About Verve

Find out more about our story, our aims and our team

About Verve

Find out more about our story, our aims and our team

The Verve Story

From an idea floated on Twitter to a whirlwind force in the poetry world, Verve Poetry Festival (and our sister press) are proud to be a home for brilliant poets and lovers. The four day festival in Birmingham city centre, now getting ready for year four, welcomes award-winning poets from the Midlands, the UK and the world.

What to expect

With so many brilliant poetry festivals around the country, Verve is a little different to what you’d expect from a literature festival.

Verve is a four day festival hosted at the Birmingham Hippodrome’s Patrick Studio, in the heart of the city centre, 5 minutes walk from the shiny New Street Station. We’ve programmed the very best contemporary poetry all in one building.

Hear award-winning poets and local legends sharing the same stage. Attend workshops open to all levels. Experience genre-defying performances. Bring the house down at a spoken word and music gig. Brave an open mic. Meet your favourite poets and discover new ones. It’s the friendly, down to earth, cosmopolitan and deliciously bold festival you’ve heard everyone talking about.

Most importantly, we want Verve to be a festival that everyone can 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; Verve welcomes you.

We’re launching our festival programme in Autumn 2019. Keep your eyes peeled for hints, sneak peeks, giveaways and more by staying in touch through all the usual channels:

Facebook /VervePoetryFestival

Twitter @VervePoetryFest

Instagram /Verve.Poetry.Festival

Sign up to our Newsletter

Verve 2017

Find out more about our inaugural event

Verve Poetry Press

Learn about our sister press

Verve 2018

View the gallery from 2018

Verve 2019

View the gallery from 2019

Verve Specials

Find out more about our one-off events

The Team

Stuart Bartholomew

Stuart Bartholomew

Co-director & Programming Director

Stuart Bartholomew manages a large Waterstones in Birmingham. As well as being involved in Verve Festival, he is also the co-founder and publisher of sister press Verve Poetry Press. His programming and publishing vision is to celebrate the full breadth of quality poetic activity in the UK and beyond – whatever the style or source – in colourful and exciting ways.

Lizzie Palmer

Lizzie Palmer

Assistant Producer

Lizzie Palmer is a festival producer, administrator,  community researcher & bookseller. She’s still trying to live up to the success of receiving a Blue Peter badge for a poem she wrote when she was 9. Lizzie joins the team this year after working on a successful community arts festival and hopes to build on the team’s, already fantastic, work to grow the festival.

Nellie Cole

Nellie Cole

Festival Operations Manager

Nellie Cole is a poet, workshop coordinator, and mentor. Her debut pamphlet, Bella (Offa’s Press, 2018) was shortlisted for a Saboteur Award in 2019. During Verve 2019, she will be working ‘backstage’ to keep the festival flowing.
Alex Ashford

Alex Ashford

Venue Operations Manager

Alex Ashford is a Birmingham based bookshop manager and heritage professional. He has a special interest in poetry and writing about Birmingham’s history and its amazing green spaces.

Kibriya Mehrban

Kibriya Mehrban

Marketing Assistant

Kibriya Mehrban is a recent Creative Writing graduate from the University of Birmingham. She got excited about Verve when the first crowdfunding call-outs appeared in 2016 and has been an avid supporter ever since. Her poems have appeared in the Emma Press anthologies This is Not Your Final Form (2017) and Second Place Rosette (2018).

Rick Sanders

Rick Sanders

Lead Volunteer

Rick Sanders, aka Willis the Poet, is a comedy stand-up poet based in the mighty West Midlands. He has appeared at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Lakefest, and Apples & Snake’s Bright Smoke event with the RSC in Stratford. Rick lends us an enormously experienced hand by volunteering with us at the festival.

Sponsors and Partners

Verve couldn’t happen without the generous support of:

Lead Sponsor