Line up

We’re thrilled to bring you four days of world-class poetry and spoken word talent with a literature line up you’ve never seen before.

Verve features established as well as up and coming poets, internationally acclaimed talent and undiscovered local artists, writing workshops, spoken word masterclasses, poetry slams, and lively children’s poetry and storytelling events – all under one roof. We promise that these readings, workshops, open mics and one of a kind performances will delight, surprise, shock, move and inspire you.

All events take place across three floors of Waterstones’ beautifully refurbished Birmingham store, right in the city centre.

Thursday
2018-02-15
Festival Main Stage (2nd Floor)
Friday
2018-02-16
Festival Main Stage (2nd Floor)
Saturday
2018-02-17
Workshop Space (6th Floor)
Kids Festival Stage (3rd Floor)
Festival Main Stage (2nd Floor)
Sunday
2018-02-18
Workshop Space (6th Floor)
Kids Festival Stage (3rd Floor)
Festival Main Stage (2nd Floor)
Festival Main Stage (2nd Floor)
Festival Main Stage (2nd Floor)
Workshop Space (6th Floor)
Kids Festival Stage (3rd Floor)
Festival Main Stage (2nd Floor)
Workshop Space (6th Floor)
Kids Festival Stage (3rd Floor)
Festival Main Stage (2nd Floor)
18:30 - 20:00
Poetry Parlour with Imtiaz Dharker

We are delighted to kick off the first night of Verve’s second year with a very special guest. Waterstones’s regular Poetry Parlour event features open mic slots, followed by a reading and Q&A by iconic poet Imtiaz Dharker, who was awarded the Queen’s gold medal for poetry in 2014. “If there were to be a World Laureate, then the role could only be filled by Imtiaz Dharker” – Carol Ann Duffy. £6/4. Book your tickets here. 

The event is sponsored by the University of Birmingham.

 

 

Imtiaz Dharker
20:30 - 22:30
Hit The Ode: Verve Technology Special

Our opening night continues with a Verve edition of a much-loved staple of the Birmingham poetry scene, brought to you by Apples and Snakes. Join Tomomi Adachi, Hannah Silva and Yomi Sode for a special event that explores technology and poetry. There are 8 open mic slots on a first come, first served basis. £6/4. Book your tickets here. 

Brought to you by Apples & Snakes Midlands.

 

Tomomi Adachi
Yomi Sode
Hannah Silva
18:30 - 20:00
Karen McCarthy Woolf, Sasha Dugdale, Mir Mahfuz Ali

We are so pleased to have such a wonderful group of poets to kick off our second night. Karen Mccarthy Woolf’s latest collection from Carcanet – Seasonal Disturbances – was a Poetry Society Recommendation. Sahsa Dugdale’s long poem, ‘Joy’, won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem and is the title poem in her new Carcanet collection. The collection Midnight, Dhaka introduced Mir Mahfuz Ali to the poetry world to great acclaim when it was published by Seren in 2014. £6/4. Book your tickets here. 

Sponsored by Birmingham City University.

 

Karen McCarthy Woolf
Mir Mahfuz Ali
Sasha Dugdale
20:30 - 22:30
Dead or Alive Slam

Two poetic worlds will collide at Dead or Alive Slam at Verve, only the second time this format has ever been done. Witness a battle of words and wit as three of the UK’s leading contemporary slam poets challenge three dead poets in three epic slam rounds, judged by a panel of audience members. Who will be the victor? You decide. £6/4. Book your tickets here. 

09:30 - 10:30
Poetry Breakfast

Join us for a chilled start to the first full day of the festival with the Verve team, with coffee, laid-back readings and a friendly, open discussion on what you can expect from the rest of the festival. Free but limited spaces so book your tickets here.

10:00 - 12:00
Karen McCarthy Woolf Workshop

Forming the Line: In this workshop Karen McCarthy Woolf shares her passion for new forms. Bring a contemporary poem that you love, come and experiment to see what you can create. £20/13.50. Book your tickets here.

Karen McCarthy Woolf
11:00 - 12:00
Wonderful Words Workshop, with Joshua Seigal

Come and listen to Joshua reading some of his fantastically energetic poetry, and then have a go at writing and performing some of your own. Suitable for children aged 7-11. £3. Book your tickets here.

