2024 Lineup

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

FULL FESTIVAL PASS   SATURDAY FESTIVAL PASS    SUNDAY FESTIVAL PASS    ONLINE FESTIVAL PASS

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!

Underworld: From Myth-Making to Mycorrhiza with Ella Duffy (In collaboration with Magma)

The underworld contains many mysteries, from known unknowns, to unknown unknowns – from hidden mycorrhizal networks to slow processes of decomposition. In this workshop, we invite participants into dark, damp, and heady landscapes. We consider how poetry might allow us to expand beyond our sensory perception, and create new encounters with the worlds under our feet. What kinds of conversations are we having on the page, and how might poems allow us to shift the ways we view the natural world, reframing subject and object? Above and below?

With a focus on ecologies, groundwork, concealed networks, and myth-making, Ella Duffy will explore both human and more-than-human archetypes – particularly those which might manifest beneath the surface. Magma 88: Underworld will be published in March 2024. Curated by Kate Simpson, Editor of Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency.

WORKSHOP

Saturday 24th February

9:30 to 11:30 am | Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Monday 19th February

7 to 9pm | Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Poetics of Insects with Romalyn Ante

Join us in this generative poetry workshop about the poetics of insects. We will explore the intricate realm of insects as a lens through which we can examine both personal and climate crises. We will navigate the evolving landscapes of climate change through the lives of insects, from the tough ant to the fragile butterfly, and the mysterious firefly. We will draw inspiration from the works of acclaimed writers like Yvonne Reddick, Zaffar Kunial, Fiona Benson, and more.

We will explore the challenges and adaptations these wonderful beings undergo in response to environmental shifts. In this workshop we will gain compelling metaphors and insights on the significant interplay between the personal and ecological, helping us craft our own resonating verses.

WORKSHOP

Saturday 24th February

10 to 12 noon
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Monday 5th February

7 pm to 9pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Poetry Society Young Poets Takeover + young person's open mic!

The Poetry Society’s Young Poets Takeovers are a space for up-and-coming young poets and performers to meet one another and share their work on stage. This Takeover will feature headline sets from Roundhouse Poetry slam champion Maureen Onwunali, Foyle Young Poet Doroti Polgar and Birmingham’s very own Young Poet Laureate, Iona Mandal.

If you’re aged 25 or younger, we want to hear from you, too! Bring a poem and arrive early to sign up for our open mic. And join the community! We invite you to stay on afterwards for free refreshments and a chance to meet other young poetry lovers and find out more about Young Poets Network!

YOUNG POETS

Saturday 24th February

11 an to 12 noon
FREE

The Promotion of Writerly Reflection, Stimulation & Determination with Deborah Alma

As a Poetry Pharmacist I have had many years of administering to the terrible afflictions that beset many writers, both at the start of their writing lives and that often return, like scabies, to irritate and bring dismay even in well-established writing careers.

This session may ask you to step outside, both literally and figuratively, from what you’re already doing now. If taken as advised, it will assist with developing habits of noticing, of becoming habitually and intuitively creative, to come at your work slant and to practice self-care.

WORKSHOP 

Saturday 24th February

12 to 2pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Poetry of the Clearing with Roy McFarlane

In Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Babby Suggs invites souls to be free in ‘The Clearing’, we’ll be looking at those places in the past and present where you’ve found a place of safety, a safe haven in times of trouble, a place where you’ve found your true self and have sung, dance, cried and laughed aloud within those spaces.

Whether that be carnivals, dancehalls, in music settings, food, home or in nature. At the end of it all we want to be able to affirm “in this here place, we flesh; flesh that weeps, laughs; flesh that dances on bare feet in grass. Love it. Love it hard…”

WORKSHOP

Saturday 24th February

12:30 to 2:30pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Wednesday 7th February

7 to 9pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Fifth Verve Poetry Performance Lecture - Holly Pester: A Mock-Epic of Cafes

In this year’s Poetry Performance Lecture, we join Holly Pester in an innovative exploration of cafés; their utopian promise and their clinking mundanity. This new performance piece will enact a mock-epic sequence of poems – mock in tone, with Holly cast as a parodic heroine, and mocking also in form, where any heroic narrative trajectory of the poems will repeatedly end in quotidian cafés – and work to situate the café as both a conceptual space and a motif to talk about hope, the future, and a life in art.
We’ll touch on the work of some historical café authors, alongside seeing new poetic work from Holly herself. The Verve Performance-Lecture (a stylised form of teaching-as-performance, originating from contemporary art practice), invites a poet to create a new piece of work fusing academic discourse with poetry and spoken word on a subject of their choosing. Brought to you in association with the Poetry School.

SPOKEN WORD

Saturday 24th February

12:30 to 1:30 p.m
Full £8 / Cons £6

Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency

Panel Discussion with Seán Hewitt, Ella Duffy, Romalyn Ante, Rishi Dastidar, and Emma Must. Chaired by Kate Simpson.

