on the path to the station
there’s a tree      that marks the seasons
look baby       blossom
look baby       leaves
look baby       autumn
next year I’ll show you autumn    and it will be so beautiful
the world is      so beautiful
I will show you

one day I wake up      and it’s November
bare branches are faulty umbilical cords
failing to implant the sky 


medical students perch around the room
drawn to our rare        and bitter fruit

the consultant sketches     winter branches
in biro blue        to explain what connects

me to you      what’s not getting through

by Natalie Whittaker

This week we are very pleased to share two poems by Natalie Whittaker from her second pamphlet, Tree, which is being published by Verve Poetry Press on 15 March. These two pieces appear at either end of Natalie’s new pamphlet. As some readers will know, we published Natalie’s first pamphlet, Shadow Dogs, in 2018 through our ignitionpress, and it’s great to see Natalie continuing her publication success with this latest, very moving and powerful collection.

Do sign up for the launch of Tree on 31 March, when Natalie will be reading alongside three other Verve poets who also have new pamphlets out with Verve: Hannah Hodgson, Marina Sánchez, and Jamie Hale. We’ll be featuring work by Hannah, Marina and Jamie as upcoming Weekly Poems.

‘Tree’ and ‘Tree’ are copyright © Natalie Whittaker, 2021. They are reprinted from Tree (Verve Poetry Press, 2021) by permission of Verve Poetry Press. You can read more about the pamphlet and pre-order a copy on the Verve website.

Notes from Verve Poetry Press:

In Tree, Natalie Whittaker is writing about her personal experience of stillbirth and the mental illness that can follow such a traumatic event. It is a subject that is still rarely addressed in poetry, writing or conversation. That she is able to do so here, in eighteen intricate, carefully crafted poems, in a way that is engaging, communicative, distressing and yet also beautiful, is a testament to her abilities as a poet, her strong grasp on the power of language and the power of her imagination.

With these powers, she brings a harrowing subject close up and enables the reader to truly feel, to see, to understand, to share. It is a brave and necessary work, wonderfully and heartbreakingly realised. Read more about the pamphlet on the Verve Poetry Press website.

Natalie Whittaker is a poet and secondary school teacher from South East London. Her debut pamphlet Shadow Dogs was published by ignitionpress in 2018. Natalie is one of the London Library’s emerging writers for 2020 / 2021. Her poems have been widely published in UK magazines and anthologies; she was commended in the Verve poetry competition 2020, and won second place in the Kent and Sussex poetry competition 2020. You can follow Natalie on Twitter and Instagram.

Verve Poetry Press is a Birmingham-based publisher dedicated to promoting and showcasing Birmingham and Midlands poetic talent in colourful and exciting ways – as you would expect from a press that has grown out of the giddy and flamboyant, annual four days of poetry and spoken word that is Verve Poetry Festival, Birmingham. Added to this is a colourful pamphlet series featuring poets who have previously performed at our sister festival – Natalie’s pamphlet is the latest addition to this prize-winning series – and a debut performance poetry series, which had seen us working with the brightest rising stars on the UK spoken word scene. We also assert our right to publish any poetry we feel needs and deserves to find print wherever we find it. Verve was awarded the Saboteur Award for Most Innovative Publisher in 2019 and the Michael Marks Publisher’s Award 2019. Find out more about Verve Poetry Press on  the publisher’s website and follow the press on Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.