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January 2018

Announcing the Verve Poetry Competition 2018 winners!

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We are delighted to announce the winners poets of the 2018 Verve Poetry Competition, as judged by celebrated poet Luke Kennard. Congratulations to all our winners and a huge thank you to everyone around the world that entered the Verve Poetry Competition this year!

First Prize (£500)
Consuelo Marshall – ‘Myself as Playboy Bunny’

Second Prize (£250)
Jacqueline Saphra – ‘Shoreditch’

Third Prize (worth £100)
Claire Trévien – ‘Brain as a City’

Judge’s statement:

“I think I’ve read for around ten poetry competitions over the years, but this is the first time I’ve judged something with a specific theme, and that made it quite a different experience. It was more like reading a vast, 600 page anthology, grappling with ideas of the city, experiences within it, personal histories both in celebration and lamentation. The poems had all the noise and stimulation of the city, and it was a privilege to be let in to these thoughts and stories, especially the more idiosyncratic. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the topic there was an unusually refined grasp of sensory detail, of the local as the universal, of one’s story honestly told being an act of intellectual generosity. On the first read through you’re really just absorbing everything, allowing the poems to work on you in whatever way the author intended or didn’t, gratefully receiving new perspectives and insights from an exciting range of voices. The more painful part comes when you have to start selecting, forming piles of Yes and Maybe, leaving some behind and taking others to the next round. You start to wonder who exactly you are to be entrusted with such a task. An attentive reader, I suppose, and I suppose that’s enough. I’m delighted with the winning and commended poems, as difficult as it was to choose so few from a field crowded with talent. Each time I return to them I find something else to admire; am struck again by the freshness and persuasion of the tone; the sense of an imagination as alive, as crowded, as joyful or poignant as the cities they conceive.”

Our City Poems event on Saturday morning has SOLD OUT but you can still buy tickets for other fantastic readings at the Festival here.



Nymphs and Thugs at Verve 2018 #3

Nymphs & Thugs at Verve 2018: Salena Godden, Matt Abbot, Maria Ferguson and Jamie Thrasivoulou

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Sunday sees Nymphs & Thugs visit Verve with some friends. They present Salena Godden, Matt Abbott, Maria Ferguson and Jamie Thrasivoulou; four vital performers all rattling with the sense of urgency that makes the UK spoken word scene so exciting at present.

Thunderbird’s Red on piers. 1987. UK Garage. Train yards. Silicon smiles. Bombastic chasms of self-destruction. Foot-soldiers and witnesses. Fair-weather friends of sin. Flat caps, camel coats and dogs. Cigarette burns on desolate benches. Oranjeboom 8.5. Hot water bottle life rafts. Mushroom cloud worshippers. The years of the suns and the moons.

For poets which talk about such a diverse range of things, their style and execution never seem to waver. These are writers which wrap their words around you like tendrils, stirring that sense of nostalgia and passion which has always attracted me to spoken word. I can safely say that, for me, this is one of the most exciting events at Verve this year.

But enough hype and sub-standard bodging of their words into a blog, here is a selection of some favourites. I am going to put a link to tickets for the event here, so you don’t frantically break your mouse / injure yourself whilst trying to find one, after watching the videos. Enjoy, reflect, stay safe.

‘Where Everyone Knew the Krays’ – Maria Ferguson 

‘Under the Pier’ – Salena Godden

‘The Best of a Bad Situation’ (A Sound Collage of Four Poems)  – Jamie Thrasivoulou

‘Roy of the Rovers’ – Matt Abbott