Posted on

Kamil Mahmood

Kamil Mahmood is a Poet, Spoken Word and Visual Artist born and raised in Birmingham His work explores identity, community, Islam, the British Pakistani Diaspora, masculinity and international activism. He combines contemporary commentary with narratives of the often overlooked and unheard, championing words as tools for change.

He has worked with organizations including Beatfreeks, Birmingham REP, Ummahsonic, Sampad, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and has perfomed with Out-Spoken, live on BBC Asian Network, at the Midlands Arts Centre, the Birmingham Hippodrome, Ikon Gallery as well as Cheltenham and Verve Poetry Festivals. He has been described as a wordsmith of the ages whose lyrics permeate the zeitgeist and a promising prospect for the UK Poetry scene.

Kamil’s thrilling debut collection, Mute Men articulates the author’s musings born on late bus journeys and silent morning car trips with his Dad.

Kamil focuses on narratives of the often side-lined, within the microcosm of the Muslim immigrant majority area that raised him as well as internationally, exploring the fallout of colonialism, war and displacement. The collection is a brutally honest collage of disconnect, of a boy stumbling into manhood; processing a strayed history whilst probing his place in the world.

‘A powerful and timely collection exploring the tension carries by many British South Asian men. Kamil’s poems are steeped in empathy and dazzling lyricism as he interroagets

race, masculinity and religion within his community. This is an important piece of British poetry.’ Caleb Femi

‘The equivalent of sitting in your nani’s kitchen, sipping chai, eating samoseh with chutney, chit chatting, reminiscing, debating, challenging, mind and mouth wide open, ready for the next morsel of knowledge to be handed down, His work is daring and unapolagetic, his style closely connected to his roots (Birmingham and Pakistan); his ideas brazen. At times difficult to digest, Kamil’s debut collection is one I will be coming back to time and time again.’ Nafeesa Hamid

Number 6

Doors slam themselves awake
knees scuttle steps tiptoeing insects.

I haste along the thick of it
pace to a place that’ll displace me
out of the routine.

White flag a bus to bring colour to this grey.
In mind’s eye spark hills, brooks and green halls.
surely the sullied hull of this ship will last
but touch wood the polaroids don’t develop too fast

I’m running
no faster than 30 MPH
amber lights contemplation
red lights meditation
vibrating laps and sweat clothed backs the sensation

This microcosm might cost 4.20
but this trip could be the day saver
Stay in your own lane
Poles and pockets

Foreign tongues wafting their scents
breeding the environment with their own
and in a split second it’s not a bus
It’s a boat or a PIA aeroplane
and it’s time share.

Hijabs and turbans and crucifixes
Masjids meet gurdwaras greet churches

Side by side in tessellation
Unknown in their piloted utopia

On a road that’s more like an aorta.

Posted on

Yasmina Nuny

YASMINA NUNY is a poet from Guinea-Bissau. She was born in Portugal and was brought up in different African countries before going to the UK for her studies.

She began performing in 2016 at open mic events around Birmingham and owes a lot to the second city for her development as an artist. She has since been featured at events like Heaux Noire (London), Funkenteleky (Birmingham) and the Verve Poetry Festival R.A.P. Party (Birmingham).

Yasmina has also had her poetry published in two other Verve collections –  The Poetry Jam Anthology Wild Dreams & Louder Voices (2018) and Nafeesa Hamid’s Besharam (2018).

Yasmina Nuny’s debut, Anos Ku Ta Manda, is as fresh and vital as her performance style. She writes both in English and Kriol, her mother tongue, to portray plural and untranslatable existences.

Her collection – so powerful – begins with an exploration of her country Guinea-Bissau, that remains accessible through language and family. Following this welcome into her home, Yasmina offers a more intimate reading of her musings and experiences of love and relationships. The final voice that we find in the collection is a political one, exploring both the trauma and joys of Black womanhood. Anos Ku Ta Manda is defiant and the experiences it explores are informed by Yasmina’s relationship with God.

This collection also feature guest poems from up and coming poets Darnell Thompson-Gooden and Ayo.

 

SAMPLE POEM: Free

I have loved myself to this

place.

To this state.

Enough to preserve when needed,

cry when needed,

war when needed.

