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Your friends and peers are you worst critics - right?

Well, yes – they can be. Especially when they are also a poet! So imagine how Casey Bailey felt when he read the below from his friend and sometime mentor, Leon Preistnall, the day after Leon read Casey’s Verve Poetry Press collection Adjusted.

‘I absolutely love Adjusted. I like it even better than his short collection, Waiting at Bloomsbury Park, and I REALLY liked that. I was with the entire collection throughout (and that opening poem is INSANE – I read that as I was sitting with friends in a restaurant after the launch and knew I had to read the rest right through).

The poems in this book have a rawness but also a sense of craft, delivered with subtle wordplay but without being pretentious.  They are vulnerable and self aware but without trying too hard, conscious without being preachy. And whatever form the individual poem takes, all are written with a clarity that, in my opinion, always exists with the very best writers who have something truthful to say about human nature.

I really, really rate this collection. Very much. And wouldn’t be suprised if it turns out to be the best collection put out this year. It’s fantastic and Casey should be incredibly proud.’

Adjusted by Casey Bailey

Leon knows what he’s talking about. As programmer and host of Howl, he’s seen it all and has an instinct for sniffing out the best spoken word poetry around. If Leon had written this about anything I’d done (he hasn’t, although he’s pretty complementary about Verve Poetry Festival) I’d have been OVER THE MOON!!!

It was great for me to read what Leon said, because Casey’s was the book that started it all – the first collection I had in my hand, the first one – along with Amerah Saleh’s I Am Not From Here – to feature guest poets in the back and at the launch. It is a book with so much heart and soul that it knocks you skidding sideways, and

you wonder how poems that contain so much can be so beautifully controlled. It is a book that, in my opinion, you NEED to read.

We’ve been talking a lot recently about books that we’ve got coming up at Verve Poetry Press. We have a storming Autumn coming down the line, with super names who we’re bowled over want to work with us – Luke Kennard, Matt Abbott, Jenna Clake, POLARBEAR!  But at the heart of what we do are our debut collections from local poets with things to say and colourful ways of saying them. These are the books that matter. Bennett’s Hill Blues by Leon Priestnall matters – Leon is a glorious poet as well as programmer and host. AND Adjusted by Casey Bailey matters. Take a look. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂


 ‘I can’t recommend Adjusted enough! Stunning, honest, achingly gorgeous   work.’  –  Bobby Parker

 ‘Adjusted is a brave, full-bodied, sweet textured first collection.’ – Roy McFarlane

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Luke Kennard, Rupinder Kaur, Nafeesa Hamid, Lunar Poetry Podcasts, Matt Abbott, Jenna Clake, Hannah Swings, Polarbear

Well we told you we had some exciting plans to announce for the coming Autumn, didn’t we? The press is tramping on wonderfully, and is developing new strands as it goes. Let us explain…

Our DEBUT COLLECTIONS SERIES continues apace this Autumn. Following on from super Spring debut’s by press co-founder Amerah Saleh as well as Casey Bailey and Leon Priestnall, this series, featuring young and exciting poets local to Birmingham continues to grow and delight from September onwards. This project sits at the heart of the press. It is our reason for being, and we will always be heavily focussed on this important work. Which is why, coming this Autumn, we   are looking forward to publishing Rooh by Rupinder Kaur, Besharam by Nafeesa Hamid, and nearer Christmas, as yet untitled debut collections by Kamil Mahmood & Hannah Swings. Both Rooh and Besharam are available to read  about and pre-order on our website HERE. Kamil & Hannah’s books remain shrouded in secrecy for a little longer, but we know they will be incredible!

Rooh by Rupinder Kaur
Besharam by Nafeesa Hamid

But through our close links with Verve Poetry Festival, we have also started to bump into other opportunities to get things into print that need and deserve to be read, and a couple of these are coming this Autumn too.

Two Little Ducks by Matt Abbott

MATT ABBOTT has always been a big supporter of our festival, and produced an excellent showcase for us at Verve 18 under the banner of his NYMPHS & THUGS spoken word record label. Meanwhile, his one man poetry show – Two Little Ducks – has been developing into a storming performance piece at Edinburgh and elsewhere, and this Autumn, Matt is embarking on a 22 date tour of the UK with his show. You can read more about this HERE. But suffice to say, when the opportunity arose to put this wonderful piece into book form along with a fair few individual poems that Matt has written over the same period we knew we had little choice. We are thrilled to be publishing Two Little 

Duckss on National Poetry Day (Oct 4th 2018) and on the day after that, Matt will be launching both the tour and his book at Waterstones in Birmingham. You can get your tickets HERE.

