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Clive Birnie

Clive Birnie is a poet and artist who works in both text and visual media. He finds inspiration at a place where poetry and art collide into something which gets called text-based-art but sometimes he types up the results as text only poems such as those included in his wonderful Verve Poetry Press pamphlet Palimpsest. Clive is also owner and editor in chief at Burning Eye Books.

He was the Hashtag# poet in residence at the StAnza International Poetry Festival in 2016, has exhibited work at the Saatchi backed The Other Art Fair, the Evolver Prize Exhibition, at Spike Island and in Millennium Square, Bristol. Palimpsest is the fourth in a series of experimental poetry sequences following Terminal Insemination Art (Silkworms Ink 2011), Cutting Up the Economist (Burning Eye 2014) and Hashtag# Poetry (Burning Eye 2016).

Clive’s pamphlet Palimpsest explores a near future where the banal merges with the bizarre, truth and fiction blur and digital and analogue collide. These are poems that are made rather than written in the conventional sense.

Poems that are built from scraps of text appropriated from magazines, junk mail, ephemera; erased, redacted, cut up and overwritten with original lines to create palimpsests. The title is thus both a creative technique revealed in the visible lines of construction and an eponymous anti-superhero in whose steps we follow as she emerges from a collage of fractured narratives and cinematic dispatches from a dark and murderous hinterland. This is a truly exceptional piece of work and well worth investigating.

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Louise Fazackerley

Louise Fazackerley is a poet from the exotic Northern streets of Orwell’s Wigan.  In performance she explores the synergy between poetry and movement.  Her socially conscious writing makes the ugly beautiful and the mundane fantastical.

Winner of the BBC Radio New voices award, Louise is signed to Nymphs & Thugs spoken word label where she released two audio books- Love Is A Battlefield and Bird St.  Her collection The Lolitas is the subject of ‘Love Is A Rebellious Bird’ an installation and film work by international artists AL + AL.   She recently supported punk poet legend Dr. John Cooper Clarke on his sold-out tour.  

Louise is a director at Write Out Loud, a national organisation supporting grass roots poetry and currently poet-in-residence at Lily Lane Primary School.

She is a highly experienced workshop leader, facilitating in education, prison and community settings.   You may have seen or heard her on BBC 1, BBC Radio 3,4,5 or read her blog in The Guardian Northerner.

 

‘A great performer’  Will Self

‘A voice that tingles with promise’  Ian McMillan

‘I wish I’d discovered her 5 years ago.  I love her and you will too.’  John Cooper Clarke

The Lolitas is an extraordinary first collection. 

It is a genre distorting, disconcerting, dystopia of daughters, single parenting, love and abuse.  From the lyric tenderness of the first kiss, to a place where poetry borders with reportage and records the experience of working with groomed girls in the care system.  

Darkly humorous, the work weaves working class narratives of fiction, fact and foretelling, in an intensely readable, page-turning glut of the gamine.        

The collection is in part a response to Nabokov’s Lolita,  a response to the #metoo movement, and includes poems that explore the story of Shamina Begum, the Jeffrey Epstein scandal and how Japan treats teenage girls. It is – a powerful addition to the growing canon of #MeToo literature.

Also in BREAKING NEWS Verve Poetry Press are proud to be bringing out Louise’s pamphlet ‘The Uniform Factory’ this Autumn. It is based on her BBC Radio Three Verve New Voices show ‘Love is a Battlefield’ which is already out on audio with the ace Nymphs & Thugs. This exciting work will be published very early in September 2020 and will be available for pre-order here very soon. (Louise therefore becomes the first poet to release a second book with Verve Poetry Press!) Watch this space, and meanwhile enjoy the extracted poem featured below.

Excerpt from ‘Remembrance Someday’ in The Uniform Factory

 

The poppy, dropped on blue lino

at the side of the bath.