Shave, regrow, rebirth

as needed.

Bloom where it is possible,

learn from all of it.

Unlearn to apologize for it –

for 

myself.

We been there already,

done that already.

No longer at peace with disrespecting

God

like that.

 

SAMPLE VIDEO:

Posted on

Katrina Naomi

Katrina Naomi

It’s wonderful to be able to welcome the amazing Katrina Naomi to our poetry family! Her reading at the first every Verve Festival was incredible and we have been in touch ever since! We knew something amazing would come out of her Arts Council funded trip to discover the poetry of Japan, but never thought we would be publishing the resulting pamphlet! Needless to say, it is more than equal to the high standards she has set in her previous work (incl our favourite, The Way the Crocodile Taught Me).

Katrina Naomi is a powerful poet based in Penzance with two collections and three other pamphlets to her name. In 2018 she received a BBC commission for National Poetry Day. Her poetry has appeared in The TLS, Poetry London, The Poetry Review and The Forward Book of Poetry 2017, as well as on BBC TV’s Spotlight and Radio 4’s Front Row and Poetry Please. Her latest collection, The Way the Crocodile Taught Me (Seren, 2016) was chosen by Foyles’ Bookshop as one of its #FoylesFive for poetry. Katrina was the first writer-in-residence at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in W Yorks. She has a PhD in creative writing (Goldsmiths) and tutors for Arvon, Ty Newydd and the Poetry Society.

Katrina Naomi at Verve '17

In 2018 she spent six weeks in Japan – funded by the Arts Council and the British Council – walking in the footsteps of haiku master Bashõ and immersing herself in Japanese poetry. The result is a beautiful chapbook titled Typhoon Etiquette.

The poems inside at once depict Japan, its traditions, its customs with great enthusiasm and some puzzlement. Katrina doesn’t pretend she is an expert but prods and questions not only what she finds but also herself. 

Also included are Katrina’s translations of Haiku by two Japanese masters, which have previously been published in Modern Poetry in Translation magazine. Altogether, this is Katrina trying something new, but with the quality, the wonderful way with words that characterises all her work.

 

Sample Poem: In a Plum Grove

The plums are from all over Japan
I won’t eat them
but admire their shapely leaves
which are clinging on
in this typhoon
I also admire a stream surging through
Kenrokuen Garden
emboldened

Umbrellas hurry past
the typhoon hasn’t truly hit yet
this is only a taste
By tomorrow there’ll be more
umbrellas on the ground
than plums

 

Get in touch:

www.katrinanaomi.co.uk

Twitter: @KatrinaNaomi

Posted on

Claire Trevien

Claire Trevien

We are honoured to have esteemed poet Claire Trevien as one of our experimental poetry pamphlet authors. Her Penned In The Margins collection, Asteronyms, is a real favourite of ours. Her idiosyncratic poetic vision, in English pulled from the depths of a French mind, is often gobsmacking, painfully entertaining.

Claire Trevien

Claire Trévien is a British-Breton writer currently living in Brittany, France. She is the author and editor of several poetry and non-fiction books including The Shipwrecked House, which was longlisted in the Guardian First Book Award, and the remarkable Asteronyms. She was the recipient of a Hawthornden Castle Fellowship in 2018. Trévien founded Sabotage Reviews and the annual Sabotage Awards, which under her guidance has become the single most important prize celebrating the activities of Indie Publishers and Events Organisers in the UK.

Her new pamphlet, Brain Fugue, is as inventive and playful as we’ve come to expect from this glorious poet. Claire can bring concepts, ideas and feeling to life with phrase after startling turn of phrase. She can play with form to create new and exciting ways of placing words on the page. 

But as with much play, things can quite easily tip into becoming a more serious kind of struggle. The struggle to feel settled – to understand – and finally, the struggle to find some kind of inner peace. Because lively energy and brilliance can also speak of the frantic attempt to find solutions that are never quite within reach.

