VERVE Poetry Festival may have tidied away its fifth iteration but that doesn’t mean we’re done for the year – far from it, in fact. Not only do we have another festival in the works for September in partnership with the BBC, but we’ve also put together not just one but TWO regular nights to add to the Birmingham Poetry Scene. Everything you need to know below!

BOHDAN PIASECKI WORKSHOP

Performing Your Poetry

Friday 09/09/22
3.30pm – 5.30pm
£15/£10 concession

What better way to kick off our series of VERVE-curated workshops than welcome back local legend, poet and host Bohdan Piasecki? He’ll be at Contains Strong Language this year to explore ways that performance techniques can enhance your poetry, how you can breathe life into them, and how with a little thought, planning and practice, you can make your poetry sing! All levels of poetry experience welcome!

SCARLETT WARD WORKSHOP

Space & space - The Infinity of a Blank Page

IN PERSON

Saturday 10/09/22
10.30am – 12.30pm
£15/£10 concession

ONLINE

Monday 05/09/22
7.00pm – 9.00pm
£15/£10 concession

After the heartbreak of having to cancel Scarlett’s workshop at VERVE 2022 in February, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to ask her back to deliver an out-of-this-world workshop. How can we as Poets approach the examination of both Space, as in the galactic, and the space which occupies the small gaps or silences in between the spoken and unspoken, through the relationship between word and page? Join Scarlett on Monday or Saturday to find out!

ROMALYN ANTE WORKSHOP

Legends & Myths in Mundane Life

IN PERSON

Saturday 10/09/22
1.00pm – 3.00pm
£15/£10 concession

ONLINE

Wednesday 07/09/22
7.00pm – 9.00pm
£15/£10 concession

We’re so excited to be welcoming Romalyn Ante back, not just as a Contains Strong Language Poet, but as a workshop facilitator.

In this workshop you’ll look at the art of revising myths through poetry. Exploring the work and approach of other poets such as Fiona Benson, Jericho Brown, Leila Chatti, and more, you’ll learn to excavate and scrutinise the mytho-poetics of daily life, find myth in historical and mundane objects, and use them to illuminate the energy and heart of your poems. You do not need to have full knowledge of your myths, just be willing to be surprised!

SHIVANEE RAMLOCHAN WORKSHOP

Poetry as Ferocity - Writing your Truth with Radical Honesty

IN PERSON

Saturday 10/09/22
3.30pm – 5.30pm
£15/£10 concession

ONLINE

Tuesday 06/09/22
7.00pm – 9.00pm
£15/£10 concession

Next up we’ve got the indomitable Shivanee Ramlochan (I mean, look at that headshot!), who is another Contains Strong Language Poet AND a part of our poetry postcard exchange project Across Borders, presented by Birmingham 2022.

What truths are your poems telling? If not for the reality of your poems, what truths would never be spoken at all? In Poetry as Ferocity, you’ll chart a course for radical honesty in verse, seeking to grow stronger roots for your poems to anchor themselves.

Focusing on work by female Caribbean poets Danielle Boodoo-Fortuné and Safiya Sinclair, you’ll draw on their powerful subversion in writing, using innovative exercises, to unlock the most potent ways to tell the truth your poems require.

Poets have always been political agitators, defenders of the right to wield uncomfortable truths. What truths do you bring to the table, ready and roaring to be told?

NOTE: This workshop involves discussion of potentially triggering content and strong language.

DZIFA BENSON WORKSHOP

The Gift

IN PERSON

Sunday 11/09/22
10.30am – 12.30pm
£15/£10 concession

ONLINE

Tuesday 06/09/22
7.00pm – 9.00pm
£15/£10 concession

Oh, you shouldn’t have! It’s another double whammy Contains Strong Language & Across Borders Poet! Dzifa will be sharing her multi-disciplinary wisdom in this ‘gift that keeps on giving’ workshop.

Using the often-potent power of gifts in our lives, Dzifa will guide you through using the emotional weight and memory that these objects are loaded with as a framework to write some equally powerful lyric poetry.

This workshop aims to harness this potentiality of gift giving and receiving, in combination with a deep dive into the subconscious, to enable writers to render familiar objects as fresh and surprising stimulus for uncommon poetry.

KOSTYA TSOLAKIS WORKSHOP

Language Is a Queer Thing

IN PERSON

Sunday 11/09/22
1.00pm – 3.00pm
£15/£10 concession

ONLINE

Wednesday 07/09/22
7.00pm – 9.00pm
£15/£10 concession

It’s an *absolute joy* to be bringing Kostya Tsolakis back to the Hippodrome, this time to deliver a workshop on the queering of language, following on from his part as a workshop facilitator in the Language is a Queer Thing project, presented in partnership with The Queer Muslim Project and British Council as part of India/UK Together Season.

In this session, Kostya, who is also the editor of harana poetry, the online magazine for poets writing in English as a second or parallel language, will guide you through the labyrinth of possibilities when translating queer experiences across borders and between dialects and languages.

Are there ‘untranslatable’ words? Can we translate non-English queer usage and retain its ‘charge’? What can we learn from other artforms that show themselves queer? And how can we apply historical and personal experiences of rejection, exile and division to queer expression and writing about self-discovery?

SARADHA SOOBRAYEN WORKSHOP

The Curiosity Toolkit: The Art of Unknowing in Poetry

IN PERSON

Sunday 11/09/22
3.30pm – 5.30pm
£15/£10 concession

ONLINE

Monday 05/09/22
7.00pm – 9.00pm
£15/£10 concession

Our final workshop of the festival is Saradha Soobrayen – another CSL/Across Borders Poet combo, and she’ll be sharing her wisdom and broadening our horizons in her workshop on seeing, knowing and not knowing in poetry.

“…poems are like dreams: in them you put what you don’t know you know.” Adrienne Rich

This workshop explores how embracing the unknown can challenge our preconceptions and certainties, allowing for contradictions, tensions and paradoxes. Through group discussions, writing prompts and a close reading of Adrienne Rich’s poem ‘Diving into the Wreck’, we will reassess our own ways of seeing and being in poetry.

Phew! We can’t wait to see you at any/all of these over the Contains Strong Language – and if that’s STILL not enough, get this: The Laurel Prize are also hosting two workshops over at in the PoliNations forest, with Elena Karina and with Glyn Maxwell PLUS production company Calling the Shots are running an animation workshop too. Those are free but, of course, places are limited – so grab tickets while you can!

For the full CSL Line-up hit the button above! In the meantime, be sure to check back here regularly for updates and sign up to our mailing list for all the latest direct to your inbox.

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