We Shall Overcome!

Come and join us at our next event at the Moor Theatre Delicatessen on Thursday 6 October. It’s a special event for We Shall Overcome – a nationwide movment of artists, musicians and community organisers to protest against austerity and support those affected. It’s also National Poetry Day so what could be more auspicious! All cash donations will be donated to the Archer Project in Sheffield and we will be collecting food/ sanitary products for the S2 Food Bank as always.

There will be brilliant poetry from Suzannah Evans (Poet), Norah Hamill (Poet), Ray Garner (Poet) and Kevin Titterton (poet) and fab music from Speed For Lovers

There will also be great open mic performances from Cora GreenhillAnamoli Meraki (poet), Sez Thomasin (poet), Joe O’Brien (poet) and Cherry Barham (poet)

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 £3) – all proceeds to the Archer Project, Sheffield.

We look forward to welcoming you to Verse Matters!

For more info see the Facebook event or get in touch with Rachel Bower at verse.matters@gmail.com.

Verse Matters is back!

Verse Matters is back tomorrow! And what a line-up…

There will be brilliant poetry from Nicole May (Poet, Young Identity), passionate lyrics from Ross Walcott (Poet), wonderful words from Char March (Poet) and fantastic music and lyrics from Nicky Bray (Musician).

There will also be fab open mic performances from Nick Allen (poet), Johnny J Albrow,   Alex Carr-Malcolm (poet), Leanne Modern (poet), Richard C. Bower (poet) and Rex Davies (poet) and a few words from our newest partner, Hive South Yorkshire.

We’ll be collecting for the S2 Food Bank as usual so please bring food/ sanitary product donations.

Thursday 1 September @  The Moor Theatre Delicatessen, Sheffield (S1 4PF)

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1229076690466018/


Unite against racism

On 23rd June 2016 we gathered in the Moor Theatre Deli for a special Verse Matters for Refugee Week and Yorkshire Festival. It was a powerful and moving event, balanced in that tense moment between the daytime voting for the EU Referendum and the results the following morning. Given the ‘Leave’ result and the rapid rise in race-related hate crimes since the vote, it is even more important that we met together to stand in solidarity against xenophobia and racism.

Sheffield was the UK’s first City of Sanctuary, and the event was part of Migration Matters, the brilliant week-long festival celebrating sanctuary in the city of steel.

The night opened with a lovely reading of the group poem, “Grapes in My Father’s Yard”, written by a group working with the Material Stories of Migration project at the University of Sheffield and performed by Dillo Ibrahim, Astrid Degan and Mihaela Moldor. It is a great project run by Veronica Barnsley and Shirin Teifouri at the University of Sheffield, and myself and Sai Murray worked with the group as they developed the poem.


Tony Bowring, chair of Arts on the Run and long-time supported of Verse Matters introduced some of the wonderful artists from the Art of Migration. The first of these was the talented Angelina Abel from Angola. Angelina performed a wonderful version of Warsan Shire’s Home with Sara Oliviero playing an excerpt from The Corrs on the violin.

Becky, Aoife & Khalidah  from the inspiring Leeds Young Authors then read a range of brilliant poems, including the timely and moving “I am British Too.”

Chijioke Ojukwu, aka CJ, read some brilliant poems, ranging from love to the Yorkshire twang. Pammie Grant read for the first time after the break with two excellent poems, followed by a moving set from Rae Burgess who returned to Verse Matters to perform a featured slot after reading for the very first time back in October.

Mimi Mesfin from Ethiopia then read two beautiful poems in Amheric, and the English translations were read by Kate Marks, a volunteer for the brilliant Conversation Club at ASSIST.



The night closed with stunning performances from Bashar Farahat, a talented poet from Syria, and  Mina Salama, a distinguished musician from Egypt. Mina played as Bashar read some of the most moving poems I have ever listened to. Bashar then drummed with Mina as he played a range of ancient instruments. The last set evoked sadness, anger and humour in the artists and in everyone witnessing. Angelina joined the stage to dance with one of the pieces, and it was a true privilege to witness the humility and humanity with which everyone shared their stories and talent.

