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
2017-02-16
Second Floor
First Floor Bar Stage
Friday
2017-02-17
Second Floor
First Floor Bar Stage
Saturday
2017-02-18
Third Floor Kids Festival Stage
Sixth Floor
Second Floor
Podium Space, Second Floor
First Floor Bar Stage
Sunday
2017-02-19
Third Floor Kids Festival Stage
Sixth Floor
Second Floor
Podium Space, Second Floor
First Floor Bar Stage
Second Floor
First Floor Bar Stage
Second Floor
First Floor Bar Stage
Third Floor Kids Festival Stage
Sixth Floor
Second Floor
Podium Space, Second Floor
First Floor Bar Stage
Third Floor Kids Festival Stage
Sixth Floor
Second Floor
Podium Space, Second Floor
First Floor Bar Stage
19:00 - 21:00
Poetry Parlour with Daljit Nagra

The first night of the festival kicks off with Waterstones Birmingham’s established Poetry Parlour event. Join our regular hosts Jane Commane of Nine Arches Press and Emma Wright of The Emma Press for an open mic with fantastic local poets followed by a Q&A and reading with Daljit Nagra, our special guest poet. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

 

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Daljit Nagra
21:00 - 23:00
Hit the Ode Verve Special ft. Dizzylez

Our opening night continues with a Verve edition of a regular Birmingham city centre poetry night which is hosted and programmed, as always, by Bohdan Piasecki. There are 8 open mic slots, pre-bookable on a first come, first serve basis. This much-loved event is brought to you by Apples and Snakes and features Dizzylez, acclaimed French poet, rapper and musician, with other special guests Soweto Kinch and Jemima Foxtrot. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

19:00 - 21:00
Kim Moore, Mona Arshi and Katrina Naomi

We are delighted to have three multi award-winning poets kick off the second night. Kim Moore won The Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition and her first full-length collection The Art of Falling was published by Seren in 2015. Katrina Naomi’s vivid second collection, The Way the Crocodile Taught Me, was published by Seren in 2015. Mona Arshi has won the Magma Poetry Prize and reads from her debut collection Small Hands, which won the 2015 Forward Prize for Best First Collection. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

 

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Katrina Naomi
Kim Moore
Mona Arshi
21:00 - 23:00
Dice Slam with Apples and Snakes

Is it a poetry competition? Is it absurdist comedy? No, it’s the Dice Slam, a one-of-a-kind show bringing together a collection of spoken word artists hand-picked from around Great Britain and an utterly absurd set of rules. Not to be missed! Hosted by Birmingham’s own Amerah Saleh, the Dice Slam is brought to you in partnership with Apples and Snakes, England’s leading organisation for performance poetry. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

Amerah Saleh
09:30 - 10:30
Poetry Breakfast with Roz Goddard and Cynthia Miller

Join the Verve team for a chilled start to the festival, with coffee, pastries, laid-back readings and a friendly introduction to what you can expect from the weekend. Book free tickets now.

10:30 - 11:30
Children’s Poetry Writing Workshop: Write a Poem about Space and Aliens

Come and write a poem about astronauts or life on other planets! Local publisher Emma Wright and poet Rachel Piercey will run this poem-writing session themed around space and aliens, providing prompts and feedback. Suitable for children aged 7+. Book free tickets now.

Rachel Piercey
11:00 - 13:00
Birmingham Anthology Launch

Join us for the exciting launch of our Birmingham Anthology, featuring the winning poems from our Birmingham themed poetry competition, as judged by Hannah Silva. The anthology is being published by much-loved local publisher, The Emma Press. Come and hear excellent poems about the people and places that make Birmingham and help us celebrate our city in verse! Book free tickets now.

 

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11:00 - 13:00
Katrina Naomi Workshop: “Saying the Unsayable”

Join Katrina Naomi for a 2 hour workshop that features risk and revelation with great poems from Sharon Olds to Dorothy Parker to Yusef Komunyakaa. It’s the kind of workshop that will stretch you if you’ve been writing for a while and is also accessible for newer poets. Limited to 15 places. Limited to 15 places. £15/£10. Buy tickets now.

