Saboteur Awards 2023



We’d love to have your vote(s)…


Sabotage Reviews just announced it’s that time of the year again: the Saboteur Awards! In the world of independent creatives, this is a rare opportunity to celebrate the people, communities, brands and categories that bigger literary prizes are likely to overlook. Winners are decided by public vote, which is arguably both democratic and empowering. This post is just HCE’s way of encouraging you to vote in every category that interests you…

…and also give you a nudge-reminder that we/projects we’re involved in are eligible to be voted for in FOUR of the categories:



Keen to get voting? Please read our recommendations below and visit the Saboteur Awards form here.



We were shortlisted last year but didn’t win. With your help again in 2023, it could happen! We think Fire & Dust deserves it…



We were very proud to have our Fire & Dust poetry nights shortlisted in the 2021 and 2022 Sab Awards. Amazingly, F&D managed (thanks to Zoom) not to skip a single gig during the pandemic. We were determined not to let our local poetry community down, and it was vital, in those early anxiety-ridden days of isolation, to offer people a semblance of normality and routine. Jumping into the technical side of hosting the open mic online involved a lot of work but we managed it (thanks to guidance). Two heads are better than one – and, likewise, two pairs of typing hands – and it wasn’t long before HCE’s Raef was joined behind the scenes by F&D regular Ann Atkins, who has been an excellent co-host (both on Zoom and in-person).

Over the months, the Zoom rooms started to get very busy – we had expanded, not only beyond Coventry and the West Midlands, but all across the globe! Many of our core regulars – poets and audience – were joining us from outside the UK. It was exciting to see all these new faces and experience poetry performances from every continent; it was lovely to catch up in the break and afterwards with new friends from places we’d never even visited. Everyone’s situation was different; we learnt more about other cultures and were there to support each other through all the coronavirus chaos.

Post-lockdown life, we are back to running an in-person gig every first Thursday of the month, and now also host a Zoom gig every second Thursday. Of course we’re not going to snatch away the accessibility of online events from poets who need them, and likewise we’re keen to provide for those who appreciate and crave the social side of gatherings (as well as the people still suffering screen fatigue thanks to team meetings at work, etc.). We would love to go hybrid but don’t have the funding or technical know-how so, for now, this double dose of Fire & Dust each month seems like the best solution. It was important to Raef and Ann to choose a new night for the virtual gigs that wouldn’t clash with any other established poetry gigs in their network. Fire & Dust prides itself on putting community first, to the best of our ability.

Another challenge faced by Fire & Dust after lockdowns was when The Big Comfy Bookshop, our venue since 2014, sadly closed its doors forever. With only a couple of months’ notice to find a new venue, in the midst of adapting to ever-changing COVID safety rules, Ann and Raef were fortunate to secure venue Cafe Morso, a Coventry city centre bar/restaurant. Seventeen months and thirty-six gigs later (including Skylines Festival and international poet exchanges with Cork and Dresden!), things seem to be going well. The spacious venue and change in location have led to a multitude of new poets and audience discovering Fire & Dust. In summary: it would be brilliant to celebrate the survival and on-going expansion of this spoken word event with a Saboteur Award!



Where would the Here Comes Everyone website be without Stella’s stellar poetry book reviews? For several years now, writer Stella Backhouse has kindly been penning reflective, common sense reviews on collections and pamphlets released by small press publishers  – and her prolific output for HCE has been much appreciated! These reviews enable us to help promote indie poetry books that otherwise might not be on people’s radars, as well as sometimes offering a fresh take on acclaimed titles. Often, it will be new releases that require an extra moment in the spotlight; other times, Stella has given a boost to collections that were released a few years back (in particular, ‘COVID orphan’ books that missed out on book launch hype in 2020/2021) and deserve another boost into the public sphere.

Recent examples of Stella’s work can be found in this archive of her reviews, or you can check out a few specifics below:

Panic Response – John McCullough

Please Do Not Touch – Casey Bailey

Brightwork – Susannah V Evans

This is Not Therapy – Tina Sederholm



Last year’s Skylines was a brand new spoken word/poetry festival, brought to Coventry by Writing West Midlands and Nine Arches Press across June and July 2022. Most of the events took place at the Belgrade Theatre and online, while Fire&Dust hosted a one-off special open mic across the road at Cafe Morso – featuring a headline set by Mark Grist. The main website is currently down but, for a reminder of the brilliant array of events, check out this outline of the programme.



Our choice for this category is probably pretty obvious, huh?


Here’s that link to the Saboteur Awards form again, just to save you scrolling all the way up. We’re thoughtful like that…