Similarly, David and Lizzie Turner have been an important part of Verve Poetry Festival since it started. Like Verve, their series of podcast interviews – LUNAR POETRY PODCASTS – which is beginning to get the audiences it deserves, promotes poetry as a broad church that should be celebrated for all it’s many and varied forms, and they have featured some of the key names in UK contemporary poetry, without limiting themselves to the poetry mainstream. To celebrate their fourth year, we are helping them publish ‘Why Poetry? – The Lunar Poetry Podcasts Anthology’. And what an anthology it is – featuring poems from a large selection of the poets they have featured…

'Why Poetry?' by Lunar Poetry Podcasts

from Helen Mort to Kim Moore, from Jane Yeh to Mary-Jean Chan, from Melissa Lee-Houghton to Luke Kennard, from Susannah Dickey to Travis Alabanzer and everywhere in between. The anthology also featured extracts from each poets’ interview. The whole makes for a wonderful and thought provoking engagement with poetry both as form and as performance. This anthology will be published on Sep 27 2018 – watch our for Lunar Poetry’s launches around that date.

This Autumn we will also be launching our NEW EXPERIMENTAL PAMPHLET SERIES. This series will offer opportunities for poets – either local or friends of Verve festival – who perhaps already have collections, to do something a little different, or perhaps to work with someone on a joint project. Our pamphlets   will be printed locally, will be lovely to hold and look at and will be limited to  only 250 copies. Once they are gone, they are gone!

Tuffle Hound - Luke Kennard

We are absolutely bowled over to be able to announce that kicking off the pamphlet series will be LUKE KENNARD’sfirst pamphlet since 2012 – Truffle Hound. More resolutely prose than any of his previous books of poetry, here Luke allows his childhood (imagined or otherwise) to flood into the foreground, while his present (factual or fake news) distorts and fractures as if his life were being directed by David Lynch and Terry Gilliam and neither could agree whether horror or comedy should dominate. Dogs, cigarettes, children and pills shouldn’t really be permitted to mix should they? Here they are a heady mixture indeed!

Luke’s pamphlet drops on Sep 6, and will be followed nearer Christmas by two more! One from recently crowned Eric Gregory poet JENNA CLAKE, who’s debut collection, FORTUNE COOKIE has already been greeted with such acclaim. And one from the wonderful JASMINE GARDOSI! Jasmine’s will be her first ever book, can you believe, and will be amazing! 🙂

                         STILL READING? Good – because lastly, and quite possibly           mostly, the best news of all!

Sometimes (we hope often) a poet of note will give us some of his poems to publish just because they like us, or because we are small and in Birmingham, or just because. And we will be happy and honoured to put them in a book because not only are the poems amazing, but they are rooted firmly in the city we love – are, in fact, almost a love letter to the city itself.


POLARBEAR’S ‘SECOND CITY TRILOGY’ is an excellent example of this. Containing three long poems – ‘If I Cover My Nose, You Can’t See Me’, ‘Old Me’ and ‘Return’ – that are close to Steven ‘Polarbear’ Camden’s heart, taken together these performance pieces stack up to become the poet’s love song to the city. It is a city that the direction of his life has taken him away from, but where he’s always happy to return. As the poems progress they move too, from simple spoken word piece to fully fledged dramatic work. We are thrilled to be able to bring them to you on Nov 29!

Steven 'Polarbear' Camden

SO there you have it! Our Autumn list! We are thrilled with the quality of it, the variety of it, but mostly with the way that, while it is changing, it is still resolutely US!
We hope you agree and are as excited as we are! 🙂

OUR LAST AND FINAL ANNOUNCEMENT for now is a hold the date announcement…


HOLD THIS DATE - 30/11/18!!!!!!

Most of you will already know how good at performing Verve Poetry Press poets are! So on 30/11/18 you are in for a real treat. On this date, OUR FIRST ANNIVERSARY END OF YEAR EARLY CHRISTMAS BASH will take place in the Glee Club Studio on Hurst St, Birmingham. And will feature EVERY SINGLE POET THAT WE HAVE PUBLISHED OR WILL PUBLISH THIS YEAR!!! We are limited to 130 tickets for this venue and they will absolutely sell out. So please don’t be late. When the tickets go on sale (mid Sept) book yours straight away. You have been warned! 🙂

Casey Bailey
Amerah Saleh
Leon Priestnall
Nafeesa Hamid

We for one can’t wait!!!