 

A prick of the pin, a rake of the knife,

that plastic green stem is whirring round

and round, tickticktick,, twitching, defibrillating,

the raw red paper of helicopter blades

begin to hum and roar- men scream in relief,

an hours wait, the morphine’s wearing off,

this man, this boy is still alive, handover to the doctors,

they can fly away without jumping

 

from the white of the bath like the white of the

ward like the white of the eyes of one, two,

one, two, one, two, one, two, three boys

who you saved, who were supposed to survive,

like the white of the poppy the pacifist wears

like the white of your anger, like the white

shrouds of Afghan dead, like the dirty, white

of my wedding vows, like the white teeth

of Azad, haggling for chickens,

like the white of the fallen feathers, like the

white of divorce papers in the shredder,

like the white of the skirting boards

you scrub and scrub, like the white of the

toothpaste on your daughter’s cheek

like the white bone of the domino

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Spoz

SPOZ also goes by the longer name of Giovanni Esposito. He is an award winning performance poet, singer / songwriter, film maker, playwright and is the poet-in-residence at Birmingham City FC. He has been seen on BBC and Central Television, has written for and been heard on BBC Radio Four, Radio Five Live, Radio West Midlands, Radio Coventry & Warwickshire and Capital Gold.

SPOZ…has performed at the Glastonbury Festival, Shambala Festival, Larmer Tree Festival, Cheltenham Literature Festival, 

Oxford Literature Festival, Warwick Words Festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Wenlock Poetry Festival and Verve Festival of Poetry & Spoken Word.

“Spoz takes run-of-the-mill and real life scenarios, beats them with a blunt instrument and flushes them down the bog of the spoken word. Roger McGough meets Billy Connolly” – Warwick Words Festival.

Spoz’s poetry in Sometimes Angry is bold and direct and packs a punch. His work oozes life as he mixes sometimes humour and sometimes anger to great effect. His words mean something and have nothing to hide. And they strive to find the way towards something better. Spoz is an incredible performer but his words deserve to be read and savoured and pondered upon. This collection contains both recent and more distant work from a poet who will touch a million hearts and minds.

He has released two poetry collections for children. “The Day the Earth Grew Hair … and Other Stuff” 

and “Spoz’s Shorts and the Occasional Long One”. Check out his website https://spoz.co

‘Spoz’s work has spikey hair, carries a megaphone and wears a f**k the system T-shirt. And just like Spoz himself, beneath the spikes and the noise, inside it, there sits a thumping heart full of a drive and passion big enough to try and change the world.’ – Steven Camden AKA Polarbear

No Whites, No Cats, No English

No pussyfooting.

Get that sign up because you’re entitled to it,

Confidence in abundance … like Nike said … just do it!

But with a sense of arrogant superiority.

Self is your priority, numero uno, feline supremo,

No pink eyes on this albino!

Bad ass and biased like a Bond villain’s pet,

You just haven’t worked that bit out yet.

 

Making scents to erect an imagined border,

Top of the pecking order

And prepared to hissy fit about it,

Prepared to kick up shit about it,

Spit a sparrow’s feathers out and shout, there is no doubt about it,

Then bring the dead bird back through the catflap,

As, perhaps, some kind of a thoughtful gift?

Or just another sign that you find it hard to coexist.

Less stubborn furballs … more Joseph Goebels.

 

You shat upon your own front door mat,

Like the cat that got the cream and didn’t want to share,

You still believe nostalgia’s dream

Of when you thought you were the cat’s whiskers,

Yet conveniently forget the blisters on the fingers

That you stepped on to make your way.

You proudly purr about saving the day …

You know? The one when the vermin came?

You saw them off, not once, but twice!

No room for the disease carried by these despicable mice.

 

But you were already infected.

Needed neutering and worming

And now the feral pussies are running riot,

While the Reece Moggies are giving you ‘catnip’ to sniff on the quiet.

 

They say that pride comes before a fall, in which case,

You must have been queuing up at Beachy Head for a while now

And I’m not entirely sure how

You’ve not been splattered on the rocks below,

Though, you always land on your feet so the stories go.

 

And is it true that you have nine lives?

Eight more than most before you’re toast,

Though even then, you’ll have 101 uses,

So there’ll be no excuses on making a proper contribution to society.

I have it on good authority

(Well, a novelty book by Simon Bond, really),

That, as a stiff, ex-kitty,

Your pencil sharpening skills are a little bit … shitty.

 

So, instead of soiling our city

With the crap your noisy neighbour feeds you,

Use the litter tray … and bury those dirty deeds dude.

Because that’s the dirt that breeds you,

That’s the dirt that bleeds through,

That’s the dirt that needs to be nurtured from your nature

Until the haters concede to celebrating all species,

Don’t spread your toxic faeces

Pick up the pieces in this natural habitat

Because nobody should pamper a poisonous pussycat.

