Before you knew you missed us, Verve are back with the details of a brand new – and slightly earlier – poetry competition ahead of our fourth (fourth!) festival coming February 2020.

The Verve Poetry Competition has been one of the most brilliant parts of the festival since it began in 2017, creating the space for poets and poetry-lovers to come together and celebrate the amazing talent within our community. In the first year, entries on the theme of ‘Birmingham’ were judged by Hannah Silva and compiled into This is Not Your Final Forman anthology published by The Emma Press. In 2018, poets wrote about cities, creating It All Radiates Outwards, the first anthology to be published by Verve Poetry Press, with poems chosen by Luke Kennard. Last year, Joelle Taylor judged from entries on the theme of community, distilled into the 2019 anthology Closed Gates or Open Arms, also published by our sister press.

Every year, we’re surprised all over again by the stunning array of entries, the range of forms, styles and points of view that our poets share with us, so for 2020 we’ve gone ahead and leant right into it with a competition theme of diversity.

Verve is proud to have been born from the desire to bring together all kinds of readers, writers, performers and listeners (and t-shirt colours, although we can’t deny having a preference there) to enjoy poetry in the heart of Birmingham, one of the most diverse cities in the world. What we want from you this year is to give us poems that speak to what diversity – in all its multiplicity and nuances – means to you, and all the kinds of poetry it inspires.

Our judge for this year is Andrew McMillan, who you might recognise as author of award-winning debut collection physical and equally brilliant follow-up playtime. You may also know him as a senior lecturer at the Manchester Writing School at MMU. If none of that rings a bell, you’re sure to remember the highlight of his career when he appeared at Verve in February, talking to Emma Wright about his life and work. As in previous years, he will be selecting three winners (who will receive cash prizes) whose poems will appear alongside twenty-one commended pieces in an anthology published by our sister press. All featured poets will be invited to read at our competition event hosted by Andrew himself and will also be given free entry into all(!) of that day’s Verve events.

To enter, head over to the competition page, where you can also have a peruse of the full terms and conditions and more details about past winners and anthologies. This year we’re also excited to offer a 2 for 1 deal for those on our friendship scheme, Verve Friends. For details about how to take advantage of that offer, as well as all the other brilliant benefits of becoming a Friend, click here. Remember, our competition has moved earlier this year, so make sure to get your entries in before 31st August!

Check back regularly with us for more blog posts, and remember to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and join our mailing list below for all the latest Verve news. Until then, good luck and happy poetry writing!