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!

The Art of the Seen and the Unseen with Kit Fan

Sight plays an uncanny role in art. Whether it’s in painting, sculpture, architecture or music, we experience art through our eyes and imagination in a way that’s public and personal. While capturing the seen, poetry can also reach out to the unseen, the hidden worlds and forces that shape the way we write, read, and connect with feelings and emotions that are outside of our own self.
Through close reading, this workshop will focus on how each word and line collaborate with each other to give rise to meaning and the illusion of meaning. Participants will bring poems or work-in-progress to the workshop which will concentrate on the craft of poetry and explore how the art of the seen and unseen helps shape a poem and a book.

WORKSHOP

Sunday 25th February

10 to 12 noon
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Thursday 15th February

7 to 9 pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

The Mouth In the Poem: Source/ Hiding Place / Factory / Prison with Judy Brown

As well as being part of the instrument for speaking poetry, mouths and their actions appear in many guises in poems. They can be sites of oracle and expressiveness – at the other extreme Elias Canetti called the mouth ‘the prototype of all prisons’.

Explore and create work involving biting into (or back), swallowing up, blurting and spitting out, and clamming up.

Judy Brown is a poet; she also teaches, and mentors poets.
She has spent time as Poet-in-Residence at Dove Cottage / the Wordsworth Trust and at Gladstone’s Library. In summer 2019 she was Arts & Culture Fellow in the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Exeter. She studied English at Cambridge and Newcastle Universities and in the past worked as a lawyer in London and Hong Kong. Judy’s third collection ‘Lairs is due out from Seren Books on 20 October 2022.

WORKSHOP

Saturday 24th February

10 to 12 noon
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Wednesday 14th February

7 to 9pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

The Verve Poetry Festival Competition Event: Eco Poetry

Hosted by our judge, Helen Mort.

The Verve Competition on the Theme of Eco-Poetry opened for entries lat in 2023, judged by the wonderful Helen Mort. Also, for the first time, we opened to competition up to entries from 11-17 yearolds. This FREE to attend event will feature all the winners and commended poets plus ten selected from our 11-17 entries.

The poets will read their poems on our subject and help launch our annual festival anthology. The event will be hosted by Helen herself and will be a fun and lively affair, featuring poets of all kinds and levels of experience. Always a festival highlight!

POETRY

Sunday 25th February

11 to 12:30 pm
FREE

Vessels: Life, death, and refuge with Rebecca Goss

The vessel takes multiple forms: a boat, an urn, a body. In this workshop you will consider the object as container and look closely at what it holds. Jacob Polley’s jar of honey stores more than sticky sweetness, it holds the sun, ‘all flesh and no bones’, whilst Elizabeth Burns writes ‘the earth itself might almost be a vast potter’s wheel, each of us, held by invisible hands/a vessel turned upon it.’ Vessels can be keepers of the human spirit; they can be carriers of human life.

Reflecting how and why vessels are made, this workshop will be an opportunity to uncover the emotional and physical refuge vessels can offer. Using a variety of stimulating texts, join Rebecca to write poems that will explore the vessel’s significance to you.

WORKSHOP

Sunday 25th February

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

Tuesday 6th February

7 to 9pm | Full £22.50 / £17.50

Working the rainbow: using colour to amplify your poem’s impact and reach with Alice Hiller

This hands-on workshop will explore how colour can be channelled to intensify the emotional, political and philosophical resonances of a poem. Generative practical exercises will offer new ways into creating – including a colour-themed guided freewrite, and step by step processes drawing together memory and association with found materials.

Supporting this, we will also look at colour theory and consider how colour is used by poets including Elisabeth Bishop, Gail McConnell, Airea D. Matthews, Anthony Joseph, Paul Tran, Padraig Regan and Ella Frears.