Katrina Naomi
12:00 - 12:45
Little Tyke Open Mic

Time for all the budding Byrons and developing Duffys to get their moment in the spotlight! 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 Emma Wright and Rachel Piercey from The Emma Press. 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+. Book free tickets now.

Rachel Piercey
13:00 - 15:00
Kim Moore Workshop: “Illuminated Moments”

All of us carry moments of experience which stay with us for the rest of our lives. How do we write about these moments without slipping into sentimentality or melodrama? During this workshop we will be looking at different techniques for using our own lives, and our remembered moments, as material. Limited to 15 places. £15/£10. Buy tickets now.

Kim Moore
13:00 - 15:00
Out-Spoken Press Masterclass: Anthony Anaxagorou and Sabrina Mahfouz

Join award-winning writers and performers Anthony Anaxagorou and Sabrina Mahfouz for two unique workshops. The writing workshop will explore how to delve more creatively into your imagination and to write heartfelt poetry with literary technique. The performance workshop will look at different ways to share your poetry with an audience and how to feel calm and confident to do so. Limited to 30 places. £15/£10. Buy tickets now.

Anthony Anaxagorou
Sabrina Mahfouz
13:15 - 14:00
Kate Wakeling: Moon Juice

Join Kate Wakeling as she reads poems from her new poetry book for children, Moon Juice. Meet Skig, who’s meant to be a warrior (but is really more of a worrier). Meet a giddy comet, which skids across the sky with its tail on fire. Put a marvellous new machine in your pocket, which promises to solve all of your life’s problems. Reading will be followed by booksigning. Suitable for children aged 6+. Book free tickets now.

Kate Wakeling
13:30 - 14:15
Khairani Barokka

Come experience Indigenous Species, a profoundly original book featuring prose, poetry and Okka’s own ‘rainforest gothic’ artwork. This is also a bold experiment in making a sight-impaired accessible art book with Braille alongside conventional text and tactile images. Indigenous Species is published by Tilted Axis, a publisher dedicated to shaking up contemporary international literature. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

Khairani Barokka
14:30 - 14:45
Podium Poets: Helen Calcutt

Join Helen Calcutt, author of Second Rainfall, one of Waterston’s best selling pamphlets, in the first Podium Poet reading on the Second Floor. Described by Writing West Midlands as “a fresh voice on the poetry scene possessing a sure touch and a movingly vibrant style”, Helen’s poetry is beautiful, precise and always surprising. She is currently poet-in-residence of Loughborough University. Limited seating available. £3. Buy tickets now.

Helen Calcutt
15:00 - 17:00
Out-Spoken Press Showcase: Anthony Anaxagorou, Sabrina Mahfouz, Fran Lock, Hibaq Osman, Raymond Antrobus

From the popular Out-Spoken event, known as “the best night in London”, came Out-Spoken Press, a publisher of fearless, brave, wild and exuberant poetry that’s not afraid to shake things up. Join their incredible poets and performers for knock-out readings that will change how you see poetry and spoken word. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

Anthony Anaxagorou
Fran Lock
Hibaq Osman
Raymond Antrobus
Sabrina Mahfouz
15:00 - 17:00
Sarah Howe Workshop: “The Heart’s Archeology”

‘[G]uessing is always / more fun than knowing’, Auden suggests in his poem ‘Archaeology.’ With its stories of impermanence, chance and recovery, archaeology has been a fruitful subject for poems, as well as a potent metaphor for more personal kinds of searching. In this 2 hour workshop, we will look at how recent poets have used the pursuit of buried remnants to explore our relationship with the past. Writing exercises will encourage you to dig for your own symbolic ‘finds,’ generating new poems in the process. Limited to 15 places. £15/£10. Buy tickets now.

