3rd May 2018 – So, we have been SO busy since our launch in February – too busy it seems to sort out a working website, and to start blogging regularly. Well all that changes now. Here we are on a brand spanking new website (thanks to marvellous Verve friend Emma Scott) and we will be blogging and newslettering on a monthly basis from now on…
So what’s been happening? And why so busy? Here’s why…
TWO ANTHOLOGIES LAUNCHED
February saw the first two Verve Poetry Press releases at two very special Birmingham occasions.
Wild Dreams & Louder Voices was released to tie in with the fifth anniversary celebrations of Poetry Jam – the regular open -mic only poetry event run by Verve friends Beatfreeks. Poetry Jam is absolutely one of the most important poetry nights in the city – a safe space where many of Birmingham’s best poets cut their teeth and where the poets of the future a performing RIGHT NOW! Their fifth anniversary birthday bash was held at our wonderful Town Hall and what a night it was – over 500 attended, and the quality of the poetry was sky high. What an event to launch our Poetry Jam Anthology at! The book contains poems from a broad range of local poets, all of whom have performed at Poetry Jam over the years. The contents list is a role call of poetical excellence, both realised and emerging. Names such as Jasmine Gardosi, Joe Cook, Polarbear and Spoz sit alongside names you will certainly hear from in a big way one day – Ahlaam Moledina, Yasmina Silva and Dennis Muhirwa Nkurunziza to name but three.
Barely a week later and we had our second anthology good to go, this time to launch at our sister festival Verve Poetry Festival. An altogether different beast, It All Radiates Outwards features the winning, commended and commissioned poems from our city themed poetry competition and event. Judged by Luke Kennard, the calibre of the entries was sky high. The book reflects this, containing a heady mixture of approaches to the idea and reality of city living by ‘name’ poets such as Jacqueline Saphra, Claire Trevien, Polly Atkin, Roy McFarlane as well as poets to watch: Stephanie Papa, Vik Shirley, Sarah Marina and David Turner. When competition winner C.I.Marshall flew all the way from North Carolina to appear at the Verve City event, we knew we were onto something. Our City Poems anthology is a book to be proud of.
A HOST OF POETS SIGNED…
We have been very busy too talking to local poets about their projects and agreeing schedules for the publication of their collections. We have some wonderful books coming along as the year progresses. June 21 will see the release not only of Leon Priestnall’s debut collection Bennetts Hill Blues, but also Nafeesa Hamid’s first book, Besharam. Both titles launch at a special event at Waterstones Birmingham on June 22, which we can hardly wait for. And both can be pre-ordered now if you go to our site shop! At Verve Poetry Press, if you pre-order you don’t pay postage!
Then beyond the summer, we have Rupinder Kaur’s debut, Rooh which we are really excited for, along with as yet untitled collections from Kamil Mahmood and Hannah Swings. We have three or four other titles in pipe-line too which will shock and delight you, but which we aren’t ready to announce quite yet. It all adds up to a bumper year ahead for Verve Poetry Press!
TWO COLLECTIONS PUBLISHED
You will already know our big news! Just two weeks ago, we published and launched our two debut collections for two amazing Birmingham poets, Amerah Saleh and Casey Bailey! Press co-founder Amerah’s wonderful I Am Not From Here is as glorious as anticipated, exploring the fractured nature of her own identity and a world that, piece by piece, word by hard fought word, is only just beginning to make some kind of sense. Casey’s book, Adjusted, grapples in his trademark musical verse with becoming and losing a parent in the same year and is both a moving and uplifting delight.
The launch was at Waterstones Birmingham and what an event it was! 160 people watched guest poets Hannah Swings, Afrah Yafai, Reuben Field, Raza Hussain, Sophie Wheeler, Adjei Dsane and Ahlaam Moledina perform single poems before Casey and Amerah took to the stage. What an atmosphere! What a great way to properly launch this press for Birmingham!
We urge you to get hold of these two books. They really are thoroughly worth a read. They are available to purchase at our website shop, but you can also order them online or in store from ANY bookshop. (Waterstones Birmingham, Foyles Birmingham, London Review Bookshop and Five Leaves Bookshop in Nottingham are our current stockists.) They are also available to borrow from The National Poetry Library in London’s Southbank Centre and from our very own Library of Birmingham.
AND FINALLY, A WEBSITE…
We do hope you like it. It feels wonderful to finally have an online home. We have all the usual stuff – a SHOP to buy our books from, a statement of intent on our ABOUT page, a way of CONTACTing us. AND a MAILING LIST which we urge you to sign up to as this really is the best way to hear all our news and receive our special offers. On our GALLERY page you will find some pictures from Amerah and Casey’s awesome launch-night. And our EVENTS page is something we’re really proud of. Our poets are excellent performers and are out and about performing NOW! (Esp Casey, who we can’t seem to get off the stage at the moment!). If you want to catch any of them, check out our calendar. We know you won’t be disappointed.
SO, NOW YOU’RE ALL CAUGHT UP … We hope you like it here. You’re welcome any time. Take your time and have a good look around. There’ll be more from us soon. In the meantime, don’t be a stranger 🙂