provide as much audio description as possible!


Doors, rooms and corridors inside the venue are all extra wide, and have turning space for wheelchairs. There are automatic doors on all entrances.

The space is on the 3rd floor with access via wide lifts.


The bathroom is level and wide enough for a chair to enter. There is a perching stool by the sink. There is no hoist.


The venue will include a relaxation area in a carpeted room, with varied, comfortable seating and places to lie down. Headphones and ear plugs are available if you want to vary the noise conditions Tickets will be limited to minimise crowding.

Fiddle props and multisensory activities will be provided.


Due to the size and acoustics of the venue, performances will not use microphones. The relaxation room is carpeted but the main performance space will not be.

Background music will be used. If you would prefer to limit additional noise, please include this request on the form.

This multisensory event will include text, touch, movement and visual installations. We aim to provide written transcripts wherever possible. Due to space and budget restrictions, we cannot provide full BSL performance at this stage, but we are working towards this for future events!


A wide variety of chairs, sofas, rugs, mats, reclining spaces and cushions are available. Please shout if you have a special request.


Custom sea-cocktails (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) will be available for a small donation. There will also be a range of other drinks and a wide variety of teas.


You will be able to purchase Aquanauts at the event using cash, card or PayPal. Alternatively, you can find more about it here.

Dive in!

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.


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