Earth is rapidly becoming a biodiversity deficit. The illusions of civilisation, progress, and choice are crumbling around us, and we are out of time. But we are also existing outside of time, divided between two states – two modes – of panic and complacency, depending on our conceptual reckoning. This session brings together the editor and a selection of award-winning poets from the seminal anthology, Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency (Valley Press, 2021), for a selection of readings and reflections on ecopoetics.

Audiences will be taken on a journey through various emotional states and poetic responses to them, from images of emergency and grief to forms of transformation and work, right through to the question of re-wilding. As we attempt to address our own cognitive dissonance – as poets, as readers, as citizens – in what ways can the page be radically ecological? Be a form of linguistic and empathic activism? Be a way to relocate ourselves in time?

POETRY

Saturday 24th February

2 to 3:30 pm
Full £8 / Cons £6

Young Person's Workshop - Poetry for Joy and Resistance with Liz Berry

A FREE Young Poets Takeover workshop for 11-18 year olds.

Join poet Liz Berry for a playful, practical session about writing joy and how our happiest poems can help us explore and express the things we really care about. NB This workshop will contain material and exercises suitable for an 11-18 age group.

If you’re younger than 11 and want to take part please contact cmangat@poetrysociety.org.uk to organise parental consent.

YOUNG POETS

Saturday 24th February

2:30 to 4 pm
FREE – BOOKING ESSENTIAL

Naming Nature: The Ins and Outs of Words with Zaffar Kunial

‘Sometimes I like to hide in the word foxgloves – in the middle of foxgloves. The xgl is hard to say, out of the England, out of its harbouring word.’ Zaffar Kunial has been widely revered for his deconstructions of words: deconstructions of sound and meaning. Where the words ‘climate’, and ‘crisis’ have become muddied, homogenised, over-used – and ultimately, ignored – how can finding precision in poetry, in the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of vocabularies, offer us a form of radical, ecological attention?

In this inventive workshop, we will listen, intently, to syllables: to the building blocks of language. Kunial invites us to look again at the places we think we know – the words we think we know – and create new pathways for ourselves. England’s Green was published with Faber in 2022. Curated by Kate Simpson, Editor of Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency.

WORKSHOP

Saturday 24th February

3:40 to 5:20pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Hannah Silva: My Child, The Algorithm

Award-winning writer Hannah Silva performs material from her experimental memoir, My Child, the Algorithm, a exploration of queer single parenting and love, in conversation with an AI algorithm and a toddler.

As Hannah navigates friendship, dating and life as a queer single parent in London, her toddler and the algorithm contribute humour, play and insight. With the help/disruption of these unreliable narrators, Hannah deconstructs her story, and constructs a new one.

She unravels everything she has been taught to want, finding alternative ways of thinking, loving and parenting today. Queer, creative, sexy and compassionate, My Child, the Algorithm is non-fiction at its finest.

SPOKEN WORD

Saturday 24th February

4 to 5 pm
Full £8 / Cons £6

SATURDAY NIGHT HEADLINE EVENT: Nicole Sealey, Rebecca Goss, Alice Hiller hosted by Jo Bell

This year’s Saturday evening headline features three incredible poets, all giants in their way on the contemporary UK and world poetry scene. We’re thrilled to be hosting a rare UK appearance from Nicole Sealey whose most recent two collections have been recently published by Bloodaxe. An extract from Nicole’s The Ferguson Report An Erasure won The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2021.

Joining Denise are Rebecca Goss and Alice Hiller. Rebecca’s newest collection Latch (Carcanet, 2023) follows 2019s Girl and the Forwards shortlisted Her Birth (Carcanet, 2023). Alice’s debut full collection, Bird of Winter (Pavilion, 2021) was shortlisted for Best First Collection at the Forwards in the same year. Hosting these three amazing poets for readings and discussion is Jo Bell, renowned poet and co-author of How to be a Poet (Nine Arches Press, 2017).

POETRY

Saturday 24th February

5:30 to 7 pm
Full £8 / Cons £6

Luke Wright's Silver Jubilee, with special guest, Bohdan Piasecki

Over twenty-five years, Luke Wright has built up a reputation for being one of Britain’s most popular live poets. This year he tries to celebrate his jubilee but ends up taking a deep dive into himself, throwing up questions about class, privilege and his adoption. Edinburgh Fringe smash hit.
“This is the best thing that poet Luke Wright has done, which is saying something.” ★★★★★ The Telegraph
“A winning combination of honesty, humour, ire and wonder. He is at the peak of his powers.” ★★★★★ The Stage
“Breathtaking … with a sharpness and wisdom that lifts the soul, and soothes the battered heart.” ★★★★ The Scotsman.
Supporting and introducing Luke will be local poetry powerhouse and winner of this year’s inaugural Forward Prize for Best Performed Poem, Bohdan Piasecki.

SPOKEN WORD

Saturday 24th February

7:30 to 9 pm | £8

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