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VERVE Poetry Press: 2021 to 2022!

At the end of a huge publishing year for VERVE and the beginning of yet another one, Verve Poetry Press Founder and Editor Stuart Bartholomew reflects on 2021 and what exciting things may be coming soon…


Well phew! What a year 2021 for VERVE Poetry Press. With no festival to distract us (don’t worry, we are back in Feb 22) it was a time to concentrate on our publishing side. While live events weren’t really an option most of the time, which harmed our ability to launch books properly, we did our best to run Zoom launches where possible (some incredible evenings were had on that most intimate of settings!) and even tried our hand at live streaming a multipoet event and chat!

In 2021, our publishing programme was part-funded by Arts Council England. This allowed us for the first time to employ help with our marketing – Kibriya Mehrban has done a stunning job blogging, producing wonderful monthly newsletters that read like magazines, and helping us to get our books out there when events haven’t been an option. She has made such a difference and will continue to do so this year too!

With our funding, we were able to have our biggest year of publishing yet! We had our second open submissions window for full collections only in March (over 400 manuscripts submitted 🤯) and produced a wonderful season of collections and pamphlets of every stamp.

A highlight among many has to be Rushika Wick’s glorious debut Afterlife As Trash which was highly commended at the Forwards, reviewed in Poetry Review and was featured in Poem of the Week in The Telegraph. But we are incredibly proud of all the books we published in 2021.


Now in early 2022 and on the eve of our first three publications of the year, we have another massive season of publishing ahead of us, before reining things in a bit in 2023. So many exciting books including debuts by Nicki Heinen, Qudsia Akhtar, Kathy Pimlott and Kayleigh Campbell – spoken word from Kat Lyons, Imogen Stirling and Elle Dillon-Reams, an unexpected fourth collection from Sarah James and pamphlets from Erica Gillingham, Betty Doyle and Peter deGraft Johnsonwhich are all up for pre-order.

We will open submissions once again, this time in May, and will be accepting finished full collection and pamphlet length manuscripts, to search for that handful of books that will make our 2023 season sing… we can’t wait to see what we are sent!

We have our sister festival returning, featuring many of our Press poets and many, many others. After that, we are partnering with the BBC on this year’s Birmingham-based Contains Strong Language Festival in September which will be epic!

We hope that 2022 will see us able to get our poets out and about to readings and launch events much more than last year, and even have plans for a bi-monthly bi-city monthly night with open mic! Keep your ears to the ground for all our news!

I feel that we are beginning to establish ourselves as a press to watch and a champion of variety and diversity as well as excellence in poetry. We are working hard to be an indie poetry press worthy of the name. We thank you for all your support!

Recent additions to our pantheon! Could you join them?

So there you have it! (Almost) everything you need to know about submitting to Verve Poetry Press in one place. If you or anyone you know is interested, be sure to follow us on socials for all the updates and get those manuscripts ready!