Happy Poeting! 🙂


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Rupinder Kaur

Rupinder Kaur is a Birmingham born Panjabi poet and biomedical science student with an immense love for South Asian arts. She sees writing and reading poetry as a way to liberate the soul. 

For Rupinder, writing, along with any other art form, should be azaad – free, free to express what the artist wants or needs to say, without any censorship.  Rupinder is known for speaking her mind and this is reflected in her poems.

In Rooh, her debut poetry collection, she takes us on a poetic journey that transcends borders and arbitrary boundaries.

Her work straddles English and Punjabi culture – fusing words from Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu and English. They look at love, religion, identity, politics, history, taboos, society – often questioning orthodox views, particularly around the roles that different genders are expected to adopt. Rooh has a grand scope, and stares unblinkingly at the world. It is a stunning first collection from this young, intelligent poet.

To reflect these concerns the poems in Rooh have been detatched from their own moorings, to become and single river of verse. A river that by turns widens and narrows, meanders and charges rapidly onwards, that is contained when it isn’t breaking its bounds. The poems move with the freedom that Rupinder wishes she could see in the world around her, and with this in mind this book can be read in one long sitting or can be dipped into and out of like a cold river on a hot day, as your own rooh or soul dictates.

Rupinder Kaur



o mereya jugni, jugni

o mereya jugni, jugni


jugni travels from Delhi to Amritsar

across to England


jungi; the essence of life, the spirit of life

comes inside my rooh


jugni comes and dances in my dreams

jugni makes me fly


jugni takes me across borders

taking me to Lahore


jugni removes the radcliffe line

and I see my five rivers flowing together


jugni sees me read and write poetry

jugni tells me to light the candle


jugni watches me apply kohl

jugni watches me paint my lips


jugni looks at me and smiles

jugni tells me to fall in love with myself


jugni is no kafir or fakir

jugni is azaad, jugni is azaad


and jugni makes me free

jugni sets my rooh free


the jugni becomes me…

and the jugni becomes me…


o mereya jugni, jugni…

o mereya jugni, jugni…

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Amerah Saleh launching I Am Not From Here - April 20, Waterstones Birmz.

6th June 2018 – The picture above brings back fond memories of the April launch of our first two collections for Amerah Saleh and Casey Bailey. What a night that was – 160 people crammed into Waterstones Birmz to hear seven guest poets and Amerah and Casey perform their hearts out! We’ve been overwhelmed with the support we’ve been shown since, both in our home city and beyond, and our two collections have gone down a storm! If you still haven’t got yours, you can get them here – they are both super reads!

Verve Poetry Press Logo


This month marks our half year as a working press, and what a six months it’s been. You can read our story from the beginning in our previous blog:  VPP – The Story So Far

We’ve been having a glorious time, bringing out books, signing poets, making connections, becoming the press we want to be. We’ve planned our publication schedule right through to February 2019 (when the next Verve Poetry Festival will take place, in case you didn’t know:)) We will be announcing this in full soon, and have a teaser for you at the bottom of this newsletter. We have some very exciting news up our sleeves!


June 22 2018 sees us launch our next two collections. What a pair of books they are, and what a wonderful launch night we have planned!

Click above for tickets to this wonderful event.

Leon Priestnall’s Bennetts Hill Blues is published on Thursday June 21st and will be available through all the usual channels  – our site, from Leon himself, to order from all good bookshops in store and online – from that date onwards. It is an amazing book of sharp observation, magical turns of phrase, and old fashioned sensibilities told through the eyes of a pained post-modernist. This performer of note has performed his way onto the page in great style.

Nafeesa Hamid’s Besharam is a wonderful book by a young poet writing well beyond her years. This book won’t be published until September 2018…

Cover Bennetts Hill Blues
Cover Besharam

…but will be available to purchase at the launch as well as from Nafeesa at various feature spots at spoken word events across the summer. Those who pre-order through our site this summer will also receive their book ahead of publication and postage free. It is an incredible book.

At the launch event on June 22 Leon and Nafeesa will be supported by six excellent poets each of whom have a guest poem in one the the collections. They are Yasmina Silva, Jack Crowe, Zeddie, Scarlett Ward, Mina Mekic and Bethany Slinn. Do join us if you can get to Waterstones Birmingham – it will be an ace night. Tickets available here.