This complex, multi-layered pamphlet of poems speaks of the complexity of the human mind as much as it does the complicated mind of this poet. Brain Fugue is an astonishing piece of work. Order your copy here>>>>>>

Sample Poem from Brain Fugue:

Brain as City

As the sky drawstrings to darkness,
                your buildings wake
– raise their skirts out of the gutter
                with an unsteady focus;
the park uproots itself,
                swings to the right,
its eyes two horses on springs,
                its mouth of sand empties.
The river abandons her bed
                tips out into the street,
(which itself has unlocked its jaws,
                the crossroad crumples into
the alley, headlines procreate
                with street signs, “STOP CHICKEN”,
“ORGANIC KING”, “WARNINGLAND”).    
                Now, the Ladbrokes rolls out
like a rubber band ball,
                accumulating house numbers.  
They lurch forward: bus stops,
                compost bins, roofs of clay, slate, and grit,
 doors united into a leg
                (windows leave
 the most curious prints behind),
                and they sink deep, and then deeper,
 into the mushrooming ground,
                not a spire left
 to periscope.

 

Claire’s incredible film poem Interpunct.

https://www.clairetrevien.co.uk/

Twitter: @CTrevien

Instagram: ctrevien

Posted on

‘We’re the extended family of indie publishers, editors, poetry nights, producers and event organisers.’ – Cynthia Miller on what Verve is and why it is the single most ambitious and important thing she’s ever done.

Next Thursday the single most ambitious and important thing I’ve ever done kicks off. Verve Poetry Festival’s mission is to showcase the diversity, heart and dizzying talent of UK poets and change how you feel about poetry. It runs Feb 14-17 in Birmingham.

We have a ludicrous line up of 50+ poets who, I kid you not, are life=changing to hear and read. Poets like Vahni Capildeo, Roger Robinson, Bernadine Evaristo, Liz Berry, Polarbear, Inua Ellams, Momtaza Mehri, Andrew McMillan, Amy Key, Anthony Anaxagorou, Alison Brackenbury and many, many more!

Also, if you haven’t heard of those names, that’s *totally cool*. Actually, that’s IDEAL. I love that hundreds of poetry nerds enjoy Verve but what i love most is when people who aren’t writers attend / are dragged along and end up being astonished, moved, delighted. 

Here’s what I mean: this is one of my favourite Verve photos. It’s form 2017, our first festival. My friend showed up for moral support and was so blown away by Emily Harrison in the Burning Eye Books Showcase event. That joy is what poetry should do for everyone, not just poetry lovers.

Some poetry you’ll love. Some you won’t (which is fine too!). The whole point of Verve is that you get to experience different kinds of art without all of the pretention, eye-watering prices, London-centricity or homogenous line-ups that usually happens in the literature world.

This year we’re experimenting with a bunch of new things. We’re launching an Annual Performance Lecture with poetry icon Anthony Anaxagorou, blending spoken word and academic discourse for an incisive, urgent, discussion of race and class in how page vs stage poetry is perceived.

We’re book-ending the fest with two music/poetry jams – Inua Ellams RAP Party on Thursday and The Funkenteleky Verve Special for Sunday’s finale, because everyone needs hip-hop and improv jazz in their life. We’re hosting our first ever Poet of the Festival, Sumita Chakraborty, all the way from the US!

We were blown away by UniSlam last year and so collaborated on a special Verve Prize at UniSlam 2019 for an individual performance, which was won by Prerana Kumar. We also commissioned Second City Poets (who won UniSlam 2018) for a new piece called Playground. See them above bout to drop the hottest album ever.

The point is Verve is about innovating new formats while amplifying important voices and work that is already here. We’re the extended family of indie publishers, editors, poetry nights, producers and even organisers.

There are some people and organisations to big up who have embraced the festival and our agenda and supported with their time and energy. Swift Foundation, Aki Schilz, Poetry School, Yoniverse, RAP Party, UniSlam, Apples and Snakes Midlands, Bohdan Piasecki, Funkenteleky, Nine Arches Press, The Emma Press, Burning Eye Books, Outspoken Press, Penned in the Margins, Nymphs and Thugs,  Poetry Translation Centre. There are many more. They are the real MVPs of poetry. They support us and deserve in turn to be supported by you.

Anyway, in case you are in any doubt, the best way that you can support our work if you value what we do and why we do it is to attend our festival. After all, festivals are only ever as good as the audiences they attract. We promise you the poetry time of your life! I hope you can be there.

https://vervepoetryfestival.com

Posted on

‘Black women win when we write our own narratives.’ – Odelia Younge on the joy of co-writing and editing ‘A FLY Girl’s Guide to University.’

