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Elle Dillon-Reams

Originally from Brighton, Elle has lived in London for the last 12 years. After dabbling in various poetry nights across the UK, she won the Genesis Slam in 2019 and is going ahead to the Hammer and Tongue National Finals at The Royal Albert Hall that was slated to take place last year. In 2019 she also performed as Boiler House London’s International Women’s Day Poet. After winning the Imperial College Nature Slam in 2020 with her piece FOR FREDDY, she was then the International Women’s Day poet for Imperial College London in their 2021 celebrations, running a bespoke workshop for doctors, mathematicians and scientists. 

Her debut play HoneyBEE, a spoken word solo show, received 5 star reviews, sold out at the Brighton fringe and VAULT Festival, and won both the Three Weeks Editor’s Award and Best Newcomer from The Scotsman in Edinburgh. She wrote and recorded an original piece of poetry for ‘Experimental Words’ collaborating with Scientist Sam Gallivan launching in June 2021,

and also recently recorded her second spoken word solo show MEAT, collaborating with musicians and sound designers Porscha Present and Emer Dineen. The audio recording will be released as part of Flugelman Productions’ 6-part podcast series of plays Make Me in Summer 2021.

Elle has had several pieces published by Dear Damsels, and was last year longlisted for the Pentabus Writer-in-Residence. She has been featured on Tyrone Lewis’ Spoken Word channel Process Productions and regularly records with MuddyFeet poetry. Her favourite poets producing the works most dog-eared and well loved on her bookshelf are Ocean Vuong, Polarbear, Cecilia Knapp, Caleb Femi, Kae Tempest, and Vanessa Kissule.

She facilitates poetry and performance, direct, and mentors at several establishments in London including charity and community theatre YATI (Young Actors Theatre Islington), East 15 Acting School, and for Mountview Drama school has been commissioned to write various new pieces of Spoken Word for Generation X, an outreach project designed to engage with groups of teenagers in the Peckham Community entitled My Generation.

Maladaptive is Elle’s first collection of Poetry.


Maladaptive is about identity, wintering, womanhood, love and home. Exploring the loss of self and homesickness for that which is no longer there, grief for those gone and the rebuilding of hope and finding the light in the dark.

Whilst being a hugely honest, personal and vulnerable collection, Maladaptive is accessible, relatable and comforting. A raw exploration of mental health with a necessary, playful dose of finding comedy in unexpected places, a mindfulness in the natural world drawing on Elle’s growing up by the seaside and feeling a strong drawing to the water. And sourcing the bonds that connect us all as much more than monoliths, that which make us feel we belong.

'"Elle has a powerful grasp of language, deploying words with an often startling force - though there is gentleness here, too. There's a visceral connection to experience, with the everyday nestling up against the political and passionate. Breathtaking .'
Dan Simpson



Flecks of burning
Searching for companion galaxy
Interacting triggers black holes of
Constellations of conversations on the cusp of
She cuts off her hair, declares ballet is not for this girl
Explosion of potential leaves trail behind
Mum watches through a far away telescope
She is the astronaut of imagination
Daydreams on thumbsucks
Tumble tucks into pools outside of school playgrounds
Pounding feet of older children
Year 6 supernovas who don’t know her but show her COOL
Her territory lies in pages of stories, thrust into selecting her
Best Friend
Little cheeks erupt in apology
Flecks burning red
Her mouth clusters of dust.

'Elle is a witch, the best kind of witch, casting spells that reach deep into the souls of her readers and audiences, and pull out kindness and hope. Elle’s poetry is tender and timeless, speaking from a place of raw honesty that is so beautiful it often seems like magic .' 
Kayla Martel Feldman

Elle Dillon-Reams takes to the Genesis Grand Final stage with a powerful poem that deals with the rise of sexual assault on the tube and why feminism is so essential in the battle against such abuse. Filmed December 2019.

