Our publisher of the month for August is Sidekick Books! Based in London, the team consists of Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving. As well as running Sidekick, Kirsten works as a library assistant, copywriter and voiceover artist, while Jon is finishing a PhD in poetry-game hybrids. Kirsten's hobbies include crows, robots and Jeff Goldblum whilst Jon's major occupation is digging himself out of an avalanche of books, toys and half-finished follies.
Sidekick Books is run by Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving, two poet-editors based in London. We share tasks out fairly equally, although Kirsten tends to do more of the editing and Jon more of the design and layout. As well as running Sidekick, Kirsten works as a library assistant, copywriter and voiceover artist, while Jon is finishing a PhD in poetry-game hybrids. K's obsessions include crows, robots and Jeff Goldblum. Jon's major occupation is digging himself out of an avalanche of books, toys and half-finished follies.
Sidekick Books focuses on multi-author anthologies, treasuries and pamphlets, augmented with visual elements. We like mutating the poetry book into new forms, by, for example, mixing poems with essays, or publishing poetry comics. At the moment, we're concentrating on our Headbooks series, which blend together interactive pages with concrete poetry and other experimental forms in a pocket-guide style format. We issue open calls for proposals and submissions on the theme of each book, publishing two a year. The first two were Aquanauts (on the theme of underwater life and exploration) and Bad Kid Catullus (translating and remixing Catullus in every way imaginable). Our previous titles include Coin Opera II, a lavish compendium of poetry experimenting with the tropes and forms of video games, and the Birdbook anthologies, a four-book series gathering together one poem and one illustration for every species of British bird.
- What kind of books do you publish?
We love coming up with the ideas and structure for a themed book - whether that's robots, bats or Japanese demons - and seeing it take shape as we pull together the work of varied writers and artists. Sidekick is a reflection of our combined personalities - mischievous, curious, a little feral - and an expression of our own joint creative priorities, which lean toward collaboration and subversion, so we like working alongside one another, and working cooperatively/bonding with other small presses. Learning secret skills and techniques is also an ongoing bonus - there's always something new to get your head round.
- What do you enjoy the most about publishing?
Our fictional boss, the capricious alchemist Dr Fulminare (that's 'fuhl-muh-nar-ee') has a scrappy familiar called Bandijcat, who also appears in the Sidekick logo. Don't cross him! In the real world, at Sidekick HQ we have a gregarious catmate called Eloise.
- Have you got any office dogs/cats/animals?
K has three equidistant from her in East Dulwich: Rye Books (good all-round selection and friendly dog), Chener Books (the poet Miranda Peake works there, and gives great book advice) and Review Bookshop (great for gifts and short story collections). Jon has the Walthamstow Waterstones, which is often his first and last port of call for friends' birthday presents.
- Where is your nearest bookshop?
K would meet Frank O'Hara - he'd be a hoot. Jon would like to hang out with Leonard Cohen and try to convince him to collaborate on a project.
- If you could meet one author or poet, dead or alive, who would you choose and why?
Highlights from Sidekick include:
Aquanauts / £10.00
Aquanauts is a multi-tentacled, technicolour haul from the underwater realms, advancing from the rich broth of garden ponds to the immutable dark of the deep sea. It's your very own unreliable handbook to sharks and skates, subs and spookfish, vile jellies and sorrowful shipwrecks, with pages to record your own facts, findings, ideas and journal entries. Keep it with you, fill it up, and pass it on, or stow it way for later enthralment.
Bad Kid Catullus / £10.00
Gaius Valerius Catullus was Ancient Rome’s most notorious scandal-monger, filthsmith and lovelorn wretch. In this interactive handbook, his famously sexy, savage, tender and scurrilous poems have been transformed and mutated in myriad ways: compressed, expanded, bricolaged, Catullus in six pulp genres, Catullus as playlist – even a Catullus karma sutra. And then there are pages for you, the reader, to fill in, in your own obscene fashion.
You’ll never look at a sparrow the same way again.