Ariana Brown wrote in her poem “Supremacy,” “in what version of the story do black women win?” I know from my time working on this book and other writings in my life that black women win when we write our own narratives. We win when we pry open the chains of the world and live for ourselves and each other. We win when we love ourselves.

Dreaming up A FLY Girls’ Guide to University was a love song to myself, black women, and other women of colour invested in breaking silences to push back against oppressive systems. I knew that I had spent too much time behind ivory towers to only hear the same story told inside and beyond them. Our stories are not here for diversity campaigns and our photos are not only for recruiting brochures. We are real and nuanced.

My mother is a writer and I have always been encouraged to write as a means of liberation for myself. Through her influence on my life, I have championed the idea of creating yourself to freedom, which is about owning our narratives and using creativity of our inheritance to map a journey toward self-actualization.  Words may have been used to enslave me, but I have also used them to free me. And that impact is compounded when my voice joins together with others. It’s been the greatest joy to not write this book alone. 

Suhaiymah, Waithera, and Lola, have always been there along the way. To see our stories intersect, diverge, and empower, has only strengthened our work.

This book is much more than just a collection of prose, poetry, and essays about our time at Cambridge. It’s about every institution that is steeped in power and elitism. Every institution that writes strict codes of who can represent it, and who it serves. This book will resonate with anyone who has ever found themselves in the midst of these institutions or wondering what the insides are like. We don’t represent every story, but we do represent our stories. Join us in having these discussions.

A FLY Girl’s Guide To University is out on Thursday 24th January and available for pre-order with free postage right up to the end of January. Order your copy by clicking on the book cover above!

Odelia, Suhaiymah, Lola and Waithera are launching their wonderful book at three (and only three) UK events this month! They will talk about the book, answer questions, read poetry and sign copies at inspiring events in Cambridge, Birmingham and London. Follow the links below to book tickets – you don’t want to miss them!

Cambridge – 26/01/19 – https://bit.ly/2CCEFGp

Birmingham – 30/01/19 – https://bit.ly/2FNgmIU

London – 02/02/19 – https://bit.ly/2AY8jG2

Posted on

Evrah Rose

Introducing Evrah Rose: We are thrilled to announce that Evrah has agreed to let us publish her debut poetry collection this coming Autumn. Evrah Rose is making big waves in her native Wales and beyond, speaking passionately into camera on BBC SESH and kicking up a storm with her ferocious and energetic live performances. On the page, she is able to reproduce this energy (and her unblinking determination to depict difficult subjects) wonderfully. We look forward to supporting this powerful poet as she propels herself further into the poetry stratosphere. Keep your eyes peeled for further announcements.

Evrah Rose is an injustice driven poet and spoken word performer. Hailing from Wrexham, North Wales, Evrah delves in to taboo subject matter, unafraid and unapologetically. Using a mix of her own experiences and perspectives of others, Evrah confronts issues such as rape, mental health, addiction and domestic violence to evoke conversation. Evrah began writing poetry when she was just 9 years old to enable herself to rationalise her experiences. As a result, she became socially conscious and passionate about breaking silence. 

Just this year Evrah was commissioned by the BBC to write and create spoken word films and has had her work publicised by BBC 2, 3, 4 and BBC Wales. Evrah has headlined various spoken word events around the North West and has also performed at including Apple’s and Snakes DiVerse #7. As a music lover, Evrah combines both music and poetry to create a contrast that both stimulates and inspires and has subsequently been aired by BBC Radio Wales as part of BBC Introducing. 

Evrah’s work is a fusion of no nonsense realism, social injustice and hard hitting truths offering her audience a thought provoking experience that leaves them awakened.

Find Evrah:

Facebook: EvrahRose

Twitter: @evrahrose

Instagram: @evrahrosepoetry

Posted on

Helen Calcutt Introduces ‘Eighty Four – Poems on male suicide, vulnerability, grief and hope’

Helen Calcutt’s introduction to the anthology she instigated in aid of a cause so very close to her heart demands to be read. It eloquently and passionately states her reasoning behind and hopes for this unblinking but hopeful collection of poems and some of the background about CALM’s fight to raise awareness around this important issue. As such, we have decided to reprint it here in its entirety. Read, digest, and then please help by buying this incredible book. Help us help CALM. And most importantly of all, help yourself. Verve Poetry. 