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Kat Lyons

‘I believe that telling stories is part of what makes us human. We tell stories to know ourselves, to share our experiences, and as a way of making and remaking our culture. Poetry exists in a continuum within that tradition alongside folksongs, punk cabaret, griots and bards, and everyone has the right to access it.’ 

Kat Lyons is a Queer Bristol-based writer, performer, workshop facilitator and creative producer whose work is grounded in everyday politics and a love of storytelling. They perform throughout the UK, were nominated for the 2022 Jerwood Poetry in Performance Award and their collaborative animated poetry film Duvet Days was selected as part of the official program at ZEBRA Poetry Film Festival 2021.

Kat is currently touring their debut solo show Dry Season, a spoken word theatre show exploring gender, age and menopause. Their debut poetry collection is forthcoming in Feb 2022 from Verve Poetry Press.

Kat is passionate about using the power of stories to re/connect people to themselves, each other and their environment.


Kat Lyons traces lines of grief, resilience and r/age with a storyteller’s sensibility and a lyrical touch. Exploring bereavement, familial relationships, ecological crisis, and Queer life and identity, Love Beneath the Nails scratches at layers of regret, reminiscence and self-delusion to reveal the beauty in the mundane.

By turns tender, visceral and fierce, these poems grip your hand and pull you into a world of acutely observed human frailties with surreal notes; where polar bears work the night shift, Grief eats toast on the sofa, and Shakespeare’s Beatrice defends her cannibalistic choices.

 'In writing that is cinematic and intimate Lyons balances deftly on the bridge between what is spoken and what finds life on the page. Experimental and innovative this debut collection adventures across a range of poetics including two heartbreaking sets of cantos circling grief and sexual terrorism. Beautiful.'
Joelle Taylor


When Eve Met Isaac

they talked about apples, and the mechanics of falling.  
examine the sheen on the ruddy skin, how it calls

your fingers, adjust your grip, they bruise easily.
their energy cannot be destroyed, but look 

what happens when they tumble
how they lie spread, smashed into the dirt.

deflect the force, slap the ground and roll.
she learnt that in her self-

defense class. ignore the hiss. how they suck  
their teeth at your body.

blame it on the hothouse weather.
walled gardens are always microclimates.

she packed her knowledge and left. he stayed
beneath the tree. the apples

cradled their maggots, swayed in the wind
waited for their chance.

'Kat is a brilliant and charismatic performer. Their control of movement and voice gives their work a physicality combined with a subtlety unusual in spoken word. Their writing is sharp, lyrical, well-observed and economical.'
Tom Sastry


Lyons’ debut spoken word show, Dry Season, is not only an unflinching examination of menopausal chaos, but also a sharp look at societal expectations of age and gender. 

Dry Season interweaves music, movement and medical texts with original poetry and animation. Using the role of women in fairytales as a starting point, Kat takes the audience on a journey through a chaotic year of hormone issues, NHS visits and unexpected connections.

'Kat's unapologetic words deliver eloquent punches, their poetry challenging audiences to look them straight in the eyes and meet them for who they are. Kat's performance is compelling and magnetic.'
Anita Kelly

Created as a collaboration between Kat and Edalia Day, Duvet Days is a short animated poetry film and part of Kat’s ‘Dry Season’.

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Imogen Stirling

‘Writing the beautiful, flawed characters of Love The Sinner was a comfort during the isolated times of the pandemic. Following their entangled lives reminded me of the joys of community and cities, with the collection ultimately being a celebration of all it means to be human.’

