Our story

Introducing Verve

An idea floated about on Twitter in early 2016. It was scary. Dangerous almost. There were rumors of it breaking twitter algorithm through sheer strength of meter; there was gossip about it’s potential to conjure the spirit of rhyme; there was talk that it was all government conspiracy; some say a folk tale was born of its origins.

The idea:  isn’t it high time Birmingham had its own poetry festival.

The result: Verve: A Birmingham festival of Poetry & Spoken Word

What to expect

With so many brilliant poetry festivals around the country, we were fiercely committed to making Verve pop, wiggle and wham! 

We set out to capture and celebrate the spirit of Birmingham and its creative, plucky, open-minded, fun, down to earth, industrious, collaborative, cosmopolitan nature.

Most importantly, we want Verve to be a festival that everyone could enjoy. Whether you’ve been writing for years or are just starting out; whether you’ve attended every festival on the circuit or this is your first; whether you’re more slam poetry than sestina; whether you’re a book-geek or have children that can’t get enough of reading, Verve welcomes you.

We are launching our 2019 festival programme in Autumn 2018, but have a few little poetry nuggets to warm you through the winter. If you think its gunna be really cold, stay in touch through all the usual channels:

Facebook /VervePoetryFestival

Twitter @VervePoetryFest

Instagram /Verve.Poetry.Festival


Sponsors and Partners

Verve couldn’t happen without the generous support of:

Lead Sponsor



Supporting partners

The team

Stuart Bartholomew

Stuart Bartholomew


Stuart is General Manager of Waterstones in Birmingham, and a founding member of Birmingham’s new Poetry Society Stanza group. He was on the judging panel for Birmingham Laureate 2016. Sometimes he writes poetry.

Cynthia Miller

Cynthia Miller

Co-Director/Marketing Lead

Cynthia has a background in advertising and branding. She currently works as a Lead Strategist for creative brand agency ORB and writes poetry whenever she can. She will be published in Primers Volume 2 from Nine Arches Press in April 2017.

Emma Wright

Emma Wright

Children's programmer

Emma Wright runs the Emma Press, a small independent poetry publisher which relocated to the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham last year. The Emma Press publishes poetry books for adults and children, all printed on beautiful paper and often illustrated. (photo: Marcos Avlonitis)

Nellie Cole

Nellie Cole


Nellie is a local poet, whose work has appeared online (Poets’ Corner, 2015-6), in print (The Emma Press, 2017), and on display (The Pen Museum, 2017). She aspires to work in event planning and management in heritage or the arts, as well as continuing her studies and her writing.

Alex Ashford

Alex Ashford

Team member

Alex Ashford is a Birmingham based book shop manager, photographer and proud Brummie. He has a special interest in poetry and writing about Birmingham's history and its amazing green spaces.