A few weeks after my brother Matthew died, my daughter told me she could see his face in the moon.

Days later, when she spied its silver disc in the window again, she said, that actually, it wasn’t just his face she could see. Everyone who had ever been sad was up there.

The moon changes, and so too, do all the people in its glow.

And that was when I realised ….

    We all suffer. There’s this idea that the personal blow of death, or a trauma, can’t be relatable. And with society’s insufferable ignorance to human vulnerability (especially male vulnerability) it’s difficult to see how this could ever change. But I feel it can, if we stop the bullshit. If we accept the reality of the human condition – that it’s a diverse, beautiful, troubled, elated, mish-mash of a being – and if we live by its natural demands, we can influence what is considered ‘normal’ behaviour. What currently stands as such has been working against us for generations, and ultimately, brought us to the mental health crisis we find ourselves in today.

   There are other factors to this issue – foremost, lack of funds to mental health services. But change starts with the individual, and this is one of the reasons I created this book. I received little-to-no help from any authority or public service after my brother killed himself. The doctor signed me off for three weeks and I was offered pills. What does this do? This response, though an initial kindness, had no relevance whatsoever to the patterns of my complicated grief, and this signalled a twisted understanding of it, or worse, a normalised ignorance to my vulnerability, in all its ugliness and truth. It also exposed a desire to sweep the problem under the carpet. As was the police’s response after my brother was found. Male dead, domestic tragedy. Tick the box. Move on.           

     It’s my understanding that, at present, society is shaped to deny us our defining human quality: our complexity. To be human is to be vulnerable. It is also to be aggressive, quiet, commandeering, violent; it depends on the circumstance you find yourself in. But these are all naturally existing, powerful sides to us. For whatever reason, society encourages an over-simplified existence, thus generating accepted ‘norms’ to our behaviour. We live, we die. We weep, we laugh. We suffer, we feel joy. It would seem we’re only ready to acknowledge and celebrate three of these six crucial human emotions. 

And the desire to live up to this warped standard of being has sadly become greater than the desire for truth. 

    Women cry, men do not. Men hit women, women don’t hit men. Both examples of what we would consider a socially accepted norm, denies either party their natural complexity. Women do hit men, and though a violent and harmful act, it also highlights a particular type of vulnerability (perhaps a trauma too) that needs addressing. Men weep. It’s probably one of the deepest, moving sounds I have ever heard. Denying this as a normal attribute to male behaviour, almost refuses them the basic right to grieve, to shed a skin – to let it out. Grief isn’t just about death either. The effects of grief and trauma are very present in the body and mind of someone who has suffered divorce. The loss of a life we love, either from sudden house eviction to an extra-marital affair, can take 12 months at the very least, to overcome. We can even grieve, deeply and with absolutely profundity, the loss of our former selves in the wake of any personal travesty.        

    Not acknowledging the many possibilities, the many realities, to inner turmoil, is damaging. It represses and confuses us. Suicide rates are through the roof in the U.K. Male suicide stats are particularly devastating. 84 men kill themselves a week, my brother being one of them. The reasons why he did it, are complicated. And unknowable to us in many ways. But I will say, that the pressures of a society largely unwilling to accept the anxiety and despair of a ‘man’s man’ (holding down a job, a mortgage, child-care) will have had something to do with it.

     The more we work to a fixed behavioural and emotional ‘standard’, the more we squash the natural intricacies of the broader human condition—not honouring or respecting who, and what we are. It’s time we changed that. After putting out the call for submissions and contributions to this anthology, I can see I’m not alone in my thinking. 

Anthony Anaxagorou, Nick Makoha, Carrie Etter, Salena Godden, Katrina Naomi, Ian Patterson, Andrew McMillan, Mario Petrucci, Abigail Morley, Joelle Taylor

The many poems I received, felt ready-made. Like they had been waiting at the bottom of a draw for the perfect opportunity and place to speak. I’m glad those who submitted felt this was it. The poems published here, and the adjoining blog, have given this book the truth it was seeking, showcasing humanity in all its vulnerable beauty. From the baby in the bath who knows that daddy is gone, to the woman whose father haunts her like a wolf through the window, anthology Eighty-Four gathers an exquisite collection of voices, singing completely different hymns, but together creating a sincere and authentic piece of music. From well-known poets, to new voices, there’s a glittering strength of character to this volume, because of the honesty from which its poems have been created, courageously and delicately embracing human complexity in all its forms.