Imogen Stirling is a Glasgow-based artist. She is a performance poet, theatre-maker, musician, writer and facilitator. She was the inaugural Writer-in-Residence for Paisley Book Festival 2021, is currently leading on Wigtown Book Festival’s youth programme and features as a writer/performer on BAFTA-winning Sky Arts documentary, Life & Rhymes, hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah. Imogen is a highly regarded artist who has performed her work widely throughout the UK and abroad (inc. BBC, Latitude Festival, Lindisfarne Festival, Neu! Reekie!, Sofar Sounds). Imogen is best recognised for her five-star debut collection and show #Hypocrisy which sold out at Edinburgh and Prague Fringe Festivals (Speculative Books, 2019) and was a participant of the BBC Words First talent development scheme (BBC Radio 1Xtra, BBC Asian Network and BBC Contains Strong Language). 

She was awarded ‘Artist of the Year 2021’ (Scottish Emerging Theatre Awards/National Theatre of Scotland), is part of the Convergence 2022 screenwriting cohort and is co-founder of Siren Theatre Company (Tron Theatre, Ayr Gaiety). Imogen’s work has been described as ‘life-affirming artistry’ (Everything Theatre) and ‘a tonic for the tribal times we live in’ (Darren McGarvey). 


This is a book adaptation of Imogen Stirling’s show-in-progress. A fusion of poetry, theatre and electronic music, Love The Sinner is a modern retelling of the stories of the seven deadly sins. Benjamin Zephaniah has called the show ‘the work of a lyrical genius’.

Swooping from the mundane to the immense, Stirling’s long-form poetry weaves narratives of human experience.

This story sees ancient roots clasp hands with modern compassion to explore human frailty, love and resilience, while the threat of ecological crisis rumbles in the background. 

'A rich and other worldly book, a compelling work woven with gold threads of resistance and resilience, connection and human nature.'
Salena Godden



Cast from the mind of a Greek,
they are seven.  
Etched in memory and manuscript, 
they act as guide,
and legend. 
Crude definitions
caught somewhere between complex and simple, 
their cardinal intelligence documents
a testament of misdemeanour. 
Impressive, really  
See their history and stature,
standing as pinnacles, their vision held
t  e  r  r  i  f  i  c   v  a  s  t  n  e  s  s  

They span millennia
to tell us of sin.

'This collection demonstrates just how creative a thoughtful and intelligent poet can get with sin. I think this is the work of a lyrical genius. It is crafted by a great poet, and crafted with emotional depth. There's nothing like this. There's no one like Imogen.' 
Benjamin Zephaniah


This is a book adaptation of Imogen Stirling’s five-star show, with illustrations by Sean Mulvenna.
#Hypocrisy was originally performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018, before transferring to London’s Theatre503 and touring around the UK and Europe. An audio version of the show (featuring an original score) can be found on Spotify and Bandcamp.
'Exactly the sort of poetry we need right now.'
Alan Bissett

Rehearsal footage taken prior to Love The Sinner’s showcase at the Tron Theatre’s Outside Eyes event (October 2019).

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Golnoosh Nour

Composing ROCKSONG was a truly wild ride, at times a painful one, but mostly ecstatic & inspired. Sometimes I still don’t understand how I wrote these poems, I just know I wouldn’t exchange this transcendent experience for anything else!’

Dr Golnoosh Nour is the author of The Ministry of Guidance and Other Stories (Muswell Press, 2020). Her full-length poetry collection Rocksong will be published in October 2021 by Verve Poetry Press. Golnoosh’s work has also been published in Granta and Poetry Anthology amongst others, and she has performed in numerous literary events, including Stoke Newington Literature Festival, the Poetry Café, and RVT. Golnoosh is a visiting lecturer at the University of Bedfordshire. She’s currently co-editing the issue 80 of Magma and the anthology Queer Life, Queer Love forthcoming from Muswell Press.


 ‘Our house has been vandalised again they have destroyed our bedroom our bed while we were away falling more deeply inimpermissible love.’ – from ‘A Manifesto – The Future is Queer

Fresh, queer, brave, profound, the poems in this collection from London based Iranian Golnoosh do not disappoint. Her stories are wonderful – her poetry is breath-taking!

