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VERVE POETRY PRESS: SIX MONTHS IN…

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

SIX MONTHS AND COUNTING

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!

BUT BEFORE THAT, WE HAVE THIS!

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.

AND THEN WHAT?

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! 🙂

WE THINK THAT’S ABOUT IT FOR NOW.

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!

VPP

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VERVE POETRY PRESS: THE STORY SO FAR…

3rd May 2018 – So, we have been SO busy since our launch in February – too busy it seems to sort out a working website, and to start blogging regularly. Well all that changes now. Here we are on a brand spanking new website (thanks to marvellous Verve friend Emma Scott) and we will be blogging and newslettering on a monthly basis from now on…

So what’s been happening? And why so busy?  Here’s why…

TWO ANTHOLOGIES LAUNCHED

February saw the first two Verve Poetry Press releases at two very special Birmingham occasions.

Wild Dreams & Louder Voices was released to tie in with the fifth anniversary celebrations of Poetry Jam – the regular open -mic only poetry event run by Verve friends Beatfreeks. Poetry Jam is absolutely one of the most important poetry nights in the city – a safe space where many of Birmingham’s best poets cut their teeth and where the poets of the future a performing RIGHT NOW! Their fifth anniversary birthday bash was held at our wonderful Town Hall and what a night it was – over 500 attended, and the quality of the poetry was sky high. What an event to launch our Poetry Jam Anthology at! The book contains poems from a broad range of local poets, all of whom have performed at Poetry Jam over the years. The contents list is a role call of poetical excellence, both realised and emerging. Names such as Jasmine Gardosi, Joe Cook, Polarbear and Spoz sit alongside names you will certainly hear from in a big way one day – Ahlaam Moledina, Yasmina Silva and Dennis Muhirwa Nkurunziza to name but three.  

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.

A HOST OF POETS SIGNED…

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!

TWO COLLECTIONS PUBLISHED

You will already know our big news! Just two weeks ago, we published and launched our two debut collections for two amazing Birmingham poets, Amerah Saleh and Casey Bailey! Press co-founder Amerah’s wonderful I Am Not From Here is as glorious as anticipated, exploring the fractured nature of her own identity and a world that, piece by piece, word by hard fought word, is only just beginning to make some kind of sense. Casey’s book, Adjusted, grapples in his trademark musical verse with becoming and losing a parent in the same year and is both a moving and uplifting delight. 

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

AND FINALLY, A WEBSITE…

We do hope you like it. It feels wonderful to finally have an online home. We have all the usual stuff – a SHOP to buy our books from, a statement of intent on our ABOUT page, a way of CONTACTing us. AND a MAILING LIST which we urge you to sign up to as this really is the best way to hear all our news and receive our special offers. On our GALLERY page you will find some pictures from Amerah and Casey’s awesome launch-night. And our EVENTS page is something we’re really proud of. Our poets are excellent performers and are out and about performing NOW! (Esp Casey, who we can’t seem to get off the stage at the moment!). If you want to catch any of them, check out our calendar. We know you won’t be disappointed. 

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.

 

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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!