In February 2019, Verve Poetry Festival is set to return with a new venue, a new line-up and, most importantly, plenty of brand-spanking new ways to enjoy poetry. Now that the long-awaited programme of events has been revealed, I’ve gone through and done the impossible – picked out some of my favourites:

RAP Party

There ain’t no party like a Rhythm and Poetry party because a Rhythm and Poetry party openly and honestly explores the past, present and future of hip-hop through contemporary poetry and spoken word. I think that’s how it goes anyway.

Thursday 14th sees us ease into the Festival with Inua Ellams and Theresa Lola, among others, as they deliver a night of hip-hop inspired poetry and favourite tunes. I’m most looking forward to seeing Inua Ellams, and if you don’t know why – watch this video to find out:

The YoniVerse presents: Golden Tongue

If you want me to turn up to an event, all you have to do is mention a) samosas and b) spoken word, and this event promises both. The YoniVerse, a collective of South Asian women including Shagufta K, Amani Saeed, Afshan D’Souza, and Shareefa Energy along with Verve Press Poets Nafeesa Hamid and Rupinder Kaur will be serving up a mouth-watering evening of food and poetry.

As a South Asian poet myself, I’m more than a little bit excited to see Verve giving a platform to this amazing poetry night. A celebration of diversity and diaspora, Golden Tongue looks to be a wonderful way to finish up a Verve Friday. And that’s not even to mention the music, provided by singer-songwriter Amrit Kaur Lohia!

The First Verve Annual Performance Lecture

When we said Verve the third was bigger, better and even more ambitious, we weren’t kidding – and here’s the proof. Saturday will see the debut of a brand new format, brought to you in collaboration with Anthony Anaxagorou and the Poetry school.

Anthony Anaxagorou has given the programme some of its most exciting events since 2017, so it’s only right that he the one to pioneer this ground-breaking event. The first ever Verve Performance Lecture will look at how we define performance poetry and what makes it different from page. Even better, the performative lecture will be interrogating spoken word’s connection with race and class.

If you’re excited about the form, you should be ecstatic about this. If you want a taster of how wonderful it is to hear Anthony speak, you can take a look at the video above.

Second City Poets: ‘Playground’

If you were at Verve last year, you might remember the University of Birmingham UniSlam team, Second City Poets, performing a set that made sure we all knew exactly why they won the 2018 slam competition.

This year they’re treating us to a full hour length show, commissioned especially for Verve. I know(!)

Playground looks to be a brilliant exploration of how universal the schoolyard dynamics are, across countries and even across time. These poets are always a pleasure to see perform, and I’m thrilled to find out what they’ll manage to do with this longer production.

Moniza Alvi, Alison Brackenbury, Jacob Sam-La Rose

What a line-up for the penultimate event of Verve 19! This event is going to be a wonderful mixture of reading and discussion from poets I am absolutely thrilled to see at Verve. Moniza Alvi, with her singular voice and delicate use of imagery, is sure to keep us all captivated, while Jacob Sam-La Rose will be treating us to a masterclass (in this one case, figuratively) in poetry as impactful as it is engaging.

Equally as exciting, Alison Brackenbury is launching her 2019 Selected Poems, Gallop, at the festival and reminding us all how her careful attention to detail and understated delivery can resonate throughout a room, or indeed, a repertory theatre.

All in all it’s an evening guaranteed to deliver quality reading, thought-provoking discussion and a generally Verve-y good time. To see a sample of Jacob’s work, hit play here.

So those are my highlights for Verve 2019 – February cannot come fast enough! But what about you? Find us on social media to tell us what you’re most looking forward to from the Verve programme and be sure to get your tickets ASAP to make sure you don’t miss out.