'So tough, ferocious even, so beautiful, as insinuating in their radiance as they are translucently blunt, Golnoosh Nour’s poems, with a steely mindfulness and whiplash denouements that gut the heart, are a great and vital treasure'
Dennis Cooper


In Your Arms I Am A Boy

A sparrow, trapped and warmed in your hands,
a nightingale singing the songs of misery and victory,
a boy who competes with other boys to win at pool, at fights, at life.
A boy who murmurs in your ears that you are an empress for whom
he is ready to murder everyone else.

A jealous boy, a delicate boy, a delicious boy.
An inebriated boy, a pauper, a landless poet, a nomad who
has been accused of being a solipsistic prince.
A socialist boy, a sociable boy, an isolated boy, an island in love
with the ocean that is drowning it.

A brown boy, daggered by injustice,
an attacked prince like Siyavash, dragged
to walk through flames to prove his innocence.
As I storm through the fire, you hold my hands
like a bouquet of blossoming roses.

You are right, my empress, I am nothing but a wounded prince:
stabbed in the back and front by all my friends and
none of my enemies, bleeding on your cold marble, and you,
mesmerised by my golden blood,
will betray the world to save your boy.

'ROCKSONG is a shamelessly baroque ride through the nadirs and summits of the contemporary queer. It's a decadent book, where decadence isn't a cipher for self-indulgence, but a fierce and fugitive resistance. These poems flirt and confront in turns, they seduce and attack, they are tender and grotesque. They create a strangely exultant burlesque on identity, sexuality, desire and language. I love them for that.'
Fran Lock

The Ministry of Guidance and Other Stories

Nuanced and powerful, Nour’s collection of stories explores love and cruelty, sex and religion, and being confined by the rules of an uncompromising culture.

Set mostly in Iran, but making forays to London, Germany, and the transit area of a Ukrainian airport, the stories are brilliantly deft in summoning up the dilemmas of their protagonists, be they characters who are kicking against the confines of the society into which they are born, or characters wanting to embrace those confines.

'A strong, original voice with unprecedented stories to tell'
Marina Warner

Golnoosh reads at ‘Silent Roar: a renegade reading with 7 poets’ for the 87 Press.

More from Golnoosh!

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Rick Sanders

I am so pleased that Verve has been bold enough to publish my collection, because it feels that comic poetry is always on the fringes of the mainstream poetry establishment, yet when we experience comic poetry at it’s very best it has the power to lift us and transport us in exactly the same way as all the other poetic forms and you get a good laugh thrown in for free!’


Rick Sanders, aka Willis the Poet, is an established comedy stand-up poet based in the mighty West Midlands. He is a regular headliner and featured poet on the flourishing spoken word scene across the UK, his sticky sausage-fingers in as many pies as he can. 

You can find him running his mouth off at any event where there is a) an audience and b) a microphone. In between gigs he skulks in the dark recesses of abandoned buildings trying to think of funny things to write about, which is testament to the contents of this book really; a romp through the cerebral cortex of a man who writes humourous verse about pretty much anything and then inflicts it on unsuspecting poetry fans wherever he can. 



Sometimes things are top secret for a reason. Thankfully Willis the Poet assures us that these poems have not been hidden away for that reason but another one altogether.

Anyone who has seen and laughed with Willis the Poet will know that his poetry notebooks contain poems big and small, incidental and even more incidental, rough and smooth and everything in between (incl smoothly rough).

The thing they have in common is that they are all hilarious. At least the ones he reads out are. But never before has Willis the Poet permitted his audience to peep inside his most prized poetry trove. A bad idea? Perhaps, but there’s no resisting a topsecret poetry notebook!