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Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is Muslim (someone who surrenders to the will of Allah), an educator, writer and spoken-word poet. She interrogates narratives around race/ism, Islamophobia, gender, feminism, state violence and decoloniality in Britain. She is the founder and author of the critical and educative blog www.thebrownhijabi.com, and co-author of A FLY Girl’s Guide to University: Being a Woman of Colour at Cambridge and Other Institutions of Power and Elitism (Verve, 2019). With a background studying History and 

…Postcolonial Studies, as well as a wider education from her mother and grandmother’s wisdoms, the epistemology of Islam, and work of women of colour and anti-systemic thinkers from across the world, Suhaiymah’s poetry is unapologetically political and deliberately unsettling. She isn’t interested in your guesses or analyses.

Suhaiymah’s poetry has over two million online views and since going viral as runner-up of the 2017 Roundhouse National Slam with her poem, This Is Not a Humanising Poem, she has performed on BBC Radio stations, at music festivals, in the US against Californian slam poets, across British Universities, on Sky TV, ITV, the Islam channel, Las Vegas, TEDxes, London poetry nights, mosques, protests outside the Home Office and in New York, Berlin, and Da Poetry Lounge in Los Angeles.

Postcolonial Banter is Suhaiymah’s debut collection. It features some of her most well-known and widely performed poems as well as some never-seen-before material. Her words are a disruption of comfort, a call to action, a redistribution of knowledge and an outpouring of dissent.

Whilst enraged and devastated by the world she finds herself in, in many ways that world is also the normalized and everyday reality of her life. Hence, whilst political and complex in nature, her poetry is also just the reality of life for her and others like her. 

Life in a world where structural violence is rife makes it a shared knowledge, and sometimes, when possible, that shared knowledge is the subversive in-joke, the bonding glance of solidarity, or the passing nod of affection used by those who know it to survive those structures themselves. This collection is first and foremostly for them.

Ranging from critiquing racism, systemic Islamophobia, the function of the nation-state and rejecting secularist visions of identity, to reflecting on the difficulty of writing and penning responses to conversations she wishes she’d had; Suhaiymah’s debut collection is ready and raring to enter the world. الله أكبر

Postcolonial Banter is a Verve Poetry Press bestselling title having been reprinted twice inside the first month of publication.

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Scarlett Ward

Scarlett Ward is an incredible young West Midlands poet as comfortable on the page as in performance, with a real ear for language and an imagination to match. Her debut collection, created with help and advice from Liz Berrry and others, doesn’t disappoint, as it takes its Insta-concerns (Scarlett has 10k+ followers) of depression, insecurity, mental ill-health and the deep and powerful ache of a love found, and turns them in to quite startling poetry -at times as light as petals, at others as heavy and violent as a hob nail boot. Read, gasp, enjoy.

 ache is a breathtaking collection of healing and rebirth. Scarlett writes in away that makes me want to live more deeply” – Chloe Frayne.

Scarlett’s work has recently featured in anthologies from Hedgehog Poetry, Fishbowl Publishing and Fly on the Wall Press. Her poem, X, featured inside, was included in the first Verve Poetry Press Anthology, Wild Dreams and Louder Voices – The Poetry Jam Anthology edited by Anisa Haghdadi. Her poem Culling Season, also included here and featured below, was short-listed in the Verve Poetry Festival Competition on theme of Community judged by Joelle Taylor and features in the accompanying anthology Closed Gates and Open ArmsAche is a Verve Poetry Press bestselling title. 

Sample Poem: Culling season

Somewhere in a town that is best known
for how deep it has dug beneath itself,
where the addresses are earthy like “May Dene” and “Old Fallow”,
and roads fling themselves lethargically around woodland bends,
a pot hole rips the gut out of an exhaust on an accelerating Ford
with all the viciousness of antlers on bark. After all, it is rutting season,
and it’s all I can think of lately; feuding stags butting skulls,
concrete tearing out metal piping,
and the way my neighbour boasted to me this morning
of the fawn he shot through the eye socket

 

Get in touch with Scarlett on…

Twitter: @scarlettwith2ts

Instagram: @scarlett.ward

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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.

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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:

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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

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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

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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