Thank you to everyone who came along and shared their work and to everyone who witnessed for creating such a supportive space. There is no equality for women without racial equality. There is no racial equality without economic equality. We stand together, and are stronger together. It was a powerful event and I hope that it offers some strength in the difficult and dark times to come.

Photo Credits: Joseph


Verse Matters @ Yorkshire Festival!

After a wonderful event in April (see Liam Roger’s brilliant review) Verse Matters is back on 23 June as part of the Yorkshire Festival and Refugee Week at Moor Theatre Delicatessen.

Come and join us for more fantastic performances. Khadijah Ibrahiim (Poet/ Dir. Leeds Young Authors) will perform her fantastic poetry, there will be wonderful words from Chijioke John Ojukwu (Poet) and Rae Burgess and brilliant music (TBC).

There’ll also be great open mic performances including
Terry Gallagher (Musician/ songwriter) and Pam Godbehere (Poet) and more TBC.

Cost: Pay what you can. £3 suggested donation. All door profits split between featured artists. Free entry for open mic participants. 

Please bring dried/ tinned donations for the S2 Foodbank if you can.

We look forward to welcoming you to Verse Matters!

For more info join the Facebook group or event or email Rachel Bower at verse.matters@gmail.com.

Poetry, Stories, Music & Seeds!

Verse Matters is back tonight (Thurs 7 April) for another fantastic night of poetry, music and solidarity at the Moor Theatre Delicatessen 

There will be brilliant performances from Rosie Garland (Poet), Robert de Born (Poet/ Musician) and Sarah Sharp (Musician) as well as sparkling open mic performances from Nicole May (poet), Steven Kay (fiction), Sez Thomasin (Poet), Susie Hawksworth (Poet), Vicky Morris (Poet) and Anne Garage (short stories)! It’s going to be fab!

Pay what you can/ £3 donation. If you can please bring along donations for the S2 Food Bank – dried or tinned food or sanitary products.

We will also have free wild flower seeds to give out to everyone from Flowers to the People so come and celebrate the spring and spread flower love in Sheffield and beyond…


International Women’s Day @ Moor Theatre Deli

We had a wonderful first night at the Moor Theatre Deli to celebrate International Women’s Day 2016 as part of SheFest Sheffield.

Amy Kinsman (Poet) performed a fantastic set of poems and Fiona Helsing shared her amazing, powerful music. River Wolton (Poet) read her wonderful poems and there were also brilliant open mic performances from Ayan Abdi (Poet) Suzannah Evans (Bank St Arts), Marina Poppa (A Firm of Poets), Ben Jackson (Forest Sounds), Laura Church (Poet), Janine Smedley (Poet) and Katherine Henderson (Poet)!

We also collected lots of donations for the S2 Foodbank – thank you to everyone who donated.

It was a warm, powerful evening of solidarity. Thank you to everyone who came along and performed and witnessed.

Please get in touch with Rachel Bower for more information about future events at verse.matters@gmail.com.


Sheffield Poem-a-Thon for Refugees and Asylum Seekers

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On 2 April, myself and many of the poets who have performed at Verse Matters are reading poems in Sheffield for the Poem-a-Thon for Refugees and Asylum Seekers, raising money for ASSIST who work with destitute asylum seekers and refugees in Sheffield. ASSIST is a fantastic charity which has been working in Sheffield for many years.

We’re working as a team, and the team has raised thousands in the first week. If you can, please pick any poet to sponsor from our team page:


ASSIST says that:

£5 could cover expenses for a weekend’s hospitality for an asylum seeker in need of somewhere to sleep
£17 could cover travel expenses to enable an asylum seeker to get to medical and legal appointments
£20 could give a vulnerable asylum seeker a week’s ASSIST grant to enable them to buy some food