You want more? So we’ve already told you about the other collections we have in the pipe line for the Autumn. Rupinder Kaur will be publishing her much awaited debut Rooh in September, followed by two as yet untitled collections from Kamil Mahmood and Hannah Swings in October and November. These debut collections by Birmingham poets are the reason for Verve Poetry Press. You will hear much more about these wonderful books soon.

But we are also branching out a little in the autumn by publishing a small number of books that relate more closely to Verve Poetry Festival – you will hear how.  AND we are launching a small experimental pamphlet strand featuring authors who already have collections out or in the works, letting their hair down in various ways. These books will be exciting and interesting and add something to our main collection strand.

As we said, you will hear more about this in our next news-letter. But to keep you entertained, and guessing, here is a little collage we have made to give you a clue as to who we will be publishing. We think we may have created a monster! 🙂


Now that you’ve found our blog, we’d love you to sign up to our mailing list – that way when our news comes out each month it will just drop into your inbox – how much easier for everyone! If you’d like to sign up you can do that here.  

Our next newsletter will contain details of ALL of our remaining publishing for the year, news of the first Verve Poetry Press Festival Showcase which is happening this Autumn, and a cover reveal for Rupinder Kaur’s Rooh. We can’t wait. We hope you can’t either!

Happy poeting!


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Nafeesa Hamid

Nafeesa Hamid

Nafeesa Hamid is a British Pakistani poet and playwright based in Birmingham. She has been writing and performing for 6 years at nights around the UK. She has featured at Outspoken (London), Poetry is Dead Good (Nottingham), Find the Right Words (Leicester) and Hit The Ode (Birmingham). She was invited to perform at TedxBrum 2016 (Power of Us).

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Nafeesa has also performed at Cheltenham and Manchester Literature Festivals as part of The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, a recent (2017) anthology publication by Saqi Books,

Nafeesa Hamid

 edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. She is an alumni of Mouthy Poets and Derby Theatre Graduate Associate Artists. She runs Twisted Tongues, an open-mic only poetry night at The Station in Kings Heath.

About Besharam: Learning that your mind and body have been taken hostage is one thing. Learning how to take them back is another. What if those that are returned are different to the ones that were lost?

Cover of Besharam

Besharam – Nafeesa Hamid’s glorious debut collection – asks this and many other questions. When does a girl become a woman? When does her world allow her to become a woman? And what kind of woman should she be? The answers aren’t readily forthcoming.

As she treads the shifting line between woman and daughter, between Pakistan and the West, between conservative Islam and liberal, Nafeesa has almost had to find a new language to try to communicate the difficulties of her situation. And what a language! At times hard and pointed, at other times wonderfully and colourfully evocative, erupting with 

femininity, empowerment and rebellion. It is this language that makes Besharam such a pleasure to read in spite of the pain it contains – Besharam really is a magical first book of poetry

About Nafeesa and Besharam … 

‘Besharam is an outstanding collection from Nafeesa… I think her poems are very special.’ – Imtiaz Dharker

‘Love this collection and finding it deeply affecting. The fearlessness is astonishing. Bravo!’ – Roz Goddard

‘One of the best readings we’ve ever had in the shop challenging sexism, domestic violence and claiming autonomy for woman.’ Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottm.

‘I highly, highly recommend pre-ordering [Nafeesa’s] first book of poetry – Besharam – as this writer resonates on a whole other level.’ – Pam Reader

‘Yesterday I read and was deeply moved by NafeesaHamid’s debut, Besharam. Thank you Nafeesa for articulating so deftly and elegantly such complex material. I know I’ll return to this book often. And big up VervePoetryPresS for publishing this important work.’ – Ruby Robinson

‘You know those times you pick up a poetry collection and read right the way through because every page is a grenade? … Besharam is powerful, rebellious, tender and bold. I could not put this ‘woman’ down.’ – Hafsah Aneela Bashir

‘I love Nafeesa’s vibrant, original and refreshingly original poems.’ – Josephine Corcoran

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Leon Priestnall

Leon Priestnall is a Poet based in Birmingham. He has performed his poems up and down the country, headlining at The Door in the Birmingham Rep and performing spontaneous verse on BBC Radio. He is also host and founder of Birmingham spoken word night Howl. Bennetts Hill Blues is his first collection of Poetry.

Leon Priestnall Close-Up

ABOUT BENNETTS HILL BLUES: The Leon we meet in this debut collection is something quite rare on the Spoken Word circuit – a romantic, a lost soul, with so few of the right answers and so many of the wrong ones. His poems are full of questions, not solutions, or even a step further back from that – are asking the question of what questions to ask. In his work, he isn’t setting himself up as any kind of answer – he is as wrong as he is right, behaves badly as often as correctly. Often too confused to be able to move – beyond lighting another cigarette, taking another drink, running for the door – or speak. Often trapped inside the circle of his thoughts, which are a riot of possibilities and recriminations, what-ifs and why-nots.