'Willis the Poet is without a doubt one of the funniest poets it has been my pleasure to hear perform. His easy yet intensely witty interaction with his audience makes every performance a time of laughter, hilarity and sheer out and out fun!'
Nick Lovell


Brum Radio Poets is a radio broadcast on the last Sunday of each month at 10am, featuring poets from the Midlands and surrounding area. Hosted by Rick Sanders aka Willis the Poet, the show is an hour of chat and poetry readings with 3 other poets. Relaxed, insightful and always fun, tune in to listen to great poetry…

Guests have included many of the Verve family, such as Jasmine Gardosi, Casey Bailey and Spoz, to name but a few!

For a taste of Rick’s comedy, have a look at this performance on his YouTube channel!

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Emily Rose Galvin

Emily Rose Galvin was the first female Staffordshire Poet Laureate (2017-2019) before becoming Poet in Residence at Lichfield Library and co-host of Spoken Word night WordCraft in Stoke-on-Trent.  Performing regularly across the UK, Emily has a repertoire of poetry that tackles mental health, emotional wellbeing and the complications of human relationships, and was most recently placed in the Top 5 Shortlist for Culture Recordings’ New Voice in Poetry Prize 2020. 


Taking inspiration from the transient states of water, and the parallels of human sentiment, the debut collection from Emily Rose Galvin explores the changing states of emotion, relationships, mental health and cultural pressures. From the vapour-like intangibility of first love to the waves of depression, the dew point aims to examine that finite degree between happiness and desolation; emptiness and making ourselves whole.

At times both vulnerable and shocking, Emily’s writing strikes a nerve between the subtle and uncomfortable, while coaxing out the honest core of readers and forcing them to engage with the darker parts of modern life that we tend to gloss over.


The Theory of Relationships According to Pythagoras

Point one, and you’d be blind to call this a triangle,
triangular as your limbs all seem;
too many elbows, somehow,
jutted in to left angles,
one too many ribs that make each breath
sound like a butterfly earthquake between chests.
But you embrace like a moulding.
A negative degree angle,
each cell below the belly button and above the kneecap
part of some complex reaction
fusing into one another,
desperate to.
Hearts meet at point two,
Straight lined, so much less about sex these days,
a full-bodied unity.
The points of the hips meet softly now
as breathless kisses,
the sigh of an arm draping a shoulder in triangulation.
These bodies the rise of a steeple, the stretch of a finger,
the swoop of a wing.
But I saw us at point three
obtuse in all angles, repellant;
the touching biceps and minds wandering beyond the
conservatory door.
I’d build a ship in the space between us
and set sail for hope
were it not for the anchor of a tear
against my right-angled shoulder,
and I know these are no seas for mismeasured sails.
I know the triangular warning sign when I see it.
The back pedal got lost, in the angles between hips,
and I’m waiting for point four, an equilateral,
but triangles are only three.


Emily’s thoughtful, heartfelt poetry combine with John MacLeod’s sympathetic guitar arrangements in this two-man musical-poetic outfit.

Throughout 2019, Emily & John have home-recorded material, released their debut EP recorded at Tremolo Recording Studio, made radio appearances, and performed in venues and at events around Staffordshire & beyond, and have had a great time doing it.

In 2020, amid the chaos of lockdown and uncertain times, they have remotely recorded a new collection of pieces in the form of an EP entitled #40, and also a Christmas recording entitled ‘The Night Before’.

'It’s Only Thursday' delivers a beautiful taste of things to come from Rose & Cloud, I’m sure of it. Galvin’s words are heartfelt but they’re given a new dimension by MacLeod who lifts them up a notch in terms of their auditory delivery, with both poetry and instrumentals proving a joy to listen to – individually, of course, but when put together they make for something special.
Dr Charley Barnes
Mad Hatter Reviews for 'It's Only Thursday'

Emily performs as part of her duties as Poet in Residence at Lichfield Library.

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Verve Poetry Press 2021 Releases


Verve is beyond proud to announce that we will be publishing 21 new pamphlets and collections in 2021 from accomplished and new voices. No matter your taste in poetry, you are bound to find a new favourite.

See our list of releases below:


Continue reading Verve Poetry Press 2021 Releases