Keep going….

This morning many people are reeling from the victory of Trump in the US election. It is time to grieve, but not time to abandon the fight against injustice, xenophobia racism, misogyny and sexual violence. Over the last 18 months we have grown a powerful community here in Sheffield in which people have felt safe enough to come to events to share their experiences of sexual abuse, violence, incarceration, racism and mental health issues as well as sharing love, empathy, righteous anger, laughter and silliness. The grim election results over the last three years in Britain, India and the US are truly an insult to the courage of these people.

Anyone who has been along to Verse Matters events knows that the event is about much more than beautiful art and nice photos. We are stronger together and Verse Matters exists to bear witness to continuing inequality and injustice and to resist this locally, nationally and internationally, as well as to support those most affected by the difficult times in which we are living. There is no gender equality without racial equality, there is no racial equality without economic equality. We are in it together. This is an invitation to join communities that further these aims and continue to build resistance, locally and across borders.


Last Verse Matters in 2016!

Thanks to everyone who performed and supported for a great Verse Matters At The Moor Theatre Deli on 3 November.

SJ Bradley (Fictions of Every Kind) read a brilliant short story and an extract from her new novel, Loma Sylvana (Poet) treated us to her wonderful flowing poems and Salt Pinchers (Musicians) played a beautiful set. There were also great open mic performances from  Kate Garrett (poet), Umor Haque (poet), Dave Attrill (poet), Ros Arksey (Poet), Gav Roberts (poet), Notuo (poet), Warda Yassin (poet) and Lee Moore (v. short stories).

We’ll be back in the New Year to share more fantastic performances in a supportive space. Come and join us! And get in touch if you’d like to read, perform or share anything. All are welcome.

Verse Matters – November 2016!

After a wonderful Hive Verse Matters Young People’s Open Mic last week, Verse Matters is back on Thursday 3 November at The Moor Theatre Deli for the last event in 2016! Come down for fab poetry from Loma Sylvana, wonderful stories from SJ Bradley (Fictions Of Every Kind) and great music from Salt Pinchers (incl. Stella Sminkos)

There will also be brilliant open mic performances from Kate Garrett-Nield(poet), DrayZera/Umor Haque (poet), Dave Attrill (poet), Ros Arksey (Poet), Gav RobertsLee Moore (short stories), Notuo (poet) and Warda Yassin(poet),

We’ll be collecting food/ sanitary products for the S2 Food Bank as always. Come and join us!

Pay what you can (suggested donation £3)/ 7.30-10pm

Calling all young people (14-25)!


Verse Matters is teaming up with Hive South Yorkshire to run a young people’s open mic on Thursday 27 October at the Moor Theatre Deli in Sheffield!

If you write poems, tell stories, compose lyrics, spit bars, or have anything else to say out loud to a supportive audience, this is an evening to celebrate your words, ideas and talents in a warm atmosphere.

Events are open to all, both new and experienced. As always with Verse Matters we aim to create a supportive space for all performers. We have a limited number of slots on the night for first timers or go-on-then people who prefer not to think about it beforehand!

Where: Thurs 27 Oct | 7.30pm – 10pm

Where: Theatre Delicatessen, the Moor, Sheffield, S1 4PF


We will be collecting food for the S2 Food Bank as always at Verse Matters (tinned and dried food)

There will also be featured performances from Will Banks and Anna May Fox:

Will Banks

Will Banks came to Rotherham Young Writers when he was 16 with a solo interest in journalism. It wasn’t long before he realised he really liked poetry (often with a bit of comedy) and was writing reams of the stuff. His new found interest in wordery took him to a degree in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University where he got stuck into slams and poetry open mics aplenty. Will is currently studying a PGCE in Primary Education and plans to take his love of creative writing into the classroom to inspire the next generation.

Ann May Fox

A recent graduate from UEA’s Creative Writing Course and a proud alumnus of Sheffield Young Writers (SYW), Anna May Fox is beautiful, hilarious and talented… and also writes all her own introductions. When she grows up, she would like to become a proper writer. Over the years at SYW, Anna May went from mouse-shy to rather loud and we like to think the group influenced her decision to keep scribbling. Anna was named one of the top ‘25 Vloggers Under 25 Who Are Owning The World Of YouTube’ by Huffington Post in 2014 and you can check out her awesome channel here:

We look forward to welcoming you to the Hive Young Writers’ Verse Matters!

A partnership between Hive South Yorkshire, Verse Matters & Off the Shelf Festival of Words

For more info see:

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 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)



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