Our story

Introducing Verve

An idea floated on Twitter in early 2016 – isn’t it high time Birmingham had its own poetry festival? – led to a handful of people mad enough to make it happen. The rest is history.

What to expect

With so many brilliant poetry festivals around the country, we were fiercely committed to making Verve look, sound and feel different right from the start.

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.

This isn’t your typical literary festival. Instead of bringing audiences to a theatre, we’re bringing the theatre to our audiences. Over four whirlwind days, you can experience:

  • Roof-shaking spoken word sets
  • Readings and workshops by award-winning poets
  • Boundary-pushing poetry/theatre performances
  • Lively children’s events
  • and much, much more!

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 bookish nerd or have children that can’t get enough of reading, Verve welcomes you.

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.