Sarah Howe
17:00 - 17:15
Podium Poets: Amerah Saleh

Our second Podium Poet is Amerah Saleh, a spoken word artist, producer and luminary in the Birmingham art and performance poetry world. Join us in the cosy Podium space on the Second Floor for 15 minutes of unflinching, moving and deeply personal poems that will shake you to your core. Limited seating available. £3. Buy tickets now.

Amerah Saleh
17:30 - 18:30
Hannah Silva, excerpt from Schlock!

An innovative, courageous, “whip-smart but irresistibly seductive tour de force from the always astonishing Hannah Silva”, Schlock! is a performance piece and powerful feminist satire at once strange, powerful and beautiful. Hannah has ripped up Fifty Shades of Grey and spliced it with a novel by Kathy Acker to create a restless new art form where “tongue [meets] text”. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

Hannah Silva
19:00 - 21:00
Sarah Howe, Helen Mort and Kayo Chingonyi

Don’t miss our Saturday poetry headline, which showcases three award-winning and celebrated Chatto poets. Sarah Howe won the TS Eliot prize for her stunning first book, Loop of Jade. Helen Mort’s powerful and necessary second collection No Map Could Show Them was a PBS Recommendation. Apple and Snakes described Kayo Chingonyi’s poetry as “[weighing] each vowel and syllable as if it’s a thing of beauty, which it is, even when the words themselves are breaking your heart”. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

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Helen Mort
Kayo Chingonyi
Sarah Howe
21:00 - 23:00
Come Rhyme With Me Special: Dean Atta and Deanna Rodger

In our Saturday spoken word headline event, Dean Atta and Deanna Rodger invite you to join them for a delicious Caribbean meal as they dish up world class poetry. Featuring performances from Dean and Deanna themselves, plus open mics and a reading by the winner of the Verve Poetry Competition. Come early, stay late, and enjoy spoken word like you’ve never heard it before. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

Dean Atta
Deanna Rodger
09:30 - 10:30
Brum Stanza Breakfast Showcase

Brum Stanza is Waterstones’ popular monthly poetry group, open to all, it attracts experienced and emerging poets from around the region. Join us for a leisurely breakfast and hear Stanza members read their excellent poetry. Book free tickets now.

10:30 - 11:30
Children’s Poetry Writing Workshop: Myths and Monsters

Come and write about a poem about a monster or your favourite character in a story! Award-winning poet Richard O’Brien will run this poem-writing session themed around myths and monsters, providing prompts and feedback. Suitable for children aged 7+. Book free tickets now.

Richard O’Brien
11:00 - 12:00
Beatfreeks Presents: Sunrise

Why don’t you start your day with some poetry? Beatfreeks presents an hour of emerging artists that will add a kick to your morning routine. With performances from: Aliyah Denton, Raza Hussain and Damani Dennisur, we assure you that these tremendous talents will add some flavour to your day. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

11:00 - 13:00
Dean Atta and Deanna Rodger Masterclass

A spoken word workshop with renowned poets Dean Atta and Deanna Rodger. In this writing and performance workshop you will craft your own poem and learn the key skills you need to perform in front of others with confidence. No experience necessary and all types of poets welcome.  Limited to 20 places. £15/£10. Buy tickets now.

Dean Atta
Deanna Rodger
12:00 - 12:45
Emma Purshouse

Local poetry superstar Emma Purshouse reads from her collection I Once Knew a Poem Who Wore a Hat. Reading will be followed by booksigning. Suitable for children aged 6+. Book free tickets now.

Emma Purshouse
12:30 - 14:30
Nine Arches Press Showcase featuring Isobel Dixon, Roy McFarlane, Abegail Morley and Robert Peake

Nine Arches Press is an independent Midlands-based poetry publisher that is dedicated to publishing the very best contemporary work that excites, surprises and delights. In this “Lost and Found” event, join four of their fantastic poets for a reading that explores themes of absence, loss, bearings and finding your way. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

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Abegail Morley
Isobel Dixon
Robert Peake
Roy McFarlane
13:00 - 15:00
Burning Eye Books Workshop

Clive Birnie is editor in chief at Burning Eye Books. In this workshop he will introduce techniques for redaction, montage and cut-up and discuss how your smartphone can help you unlock your creativity and take you in search of the magic intersection where analogue and digital or page and performance connect.Limited to 15 places. £15/£10. Buy tickets now.

