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Visual Verse

Visual Verse is a unique literary journal of art and words, containing over 11,000 pieces of original ekphrastic writing by over 3,300 writers from around the world.

Visual Verse was founded in 2013 by publisher Kristen Harrison at The Curved House, writer and activist Preti Taneja, now Professor of World Literature and Creative Writing at Newcastle University and British designer Pete Lewis. Our goal was to create a space for writers across all backgrounds, identities and geographies to experiment freely, connect with their writing process, and be published without facing the usual barriers to the industry. Visual Verse is a celebration of ekphrasis as a form of global community creation, and as a creative process.

Published monthly from 1 November, 2013 to 1 October, 2023, Visual Verse provides a testimony to early 21st Century writing and aesthetics: our concerns, hopes and responses to political moments from the Johnson-Trump-Modi era and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, to the avoidable tragedy of the Grenfell Fire and the stress of the global pandemic, creating a digital space for response in art, poetry, short fiction and non-fiction.

Visual Verse logo. A large black V with the words Visual Verse sat on top in black font.

Each month, the editors selected one compelling image and invited writers – published and unpublished – to submit a piece between 50 and 500 words, written within the space of an hour, in response to that image. Each month we commissioned lead writers to start the chapter, before the site opened to the public. We received over 150 submissions per month and published 100 of the best. 

You can use this archive to:

  • Inspire and grow your creative practice
  • Teach creative writing, ekphrasis, interdisciplinarity and community writing
  • Research contemporary art, writing and writers, online magazines and more
  • Searchable indexes of artists and writers can be found on the site
  • Explore the possibilities of art and writing in digitial humanities

 Many contributors in this archive became known, over the decade, as some of the most exciting, avant-garde and award-winning writers working today: Isabel Waidner, Nadine Monem, Ashley Hickson Lovence, Eley Williams, Nisha Ramayya, Irenosen Okojie, Glen James Brown, Will Harris, Megan Hunter, So Mayer, Adam Biles, Maame Blue and more; there are poets including Sandeep Parmar and Richard Georges, Karthika Naïr and Rachel Allen, Anthony Anaxagorou and George Szirtes, Inua Ellams and Rishi Dastidar and respected names in international literature: Niven Govinden, Kate Briggs, Alex Pheby, Jennifer Croft, Nikesh Shukla, Ivan Vladislavić, Chika Unigwe. Artists from Khadija Saye to Jenni Fagan inspired our words.

As well as publishing thousands of independent artists and writers, Visual Verse also entered creative partnerships with organisations including The Wellcome Trust, Camden Council (London), M-Leuven (Brussels), Lewis Glucksman Gallery (Cork), Sand Journal, NASA, HMP Whitemoor, and Creative Review, always with a focus on exploring our world in all its politics and passions, doubts, fears and hopes through the intersection of art and words. Our founding supporters were Bernardine Evaristo, Cathy Galvin, Mark Garry, Andrew Motion, Marc Schlossman, and Ali Smith.

Few established publications offer such a prolific output and the myriad of styles, perspectives, ideas, and expression of community values through form, that Visual Verse enshrines. We are proud to partner with Newcastle University through NCLA to preserve this important archive.

Now, you can continue to read, explore, enjoy, and use a literary archive like no other.               

Visual Verse website