WORKSHOP

Sunday 25th February

1 to 3 pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Thursday 8th February

7 to 9pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Nicole Sealey reading and in conversation with Roy McFarlane

We couldn’t let Nicole Sealsey come all the way from the states for a rare UK appearance without hearing from her a second time! This event will see her in conversation with VERVE regular Roy McFarlane and hear a further reading from her wonderful and vital new collection, The Ferguson Report: An Erasure (Bloodaxe, 2023)

POETRY

Sunday 25th February

1 pm to 2 p.m
Full £8 / Cons £6

Where Else: An International Hong Kong Poetry Anthology

Hosted by Jennifer Wong and Tim Tim Cheng

Featuring both established and emerging Hong Kong poets across generations and continents, Where Else offers a glimpse into an exciting, diverse range of voices that make up the diasporic imagination of the contemporary Hong Kong poetry community. Adopting a diasporic approach, the anthology encompasses both native Hong Kong writers as well as expatriate and mixed-race voices who were born or have lived in the city.

Featuring Kit Fan, Judy Brown, Ian Humphreys, Jennifer Lee Tsai & Claire Cox reading their anthology poems as well as work from their recent publications.

POETRY

Sunday 25th February

2:30 to 4 pm
Full £8 / Cons £6

Making something happen: poetry and power with Helen Mort

In ‘The Defence of Poetry‘, 1821, Shelley claimed that ‘poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world’. This implies a huge amount of power. In this workshop, we’ll consider how much poetry can be an agent of change and discuss the poems that have changed us. There will be reading and creative writing prompts, but all levels of experience are welcome. Please come to the workshop prepared to talk about a poem that has changed or influenced you, if you can.

WORKSHOP

Sunday 25th February

3 to 5 pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Thursday 13th February

7 to 9pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Eco Workshop - Upcycling, Unlearning, Undoing: Language of Transition with Linda France

Linda France is a pioneer of environmental writing – an advocate for language and its ability to shift cultural consciousness. In this workshop, we hover around definitions of ‘the wild’: from inside to outside, from doing to undoing, and from learning to unlearning.

We will consider what the page and an ecosystem have in common: how words carry as much weight as actions, and how we can upcycle language to reflect upon, and expand our understanding of a rapidly changing world. Curated by Kate Simpson, Editor of Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency.

WORKSHOP

Sunday 25th February

3:30 to 5:30 pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Monday 12th February

7 to 9 pm
Full £22.50 / Cons £17.50

Roy McFarlane's Take Flight with Randolph Matthews and support from AFLO the poet.

Take Flight is a captivating blend of spoken word poetry, soulful music, and compelling storytelling. Adapting poems from Living by Troubled Waters (Nine Arches Press, 2023) Randolph and Roy, two passionate creatives, will take the audience on an evocative journey through the tapestry of human experiences, touching on themes of migration, social injustice, family, love and the human spirit.

The collaboration brings voice to the voiceless, praise to our ancestors and a celebration of hope. A performance which is a dynamic fusion of theatrical artistry with an eclectic mix of jazz, soul and gospel, leaving audiences moved and inspired.

SPOKEN WORD

Sunday 25th February

4:30 to 6 pm
Full £8 / Cons £6

SUNDAY NIGHT HEADLINE EVENT: Daljit Nagra, Isabel Galleymore, Marjorie Lotfi

Our final headline event of the weekend brings three wonderful poets together to read and talk about their work. Poetry royalty, Daljit Nagra will be reading from his latest book, Indiom (Faber, 2023) – an astonishing new work from this much admired poet.

Birmingham based Isabel Galleymore’s last book, Significant Other (Carcanet, 2019), was shortlisted for the Forward’s First Book Award and a Telegraph book of the year. The follow-up, Baby Schema, due out from Carcanet in March 2024, will be available early and exclusively at VERVE.

Marjorie Lotfi’s debut collection, The Wrong Person to Ask (Bloodaxe, 2023) won the James Berry Poetry Prize and was a PBS Special Commendation.

This amazing line-up, a real treat, will be hosted for us by Jonathan Davidson from Writing West Midlands and founder of Birmingham Literature Festival. With Support of University of Birmingham

POETRY

Sunday 25th February

6:30 to 8 pm
Full £8 / Cons £6

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