Clive Birnie
13:00 - 15:00
Shazea Quraishi Workshop

Writing what you don’t know
In this workshop we will explore the endless possibilities that open up when the I in the poem is not you. Taking inspiration from persona poems by Carol Ann Duffy, T.S. Eliot and others, you will be encouraged to slip into someone else’s skin and imagine their truth. New poems will be generated through writing exercises.

Limited to 15 places. £15/£10. Buy tickets now.

Melissa Lee-Houghton
13:15 - 14:00
Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan: We Come Apart

Two of the most important voices in YA come together to break your heart… Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan read from their new book We Come Apart, a poetic story of two teenagers brought together by circumstance, ripped apart by fate. Reading will be followed by Q&A and booksigning. Suitable for children aged 12+. Book free tickets now.

Brian Conaghan
Sarah Crossan
14:30 - 14:45
Podium Poets: Jasmine Gardosi

Join Jasmine Gardosi, a multi-award winning slam poet that has featured in popular spoken word events in Birmingham and across the UK, such as Level Up, Hit the Ode, Howl and more. Her work is original, funny and piercing and focuses on taboo, its deconstruction and its power over language. Limited seating available. £3. Buy tickets now.

Jasmine Gardosi
15:00 - 17:00
Burning Eye Books Showcase with Emily Harrison, Hannah Teasdale, Jess Green and Pete (the Temp) Bearder

Burning Eye Books is a small independent publisher based in the South West. They specialise in promoting emerging and established spoken word artists with the aim to dispel the assumption that performance poetry does not transfer well to page. They like to explore west of centre to seek out the experimental, the political and the out-spoken. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

Emily Harrison
Hannah Teasdale
Jess Green
Pete (the Temp) Bearder
15:00 - 17:00
Jane Commane Workshop: Editing for Publication

Join Jane Commane, editor at Nine Arches Press, for a crash-course in how to redraft, polish and refine your poems before submitting them for publication. Find out why titles and line breaks matter, and pick up some top tips on ordering and editing your own poems. Includes some essential advice for poets at all levels of experience! Limited to 15 places. £15/£10. Buy tickets now.

Jane Commane
17:00 - 17:15
Podium Poets: Geraldine Clarkson

The final Podium Poet is the multi prize-winning Geraldine Clarkson. She is currently working on a full collection and is making waves with her inventive, playful and remarkable poetry. With limited seating available, make sure you grab your ticket to this unmissable solo reading. £3. Buy tickets now.

Geraldine Clarkson
17:30 - 18:30
Antosh Wojcik, excerpt from Building a Voice Percussion Gun to Kill Glitches in Memory

Join a Penned in the Margins produced performance that explores how dementia affects voice, memory and motor skills. This show, which debuted at the Roundhouse London in 2016, is composed of fluid rhythms of poetry received over live glitch-drumming. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

Antosh Wojcik
19:00 - 21:00
Luke Kennard, Ruby Robinson, Shazea Quraishi

Our Sunday poetry headline event features three ground-breaking poets. Ruby Robinson, reading in Melissa Lee-Houghton’s place, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize and the Felix Dennis prize for best first collection for Every Little SoundShazea Quraishi’s collection, The Art of Scratching, published by Bloodaxe, explores themes of love and loss through sensual and lyrical language. Celebrate Birmingham’s own Luke Kennard as he reads from Cain, the most recent collection from an influential and idiosyncratic voice in British poetry. £6/£4. Buy tickets now.

 

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Luke Kennard
Melissa Lee-Houghton
Shazea Quraishi
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