Joshua Seigal
11:00 - 12:30
City Poems

Verve Poetry Festival presents City Poems, featuring six commissioned poems by local poets of note — Roy McFarlane, Bohdan Piasecki, Amerah Saleh, Jenna Clake, Casey Bailey and Ahlaam Moledina — plus the Verve Competition winners. And all hosted by competition judge Luke Kennard. Free but limited seats so book your tickets here.

Sponsored by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce.

 

Bohdan Piasecki
12:30 - 13:15
Joshua Seigal: I Don’t Like Poetry

Joshua Seigal reads some silly, some funny, and some downright hilarious poems from his poetry collection I Don’t Like Poetry, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Laugh Out Loud Awards, and Little Lemur Laughing, his latest collection. If you like poetry, you’ll like this event. And if you don’t like poetry, you’ll LOVE it! For kids 5+. £2. Buy your tickets here.

Joshua Seigal
12:30 - 14:30
Sasha Dugdale Workshop

“The type of guy who would face a firing squad / with a laughing face.” Poets have long been adept at ‘raising monuments not built by hands’ and particularly poignant are the poems written for the ‘little people’, those whose life’s achievement is simply surviving and who are rarely commemorated with monuments or plaques. We’ll look at poems which commemorate the ordinary human being in adversity by David Constantine, Adnan Al-Sayegh, Anna Świrszczyńska and Maria Stepanova and we’ll begin writing poems for the unsung heroes in our worlds. £20/13.50. Buy your tickets here. 

Sasha Dugdale
12:30 - 14:30
Jacob Sam-La Rose Workshop

Jacob Sam-La Rose presents a practical masterclass geared towards supporting artists of all levels in ways of managing their work, building systems and workflows for getting work done, and using available technology to support and extend the work they do — with topics ranging from smart and sensible pointers for managing email to building creative knowledge management systems. £20/13.50. Buy your tickets here.

In association with Apples & Snakes Midlands.

 

Jacob Sam-La Rose
13:00 - 14:00
The Sea-Migrations

Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf reads alongside leading poet Clare Pollard, who shares her brand-new English translations of Asha’s poems. This bilingual reading celebrates the long-standing friendship and collaboration between these two poets, and celebrates their new collection The Sea-Migrations. £6/4. Buy your tickets here.

Brought to you by the Poetry Translation Centre.

 

Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf
Clare Pollard
14:00 - 14:45
Ieva Flamingo & Richard O’Brien: Poems about School

It isn’t easy being a kid, especially in the noisiest class in the school. Would it be better if you could smuggle a cat in? Join Latvian poet Ieva Flamingo and translator Richard O’Brien for this bi-lingual reading of poems from The Noisy Classroom. Suitable for 8+. £2. Buy your tickets here.

Ieva Samauska
Richard O’Brien
14:30 - 15:30
Stablemates presents Offord Road Books

Stablemates presents three cutting-edge poets from new independent publisher Offord Road Books. Featuring Bobby Parker, James Brookes and Melissa Lee-Houghton, whose new pamphlet, Cumshot in D Minor, launched in September 2017. £6/4. Buy your tickets here.

Brought to you by Stablemates.

 

Bobby Parker
Melissa Lee-Houghton
15:00 - 17:00
Poetry Translation Centre Workshop with Clare Pollard and Delaina Haslam

Have a go at collaborative translation and help us to bring contemporary poems to life in English! Poet Clare Pollard and translator Delaina Haslam lead this hands-on workshop on French-language poetry from Africa. All are welcome, and no knowledge of the language is required! £20/13.50. Buy your tickets here.

Brought to you by the Poetry Translation Centre.

Clare Pollard
15:30 - 17:00
Anthony Anaxagorou Masterclass

Writing Place: How do we write poetry about the familiar? Be that your back garden, your local coffee shop or your country of origin? In this master class with poet Anthony Anaxagorou participants will look at ways they can extrapolate important information to build a narrative around place. They will learn how to distill vital hallmarks and convert those very subjective ideas into poems. The workshop invites all ages and abilities and will also include a sharing at the end for those who wish to read their work out. £20/13.50. Buy tickets here. 