Cover of Bennetts Hill Blues

That he is out and trying to engage at all feels like some kind of triumph. And he is out, in the locked throng of weekend bar-life, amidst the shouts and the laughter, the thrum of music, the night-life characters that appear and disappear like ghost-train skeletons, there as large and loud as life, until they are suddenly gone. He is out, trying to join in somehow. Either that or trying to forget.

Leon on the Mic
Leon in full flow

The other triumph is the language and energy of these hopeful no-hope poems. The lines sparkle like sharpened knives under the reflected light of glitterballs. From Johnny, the ‘flat out scoundrel rat/ with a scowl, prowling round your council flats,’ to Taxi Girl; ‘a rock n’ roll Marilyn Monroe … waiting for a sunrise myth-busting insomniac,’ – from ‘the narcissistic weight of a post-modern baby Hitler with a twitter’ to Leon himself, wishing he ‘was unhurried, mild, unafraid, perhaps colder, not so wild,’ myriad characters are brought to life with single breath-taking phrases, before the night, still young, but grown oh – so old, takes them off on their way again.

The upshot of all this is a glowing collection of wild and passionate verse, full of rhythm and urgency, from a poet with a glorious way with words. Leon is such an incredible performer – all heart and agitation and countless voices – the worry was always that we would struggle to stick him to the page. This book puts those worries well and truly to bed. Hopefully they won’t ‘wake up the following morning/ next to some pricky pick up artist/ who knew how to seduce his way/ into [their] low self esteem…’ – We are very proud of this first collection from Leon.

Leon’s performance style needs to be seen to be believed. Described by Jasmine Gardosi as ‘a one-of-a-kind performer … a master of onstage rhythm and personality,’ the video below will give you an idea of how he appears on stage.

SAMPLE POEM : Simple And Plain

Whilst others are taking flight
and not returning home.
I’m torn between writing a treatise of great philosophical insight
or a cliché break up poem.

Whilst others are breaking the mold,
taking hold of art
and redesigning it in their name,
I’m simple and plain –
still startled by a song lyric that mentions rain.

As the political order collapses
beneath the narcissistic weight
of a post modern baby Hitler with a twitter –
the world ending
not with a bang or a whimper
but with a hipsters ironic wink –
I just sit and think
about how I have too much time to sit and think.

Jealousies, ambitions, decisions, indecision,
hits and misses, misses the point.

Aching joints, broken hearts,
taking the piss, art,
kisses, is’s and ought’s.
I find a momentary spark,
upon giving up the pursuit
of finding the reality behind my thoughts.

I was looking but couldn’t find it.
I’m incredibly simple minded
and seemingly out to self destruct,
allowing myself to be bothered
by the actions of personas
we knowingly or unknowingly construct.

I wish I was unhurried, mild
unafraid, perhaps colder, not so wild.

Instead I’m thirty years old and still a bullied child.

Speaking philosophical wisdom
as I watch the codeine fizzle
but I like that I’m still startled
by a song lyric that mentions drizzle.

Should I write an essay of momentary importance
as if there’s nothing else to do?
Or should we discover whether I
is just another name for you?

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Amerah Saleh

Amerah is a British Yemeni poet from Birmingham. She has been writing and performing for 10 years across spoken word and theatre. She has taken her poetry all around the world to share messages with young people. She is a Board Member at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Co-founder of Verve Poetry Press and a Producer at Free Radical as part of The Beatfreeks Collective.

Amerah is well known in Birmingham as one who encourages and develops a love of poetry and its possibilities in young people. She has had a massive impact on the local scene.

Did you know? Amerah recently performed at The Birmingham Commonwealth Games Handover Ceremony on Sunday April 15 2018 which was broadcast live to the world!

I Am Not From Here has been a long time coming. It is a collection that twists and turns through the complexities of being Birmingham born but of Yemeni decent and culture; of being Muslim in a city of mixed faiths and in a country of little faith; of spending time in Yemen only to find that as a result you are refused entry to other countries and have forgotten how to live in yours; of losing loved ones too young (and when are we ever old enough for that?); of being split between the language and words of two tongues, and often finding that neither has the words you need; of facing hatred for acts that were none of your doing.

