For the first time in our short history, prize-winning Birmingham based indie Verve Poetry Press has opened a month long submissions window to find a limited number of pamphlet and collection manuscripts. Those that are successful will either be published in 2021 or early in our 2022 season.
What are we looking for?
We are looking for full collection* length manuscripts from poets who are yet to publish other than in magazine or pamphlet form. And we are after pamphlet* length works to add to our Michael Marks Publishers Award winning series. Manuscripts should be complete although we will consider high quality early drafts.
When would we like them?
Our month-long submissions window opened at 00:01 on Sunday 17th May 2020 and will close at Midnight on Saturday 20th June. No submissions (unless invited) will be considered outside of the submissions window.
How would we like them?
Manuscripts should be attached to your application email as a separate file on either Word or PDF. The file should be titled with both your name and the title of the manuscript and whether it is a collection or a pamphlet submission like so: AuthorName_TitleOfManuscript_CollectionOrPamphlet. Send your submission to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What would we like with them?
We would like your manuscript to be accompanied by a one page document detailing your poetic journey so far – favourite poetry books read, favourite poetry performers watched, favourite poetry events attended actually or remotely – (you should have answers for all of these) – alongside a full list of workshops attended, publishing history, readings given – (it matters less if you don’t have answers for all of these). And finally details of the ambitions you have for the book you hope to make and what things you intend to do personally, outside of submitting to Verve, to help it reach a wide audience. One page is the maximum allowed for this part of the submission.
PLEASE NOTE: Those with difficulties accessing physical poetry books, performances and workshops due to disabilities or limited incomes can and should absolutely still please apply. Tell us instead about online readings and events you have attended and enjoyed and which of the mountains of free online poems you have read, loved and been influenced by.
What kind of things do we like?
If you know us at all, you will know the answer to this. Like our sister festival, we have a love and respect for poetry in all its forms and from all sources. We love poetry designed for the page that is read-out-able and poetry designed to perform that is readable in book form. We love poetry shows, long narrative poems, short quirky poems, one poem manuscripts, seventy poem manuscripts, dramatic poems, quiet poems, free-form poems, fully formed poems, heavily edited poems, poems written in one go. But they must be excellent, generous, open-minded, ambitious and informed. We not only welcome but would encourage submissions from poets who identify as BAME and/or LGBTQ+. And we are also keen to see manuscripts that involve more than one language or which are bi-lingual.
What don’t we mind?
We don’t mind if you submit titles already submitted elsewhere – but do tell us if they are successful and you need to withdraw your submission with us.
What we will and won’t do for you
There is no charge to submit to Verve Poetry Press during this window. Similarly we do not insist that you buy a book from our website before submitting (although we truly hope you will have already or will do soon).
Also those who are chosen to publish with us won’t be charged for the privilege. Instead, they will be paid royalties on the books we sell and have the opportunity to buy copies at a deep discount to sell themselves. But all that is for later once this process is over.
We will give you a provisional answer on the success or otherwise of your submission within eight weeks of the submission window closing. Unfortunately we won’t be able to give any feedback on submissions which are unsuccessful.
If you are unsuccessful, please don’t give up on your poetry! We are very particular about what we publish and have an aesthetic that we are aiming to achieve. Your poems may well be accepted elsewhere having been unsuccessful with us. Take a breath, get some input, and carry on!
We are excited and look forward to reading your wonderful work! 🙂
*A note on Full Collections and Pamphlets
This might well be different at other presses. At Verve, our full collections start at 60 pages and can be up to double that length. While our pamphlets are generally between 22 and 32 pages long. We tend to fit 28 lines to a page on average.
A pamphlet will often but not always be on a single theme, however loose, while a collection may well fall into loosely connected sections under the umbrella of a title.
In both, you need to look beyond the individual poems and begin to think of them as a group that work together and influence each other – about the pace and movement of the whole work as well as the elements within it. Poems can be as short or as long as they need to be, but if they are all one length that might (but won’t necessarily) become irksome for the reader.