Anthony Anaxagorou
16:00 - 17:30
The Poetry Assembly with Jane Commane

In celebration of the publication of her Bloodaxe poetry collection Assembly Lines, Jane Commane hosts an afternoon of poetry from some of her favourite midlands-based poets with new poetry publications also hot off the press. Featuring readings by Roz Goddard, Liz Berry, Romalyn Ante and Matt Black as well as Jane, toast the arrival of these new books and pamphlets and join in the celebrations with music, cake and the sharing of a fine selection of new poetry. £6/4. Buy tickets here. 

Jane Commane
Roz Goddard
Liz Berry
Romalyn Ante
Matt Black
18:00 - 19:30
Pascale Petit, Hannah Lowe, Sandeep Parmar

Our Saturday poetry headline features three award-winning poets at the top of their game. Sandeep Parmar’s Eidolon won the inaugural Ledbury Forte prize for best second collection. Hannah Lowe is a Next Generation poet and her most recent collection, Chan was published by Bloodaxe in 2016. Four times T.S. Eliot Prize shortlisted Pascale Petit reads from Mama Amazonica, her seventh collection, which is a Poetry Book Society Choice. £6/4. Buy tickets here. 

Sponsored by Shopping in Birmingham.

 

Pascale Petit
Hannah Lowe
Sandeep Parmar
20:00 - 22:00
Out-Spoken Press Showcase

After an exhilarating showcase at Verve 2017 and sell-out events at festivals across the UK, Out-Spoken Press is back with their full house of poets sure to challenge, thrill and move you: Anthony Anaxagorou, Raymond Antrobus, Joelle Taylor, Sabrina Mahfouz, Bridget Minamore, Hibaq Osman and Fran Lock. Come watch poetry titans perform. £6/4. Buy tickets here. 

Anthony Anaxagorou
Raymond Antrobus
Joelle Taylor
Sabrina Mahfouz
Bridget Minamore
Hibaq Osman
Fran Lock
09:30 - 10:30
Brum Stanza Showcase

Brum Stanza, Waterstone’s popular Poetry Society Stanza group, is open to all and attracts experienced and emerging poets from around the region. Join us for a leisurely start to Sunday and hear Stanza members read excellent, surprising poetry. Book your free tickets here. 

Brought to you by Brum Stanza.

 

10:00 - 12:00
Pascale Petit Workshop

Writing the Dangerous and Wild: The imagination is a realm where wildness can thrive. In Mama Amazonica, Pascale superimposed her mother’s madness onto the luxuriance of the Amazon rainforest, both in precarious balance. You will be encouraged to write poems celebrating the beauty and danger of the wild, whether it’s in human nature or the natural world. £20/13.50. Buy tickets here. 

Pascale Petit
10:30 - 12:00
Sabrina Mahfouz Masterclass

Creating poetry characters from real life experiences: In this workshop, Sabrina Mahfouz facilitates exercises around writing from the perspectives of fictional characters who are inspired by real people. The group will discuss the problems and opportunities that come with this approach and create a short piece of work which they will be able to share for feedback if they wish. £20/13.50. Buy tickets here. 

Sabrina Mahfouz
11:00 - 12:00
Workshop: Write an Animal Poem, with Carole Bromley

Write a poem about an animal – anything from a bug to a hippopotamus, from what you might find in a zoo to the creatures in your garden. You choose. Poet Carole Bromley will use her own animal poems to show you how. Just bring pencil and paper and lots of enthusiasm! Suitable for children aged 7+. £3. Buy tickets here. 

Carol Bromley
11:00 - 12:00
Mad & Glow with Jacqueline Saphra and Tania Hershman

Mad & Glow are Jacqueline Saphra and Tania Hershman, but they refuse to tell who is who. However, they do promise to entertain you with brazen stories in poem and prose from each and both; a confederacy of words from a world that contains mad mothers and glowing jellyfish, kisses and war, salt, light and a few waterlilies. £6/4. Buy tickets here. 