This book contains and engages with all this. That it doesn’t burst is down to the unique and unifying voice of Amerah’s poetry. Brimming with emotion, anger, frustration, grief and love – the beauty of the imagery, the often breath-taking turns of phrase, the soaring imagination, the gently woven structure, all help to turn the torments and confusion of a fractured experience into something unique and compelling. Amerah, against so many odds, has achieved something whole here – a complete and vibrant piece of work.

Amerah is a wonderful performer – catch her live if you can. This super video of her wonderful poem Fire-Eating Butterflies, gives you an idea. Filmed by the Beatfreeks Collective.


TWITTER: @Voiceofthepoets

INSTAGRAM: voiceofthepoets

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Casey Bailey

Casey Bailey is a writer, poet, spoken word performer, rapper and secondary school senior leader, born and raised in Nechells, Birmingham. He provides social commentary and analysis through his poetry, lyrics and articles.

In the last year Casey has been commissioned nationally, by the Local Government Association and locally, by the Birmingham Civic Society. Casey’s work as a writer has been recognised by Writing West Midlands who have offered him a place on the prestigious ‘Room 204’ project. Casey’s contribution as a writer, as an educator and dedicated member of his community have been recognised by the Birmingham Mail’s ‘Birmingham Live’, leading to him being named as one of Birmingham’s ’30 under 30’ of 2018.

Casey released the short poetry collection Waiting At Bloomsbury Park with Big White Shed in 2017.

Did you know? Casey recently had two videos of his work filmed and broadcast by BBC3, each amassing over 200,000 views on Facebook.

Order Adjusted here...

About Adjusted: It seems like Casey has been adjusting all his life. Adapting to the harsh realities of his Nechells upbringing – the drugs, the weapons, the lost friends, the lost hope. Finding ways to assimilate and swallow injustices and ways of being treated that no-one should have to tolerate. Finding a way to make meaning of his life – a way to contribute. And to some extent, he succeeded. He made the moves he needed to make and began to find his place. And then 2017 happened – when within a year he lost his mother and became a father and was forced to deal with extreme loss and joy, pride and pain, as life-sized as they get and all at the same time.

Adjusted is about Casey’s journey, and is an attempt to tell the story of this last tumultuous year, when sky-high highs and lows as low as ocean beds combined to form something else entirely; when a whole new raft of adjustments, bigger than any he’d made before, were asking to happen.

You can find lots of Casey’s videos on YouTube and at his website. Here is one of our favourites, filmed as part of the Black Country Broadsheet project being organised by Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists.



It’s June 13th 2017
tomorrow is my Dad’s birthday
today you are 4 weeks old.
I reflect on the lessons
he taught me,
consider how I’ll share them,
do I need to share them?
Will you need to hear
about oppression and inequality?
Will it help you?

I am fighting to build
you a future that rises above
the issues of my childhood.
I don’t know if you’ll need
to appreciate the struggles
that I have seen. Why show
you then? Why protect you
from suffering just to introduce
you to it anyway? Do you need
to know? Do I need to tell you?

Is it possible to eradicate
the inequalities of society?
Is it possible to make them

In 12 hours a fire will start
at Grenfell tower.
In 12 hours a flame
and combustible cladding
will answer my questions.



TWITTER: @MrCaseyBailey



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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…


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.  

Cover of Wild Dreams & Louder Voices
Cover of It All Radiates Outwards

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.


Hands Signing A Contract

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!


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. 

Cover of I Am Not From Here
Cover of Adjusted.

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.

Casey And Amerah With Books


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. 

Shot of Website Home Page

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 🙂

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Launching the Verve Poetry Press [Historical]

We have been stunned at how popular Verve Poetry Festival has been and how happy people have been with our full spectrum of poetry approach, where beginners can rub shoulders with top name poets, where spoken word and page poets appear together, where audiences and cultures mix and engage with each other.

However, we have always also been determined to find ways to help bring the wonderful poetry scene we have here in the West Midlands to people’s notice, and this we have discovered is difficult for a festival on its own to achieve. We wanted to see if we could help give some of the excellent local poets a hand-up – something to show the world and help them spread their message. It soon became clear to us how that might happen.



Verve Poetry Festival now has a sister press: The Verve Poetry Press. It launched 8th February and has an ambitious vision — to publish wonderful, lively, challenging poetry that’s going to tear up assumptions and change the poetry world. All of the Verve fun, originality, and excitement can now be found in printed form.  Read more on about the Press and what to expect in the following blog. 

Our full 2018 and 2019 stable to be announced soon!