Dominic Berry wins Saboteur award for best spoken word performer

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Dominic Berry has won this year’s Saboteur award for best spoken word performer, it was announced on Saturday night at the awards evening in London. Manchester-based Dominic, who pipped Hollie McNish, is touring two shows, his adult verse ‘No Tigers’, and a family retelling of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’, and is currently in New Zealand. His award was accepted on his behalf by Kieren King, of Salford’s spoken word night Evidently, although Dominic sent a message saying that he “thanked everyone from the bottom of my heart and the heart of my bottom”.

Kieren paid tribute to Dominic’s track record, including the fact that he had appeared naked on Channel 4. His most recent poetry collection, No Tigers, is published by Flapjack Press, which  describes him as “firmly established as Manchester's premier Queer Vegan Poet … renowned for his eloquent yet uncompromising stage shows and a desire to confront inequality”.

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It was another vibrant night at the Saboteur awards, run by the untiring and excellent Sabotage Reviews, and held at the quirky and intimate Vout-O-Reenee’s near Tower Bridge. Best spoken word night was won by Edinburgh’s Interrobang?!, a new storytelling, poetry and live music night that’s “only been running six months!” said Beth Cochrane, pictured right, as she accepted the award.  

It was a night of eye-catching frocks, as you might expect at an awards evening, plus a chap in a onesie panda suit, which you might not.

It was also a night with a strong Irish flavour. The final award of the evening, for best collaborative work, went to WomenXBorders, in recognition of a day in March earlier this year, when Women Aloud NI, an organisation working to raise the profile of the women’s writing scene in Northern Ireland, and the Irish Writers Centre met for a day in Dublin for a programme that included a day-long readathon, a mass reading of writers reading simultaneously, and panel discussions. Earlier Women Aloud NI had taken the Saboteur award for Best Wild Card, which was sponsored by Dylan Day and presented by Mab Jones, and Freya McClements, a writer and journalist with the Irish Times, was voted Best Reviewer of the Year.

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Best spoken word show went to Maria Ferguson’s Fat Girls Don’t Dance, pictured right, while best poetry pamphlet collection of the year went to Elisabeth Sennitt Clough for Glass, published by Paper Swans Press. The best anthology was named as Remembering Oluwale, poems about the case of David Oluwale, a British Nigerian who drowned in the river Aire in Leeds in 1969, and was a homeless man who suffered harassment by the police, among others. The anthology was edited by SJ Bradley and published by Scarborough’s Valley Press.  

The most innovative publisher award went to Ronnie Goodyer and Dawn Bauling of Indigo Dreams, a couple who work deep in the forest, near the border of Devon and Cornwall, producing a wealth of poetry pamphlets and full collections each year, and three poetry magazines. Magazine of the year was won by Dublin-based Into The Void, described by one of their advocates as “a venue for stunning art, edgy fiction, and scrumptious poetry”.

Close to 4,300 people voted for the winners and others on the shortlists. The seventh Saboteur awards, masterminded as ever by Sabotage’s founder Clare Trevien, was compered by Lucy Ayrton, and left all winners clutching bottles provided by the evening’s sponsor Sacred Gin.

You can find all the results here

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