Introducing Sarah L Dixon

We’re excited Sarah L Dixon, the quiet compere,  is joining us for our collaboration with SheFest on 7th March. When she put a callout on Facebook offering to do interviews, we thought we’d have a chat with her for our very first Verse Matters interview! We’re certain she’s not the first person to say that their dark humour is a result of working in the NHS, and she has some great advice for anyone whose just starting to write poetry. Join us on 7th March to hear Sarah’s words in person.
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What inspires you?
Music, science, being by and in water (especially the sea), light, colour, patterns, fabrics, challenge, change, ale and pubs, walking, my seven-year-old, Frank and the way he thinks.

I love attending workshops as I find I write things I would never have written without being led that way and the way the themes start to circulate around a group unconsciously when you have a half day or day long workshop. The most recent workshops I have been to were Clare Shaw’s at Bronte Parsonage and two at Poetry Swindon run by Daljit Nagra (I ended up with a looping piece about the light through blinds and ending up in a very otherworldly place) and Tania Hershman.

Who are your influences/role models?
Jo Bell and Tony Walsh for having the drive to make stuff happen.
Angela Readman, Joanne Key and Selkirk Ayres for sharing their darknesses.
Ciaran Hodgers and Clare Shaw for being honest and brutal and human and kind.
Young Identity for ground-breaking performances. They floored me with their show last year where two poets read the poems to each other as lovers and then stayed on the stage gazing at each other for the rest of the event.
There are dozens and dozens I will have forgotten here but for now that will do.

What themes do you like to discuss in poetry?
Change, challenge (especially around break-up, moving on, moving area at the moment), transformation, the 90s – music, technology, pace of life, dance and music. The content of my poems is often unintentionally dark, seventeen years in the NHS has given me a slight gallows humour that I don’t even notice most of the time.

Do you enjoy writing in other forms as well?
I have occasionally written in the form of a short story or flash fiction. I am not as confident in these and have only sent one off. I might just do this again today now you have prompted me. My brain does not have the concentration span to write a novel, though I have never tried.

Do you have any collections/poems published in anthologies at the moment?
I have my first book out with Half Moon Books, this is called ‘The sky is cracked’ and a signed copy is available by contacting me through my website here.
I also have a poem in the anthology, ‘Please hear what I am not saying?’ which is raising funds for mental health charities.

What’s your advice for anyone starting out?
People who look like they know what they are doing are still worrying about ‘being found out’. I think if you at least occasionally have this worry you are probably doing it right and thinking it through. You will and should have worries about the quality of your work or where it fits. It doesn’t matter where it fits, write, first of all, for you and not for the audience. The more you write, as long as you seek out feedback from other poets you trust, the better you will get at it. I would say don’t force it and don’t worry if the writing dries up, it will come back eventually.

Thanks for chatting to us Sarah, and thanks for reading. It’s whet our appetite for our next event. See you there!


Women’s Suffrage Podcast

We are HONOURED to share with you the Women’s Suffrage podcast, our very first podcast!

Celebrating 100 years since women got the vote are Verse Matters collective members Rachel Bower Sez Thomasin and Hive South Yorkshire’s Vicky Hive.

Thank you to Apples and Snakes and Kirsten Apples Luckins for giving us the opportunity to stand together and celebrate how far women have come in our fight for equality.

You can find the Verse Matters podcast here.

And the other wonderful podcasts in the series are here.

All beautiful and all worth a listen.

Rehearse the Verse

Well that was something special! Thank you to all who joined us for the first ever Rehearse the Verse on 4th February 2018 at Theatre Deli Sheffield. Our aim is to create a super supportive spoken word community in an effort to challenge the inequalities we see around us. We can’t do that alone. When you show up and and help create the world we want to see, you make us believe another world is possible. You make us proud of the work we do. Thanks too to Kirsten Luckins from Apples and Snakes for coming and helping us start with a bang.

Rehearse the Verse is a performance workshop; we did a few warm-ups and exercises; talked about honing the craft and then dedicated space to hearing one piece from each attendee and giving feedback to support their development. There’s so much to be gained from hearing others and giving and receiving feedback.

We’ll be back with another Rehearse the Verse on 8th April. In the meantime we hope to see you at our event on 7th March in collaboration with SheFest❤️💛💚💙💜vm-rtv2.jpg

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What a start to 2018

Well that went off with a bang!
Last night’s Verse Matters has left us speechless. It confirms for us why we do what we do. When you bring such diversity to a line up, the richness and power in the stories hits deep.

Join us next on Wednesday 7th March 2018 for our collaboration with SheFest. Watch this space – more info to follow.

Zara Ade smashing it with a poem about unrequited love. Photo credit: Natasha Wymer

See you in 2018

We are back in January for the first Verse Matters of 2018! Come shake off the January blues and join us on Thursday 11th January for another evening of inspiring performers.

We will be serenaded by wonderful featured sets from:  Anna May FoxADENICO and Sarah Crutwell

We’ll also hear powerful words to bring the new year in from
Tashinga MateweAndy PycroftPamela Godbehere, and Hive Young Writers (14-25s)!

Verse Matters is an inclusive feminist arts event which provides a supportive space for people to share their work, showcasing poetry, stories and music in a friendly environment. Open to all.

We will be collecting food/ sanitary products for the S2 Food Bank as always.

Some of our performers tell stories that are marginalised by society: refugees, detainees, prisoners. Others speak in public for the first time. Others are experienced poets, dramatists and performers. All are respected and appreciated.

Cost: Pay what you can (suggested donation £4)

We look forward to welcoming you to Verse Matters!

Verse Matters has an anthology!

We are delighted to inform you all that Verse Matters is now available in book form!

vmMany, many thanks to everyone who came out to help us launch the Verse Matters anthology at the Holt on Thursday 14th December.

VM founder Rachel Bower and poetry legend Helen Mort have been putting together the anthology for months and it was wonderful to celebrate all their hard work and hear so many of the poems performed. From the tune you hum when you’re missing someone, to the love you receive while fighting cancer, to the rage and grief we all need to feel when we remember the victims of Grenfell, to the bittersweetness of finding something that you know someone you’ve lost would have loved…

The anthology showcases the variety and richness of voices that often go unheard in mainstream poetry.

The launch night also raised money for ASSIST, who do amazing work in Sheffield ensuring that all asylum seekers receive a warm welcome as well as the basic essentials which are often denied them as they seek refuge in the UK. You can find out more about their amazing work and how you can get involved here.

The Verse Matters anthology has been published by Valley Press, and all royalties will go to support ASSIST and The Archer Project, who support homeless people in Sheffield.
You can buy the anthology from Valley Press by going to their website .

Thanks again to Helen and Rachel for their dedication to making this book a reality!