    I knew immediately the title would be ‘Eighty-Four’. Inspired by the success of the #MeToo anthology, I wanted to create something for a specific cause, that honoured and supported Project 84, by the charity CALM (campaign against living miserably) and drew attention to an issue in the only way I knew how: through poetry. But, for me, this number represents more than a devastating statistic. 84 men lost to suicide a week isn’t a simple black and white problem. And the problem itself, isn’t a symptom of any single cause. It’s part of a wider dilemma, acutely connected to our almost pathological denial of human fragility (connected perhaps, to our fear of immortality and death). If you’re reading this, you may not feel an immediate emotional connection to male suicide. But you can understand the prevalence and seriousness this number holds. You might also start to understand what it means for us as a society, and share in asking the crucial question: how shamefully oppressive have we allowed the world in which we live, to become?

     Together, with the creative minds at Verve Poetry Pres, CALM, and my wonderful father and co-editor, we have created a book that, in opening its doors to the devastating theme of male suicide, has inspired a river of additional sub-themes and contexts: all relevant and connected to the central theme. At one stage, I considered grouping the poems under different chapters. But with time, I saw this wasn’t necessary. Anthology Eighty-Four has taken on its own life and shape, with each new phase of reading, though distinct, somehow aligned and in harmony with the one before it. There are poems here that sing to each other. Words and images that relate, yet with their altered backdrops, offering new perspectives. There are clear changes in voice and tone: the angry man, to the angry bereaved. This kind of opposition (or ‘balance’ as I like to call it) gives this anthology the emotional range it deserves, and is an authentic reflection of the overwhelmingly diverse, and sustained affects of suicide. Each poem conducts its own careful truth, told with searing conviction. Light and shade.

     This book is for every single person who has ever felt silenced. For anyone who feels uncomfortable talking about trauma or grief, to those currently suffering from grief-by-suicide, or who want to learn more about mental health issues. Let this be your touch-stone. Not only does it prove how powerful poetry can be in bringing our injured worlds into view, it also exposes a new, hopeful reality. Saying to you – start talking and keep going. Live through and voice your vulnerability. Speak and live your humanity.

    This book is also for Matthew. The older brother who was always giving. The first one to call me and tell me everything was going to be okay when I was pregnant. Whose laughter filled the room and infected every single person in it. Who was honest about not liking poetry. Who listened, and reserved judgement. Who was open and giving to every other human flaw, right to the end. Just look how this generosity has inspired others and lived on.

Helen  Calcutt (December 2018).

Full list of poets included (A-Z): Anthony Anaxagorou, Romalyn Ante, Casey Bailey, Abie Budgen, Lewis Buxton, David Calcutt, Helen Calcutt, Louisa Campbell, Diana Cant, Garry Carr, Stewart Carswell, Gram Joel Davies, Michelle Diaz, Glyn Edwards, Carrie Etter, RM Francis, Alan Girling, Salena Godden, Emily Harrison, John Hawkhead, Martin Hayes, Alastair Hesp, Shaun Hill, Paul Howarth, Rosie Jackson, Janet Jenkins, Helen Kay, Asim Khan, Charles Lauder Jr, Hannah Linden, Jane Lovell, Nick Makoha, Liam McCormick, Andrew McMillan, Abegail Morley, Katrina Naomi, Antony Owen, Isabel Palmer, Ian Patterson, Mario Petrucci, Zoe Piponedes, clare e.potter, Peter Raynard, Brenda Read-Brown, Victoria Richards, Belinda Rimmer, Bethany Rivers, Stephen Seabridge, Richard Skinner, Caroline Smith, Janet Smith, Joelle Taylor, MT Taylor, Christina Thatcher.

 

Posted on

THE END OF A WONDERFUL FIRST YEAR FOR VERVE POETRY PRESS!