Jacqueline Saphra
Tania Hershman
12:30 - 14:30
Nuar Alsadir Workshop

A Non-Poetry Workshop: For this workshop, please bring in work that somehow exists in the space outside of what might be conventionally thought of as a poem. We will discuss ways of figuring out what the piece of writing wants to be, and then discuss how to follow and honor that internal logic in the revision process.£20/13.50. Buy tickets here. 

 

Nuar Alsadir
12:30 - 02:30
Salena Godden, Matt Abbott, Maria Ferguson, Jamie Thrasivoulou

Don’t miss this tour de force event that blends poetry, performance and theatre. Salena Godden, one of the UK’s most iconic poets, is joined by Matt Abbott (founder of spoken word record label Nymphs & Thugs) and celebrated poets Maria Ferguson and Jamie Thrasivoulou. £6/4. Buy tickets here. 

Brought to you by Nymphs and Thugs.

Salena Godden
Matt Abbott
Maria Ferguson
Jamie Thrasivoulou
12:30 - 13:15
Carole Bromley: Blast Off!

3… 2… 1… Poetry! Hold on tight as Yorkshire poet Carole Bromley reads from her new book Blast Off!, with poems about space, fairytales, zoos and angels. Suitable for children aged 5+. £2. Buy tickets here. 

Carol Bromley
14:00 - 14:45
Little Tyke Open Mic

It’s your time to shine! Poets aged 6-16 years are invited to bring a poem (written by themselves or by someone else) to read at this special open mic event, hosted by publisher Emma Wright. The sign-up sheet will be open 30 minutes before the event starts, so come and add your name if you’re feeling brave. Suitable for children aged 6+. £2. Buy tickets here.

15:00 - 16:00
Poetry of the natural world with Meryl Pugh and Elizabeth-Jane Burnett

What good is nature writing in a world threatened by extreme climate change? Can poetry be environmental activism? Two exciting new poets read from and discuss their relationship to landscape and the natural world: Meryl Pugh’s Natural Phenomena uncovers the surprising flora and fauna of urban spaces, while Elizabeth-Jane Burnett’s Swims is a powerful, lyrical celebration of wild swimming. £6/4. Buy tickets here

In association with Penned in the Margins.

 

Meryl Pugh
Elizabeth-Jane Burnett
15:30 - 17:00
Liz Berry Workshop

Try A Little Tenderness: Join poet Liz Berry for a workshop exploring how allowing tenderness into your poems can make them soar. We’ll read wonderful poems from Thomas Hardy to Andrew Macmillan, discuss the many ways we can be tender in our work without being sentimental, and share writing activities to help sow the seeds of new poems. Suitable for poets of all stages. £20/13.50 Buy tickets here

 

Liz Berry
15:30 - 17:30
Nymphs and Thugs Masterclass with Salena Godden and Matt Abbott

There’s nothing quite like a ranty, sweary poem to get things off your chest. Far from anthologies or radio recitals, this is the vital, visceral poetry that grabs the world by the scruff of the neck. Join iconic punk poet Salena Godden along with Nymphs & Thugs founder and activist Matt Abbott, as they deliver a workshop that’ll help you channel your inner street poet. Poets of all abilities and experiences are welcome. £20/13.50. Buy tickets here

Salena Godden
Matt Abbott
16:30 - 17:30
The stand-up poetry reunion with Luke Wright and Ross Sutherland

18 years after forming poetry boyband Aisle 16 as students at the University of East Anglia, multi-award-winning poets and theatre-makers Luke Wright and Ross Sutherland ‘reform’ for a one-off performance of new work. Expect hilarious ‘stand-up poetry’ along with surreal, incisive verse from two of Britain’s sharpest poets. £6/4. Buy tickets here.

In association with Penned in the Margins.

Ross Sutherland
Luke Wright
18:00 - 19:30
Liz Berry, Nick Makoha, Nuar Alsadir

The festival finale features three mesmerising and singular poets. Birmingham local Liz Berry’s Black Country won the Best First Collection Prize in 2014. Nick Makoha’s Kingdom of Gravity was shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize 2017 and Nuar Alsadir’s collection Fourth Person Singular was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2017. This is sure to be an unmissable reading. £6/4. Buy your tickets here.

Sponsored by Wolverhampton University.

 

Liz Berry
Nick Makoha
Nuar Alsadir
20:00 - 22:30
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