2024 Lineup

We’re back from Thursday 22nd – Sunday 25th February 2024 at Birmingham Hippodrome!


We are thrilled to return with our hybrid form of festival – allowing all to enjoy, whether you are with us in the flesh or watching and participating online. All events will be BSL interpreted, and streamed to our online audience, as well as being available to view one month after the festival. Our workshops will have parallel zoom versions in the run up to the festival. And our famous VERVE Poetry Festival Bookshop is now online for all your poetry buying needs. We can’t wait to welcome you!

The Iconic Sonnet with Josie Alford

Explore the sonnet form in this workshop with Josie Alford, a poet, youtuber and sonnet nerd (no, seriously, she wrote her dissertation on sonnets). We’ll examine the 14-line structure, delving into the realms of Shakespearean and Petrarchan styles. From iambic pentameter to volta, you’ll discover the poetic nuances that define sonnets and engage in discussions on themes, ranging from love and mortality to societal reflections.

Participants will craft their own sonnets, honing their creativity and experience the art of expressing profound emotions within the confines of structured verse. This workshop promises a deep dive into the sonnet form’s rich history and empowers participants to add to that history.


Friday 23rd February

1:30 to 3:30 p.m
Full £16.50 / Cons £12.50

Dream Compositions with Holly Pester

In this workshop we will consider what strategies for composition and radical reflection come from our dream plots. We will consider the shared processes between dreaming and writing. We will find space to explore the peculiar imaginative shapes that occur to us during dreams, observing what languages of invention are being created there, and how to channel that language into new poetry.

With this year’s Poetry School Performance Lecturer Holly Pester.


Friday 23rd February

3:30 to 5:30 p.m
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Monday 19th February 

7 – 9pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Seeing is Believing: Drafting the Lasting Image with Nicole Sealey

In The Poet’s Companion, Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux note that images should “produce a bit of magic, a reality so real it is ‘like being alive twice.’”

As poets, after mining our respective memories, how do we deepen a reader’s experience with the poem via the image? How does one draft a lasting image?

This workshop will explore the image and its implications. Participants in this all-level, generative workshop will review poems with images that reverberate and draft poems inspired by that work.


Friday 23rd February

4 to 6 p.m
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Monday 5th February

7 – 9 pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

FRIDAY NIGHT HEADLINE EVENT: Seán Hewitt, Jason Allen-Paisant, Alycia Pirmohamed. Hosted by Helen Bowell

Our regular Friday evening poetry headline event features three incredible contemporary poets. Seán Hewitt’s debut full collection Tongues of Fire (Cape, 2020) won the Laurel Prize in 2021, and the follow up, Rapture’s Road (Cape, 2024) is brand new for VERVE.

Jason Allen-Paisant’s lauded debut, Thinking With Trees (Carcanet, 2021) was followed in 2023 by Forward Best Collection winning Self-Portait As Oterllo. Alycia Pirmohamed will be reading from her excellent debut Another Way to Split Water (Birlinn, 2022).

Hosting these three wonderful poets for readings and discussion is Helen Bowell, whose debut pamphlet, The Barman (Bad Betty, 2022), was PBS Summer Pamphlet Choice.


Friday 23rd February

7 – 8.30pm
Full £8 / Cons £6

VERVE Poetry Film Night

At our last festival we hosted tour first poetry film event and it was wonderful! We even had popcorn! From the 100+ films submitted we chose 14 to show at our Birmingham Hippodrome venue. We were thrilled with the variety and quality of the films we received and therefor were able to show.

From poets reading poems but filmed interestingly, to artistic and chaotically abstract films, via animation and much more, it was a pleasure to be able to show and pay tribute to this wonderful artform. SO we decided to do it again! Come and see what visual and audio wonders we have selected this year! You won’t be disappointed.


Friday 23rd February

9 – 10pm
Full £8 / Cons £6

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