Well, that went by quickly. Verve Poetry Press has completed it’s first full year as an indie poetry publisher for Birmingham. And what a year it’s been! We have published so many wonderful poets this year. Here’s the list: Matt Abbott, Casey Bailey, Jenna Clake, Nafeesa Hamid, Rupinder Kaur, Luke Kennard, Polarbear, Leon Priestnall, Amerah Saleh, and Hannah Swinger, as well as anthologies with Beatfreeks Poetry Jam, Verve Poetry Festival City Poems and Lunar Poetry Podcasts. You an read all about these wonderful poets and books via https:vervepoetrypress.com/shop

Our year end bash at Glee Club Birmingham was an absolute blast, featuring performances from all our poets and wonderfully hosted by poet with the mostest Leon Priestnall. The pics above are from this event. It was wonderful seeing our whole year of publishing alive on the stage and the sense of family this created. And we had a wonderful turnout too, which made us feel that people were glad to have us (which is a lovely feeling indeed).

The next six months ahead looks equally exciting for us, with books planned with incredible local poets Jasmine Gardosi, Kamil Mahmood, Yasmina Silva and Scarlett Ward – pamphlets due from the incredible Katrina Naomi, Ben Norris and Clare Trevien and two important books coming first thing in January – Eighty Four: Poems on Male Suicide, Vulnerability, Grief and Hope, edited by Helen Calcutt and in aid of CALM – and A FLY Girl’s Guide to University by Lola Olufemi, Odelia Younge, Waithera Sebatindira and Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan. Believe me, you don’t want to miss either of these books. And with more wonderful books to announce for the Autumn soon, you can see we are in for another exciting year!

I hope you are all as excited as we are! We have been so well received as a brand new indie poetry press and would like to take this opportuniy to thankyou, our readers, our audiences, for all the support you have shown us in these last twelve months. We don’t deserve you but we strive to earn your continued support. 

We’d also like the thank the bookshops who have taken the trouble and leap of faith required to stock some of our books when there are so many books available to stock – you are many and we are so thankful for every order, but we’d like to mention in particular, Waterstones Birmingham (essentially our home store), Blackwells Oxford, Pages of Hackney and Five Leaves Nottingham, for support beyond anything we could have expected in terms of both stocking of books and putting on events – thankyou! 

The poets and I are so, so very grateful to all of you! Look out for more news from us in the new year and have a wonderful and peaceful Christmas Season. With all our best wishes. VPP! 🙂

Posted on

‘We are real!’ – Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan on why The Fly Girl’s Guide to Cambridge needs to exist.

Three years ago during my final year studying History at Cambridge, me and three of the most wonderful, fiery, radical & brave women I know – Lola Olufemi, Waithera Sebatindira and Odelia Younge – decided to write a book documenting our experiences as women of colour in an institution that so violently erased our realities, histories and sometimes our very existences; in fact an institution which ideologically and financially was rooted in and flourished on the concept and consequences of slavery, racism and colonialism.

We all 4 initially met at “FLY” – a group founded before we arrived, specifically as a space for women and non-binary people of colour. In that space was the first time I found the truth of my experiences at Cambridge validated and recognised, and I found I didn’t have to be weighted down by the experience of white supremacist patriarchy but that I could funnel my feelings into anger and creativity! It sparked my engagement with radical politics, poetry and decolonial feminism ever since.

The book, of course, was not something anyone wanted to publish. One publisher actually told us it would have been better if it were fiction – a reminder that it is easier to empathise with women of colour when we aren’t real.

However, alhamdulillah, this year @vervepoetrypres listened to our vision, heard us and recognised that this book needs to exist. IMHO we don’t particularly need a best seller or big recognition.

. I am excited solely because this book is a testament to the experiences that never get heard and thus are never accepted as real. But we are real. Our experiences are real and this book is a testament to us and every woman of colour struggling to articulate how it feels to be in spaces built for others.

We publish in January inshaAllah (and you’re all invited to the launches! Dates tbc!) but you can pre-order RIGHT NOW by clicking on the book cover illustration on this page.

Above all I hope our FLY GIRL’S GUIDE can be a testament, a refuge and a friend to anyone who needs it. I am so thankful for all the WOC in my life and ultimately, always, to Allah.

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan @thebrownhijabi