The Emma Press Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse

Edited by Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright


Eroticism isn’t just about sex: it’s about all the things around sex as well. Things like anticipation, desire, intimacy and romance. It can be visceral and beautiful, hilarious and alarming, and each person’s understanding of it is utterly unique. With The Emma Press Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse, we have tried to represent eroticism in an honest, positive way, peeling back the associations with slickness and glamour to reveal human sexuality in all its messy, sexy glory.

In twenty-three exquisite poems, nineteen poets from across the world celebrate the diversity and eccentricity of human sexuality with their stories of chance encounters and lingering memories. You can read a discussion of one of the poems, ‘Trickster’, over on Poem Club.

Paperback ISBN 978 0 9574596 2 5
Publication date: 26th September 2013
Page count: 64
Price: £10 (paperback)

OUT OF PRINT (But revived in the new Mildly Erotic Verse)


The book was edited by Newdigate Prize-winning poet Rachel Piercey, author of The Flower and the Plough, with Emma Wright, and contains ten illustrations and an introduction by Emma Wright. You can read more about Emma Wright’s experience of editing the book over on the Erotic Review, as well as an interview on Eve Made A Wish.



‘This anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse is immensely enjoyable: a collection that can be dipped in and out of when one is need of distraction and diversion, rather than the physical relief that accompanies one-handed reads. Highly recommended.’ (5-star review) – Alisande Fitzsimons, For Books’ Sake

‘The joy in the anthology seems to be divided equally between finding the sublime in the ordinary, and the ordinary in the sublime. While “Hare” sees wonder in the “changeling” their lover becomes, and “The Frozen Man” conjures up a “white-blue beauty” with a poem almost like a magic spell or incantation, images created “At the cusp of the year in absolute dark”,  “Magician’s Assistant” by Richard O’Brien finds magic and sensuality in tawdry hotels and discarded sequins.’ – Alex Campbell, Sabotage Reviews

‘These poems are as rich and diverse as you’d expect to find in a collection spanning a whole gamut of sexual experience: from brief encounters to longing glances, heydays and broken hearts.’ – Zoe Apostolides, Erotic Review

‘My favourite piece from the anthology is Amy Key’s ‘Tight Dress’ which details the thoughts that can pass through your head during a hook-up (Is my bed made? Who undresses first?). It’s a beautiful way of showing how self-conscious we can become doing something that should come naturally and I keep finding myself reading it over-and-over because the imagery is so distinct. ‘ – Megan McGill, Hepburn’s Pixie Crop


About the poets

Julia Bird grew up in Gloucestershire and now lives in London. She works part-time for the Poetry School, and produces touring live literature shows as a freelancer. Her first collection Hannah and the Monk was published by Salt in 2008, and her second Twenty-Four Seven Blossom was published in Autumn 2013.

Mel Denham lives in the literature-loving city of Melbourne. She’s had a lifelong love affair with poetry, but has only recently begun writing it. She is working on a collection of poems about her other love, the postal system. Brief musings on this and other ephemera can be found at

Joy Donnell is a writer, producer and former publicist living in Los Angeles by way of Georgia. Her work is published or forthcoming in anthologies printed by Beacon Press, Random House, St. Martin’s Press and Alyson Books. She can be found online at

Hugh Dunkerley grew up in Edinburgh and Bath and now lives in mildly erotic Brighton with his wife and young son. He has published one full collection, Hare (Cinnamon Press, 2010), in which sex and nature feature prominently. He is currently working on a new collection about fatherhood.

Kirsten Irving co-runs Sidekick Books with Jon Stone and her own poetry has been published by Happenstance and Salt. She normally writes a lot about robots. And schoolgirls too. And sometimes cannibals. Sexy robot schoolgirl cannibals.

Amy Key was born in Dover and grew up in Kent and the North East. She now lives and works in London. She co-edits the online journal Poems in Which. Her pamphlet Instead of Stars was published by tall-lighthouse in 2009. Her debut collection Luxe was published by Salt in November 2013.

Anja Konig was raised in the German language and now writes in English. Her work has appeared in magazines in the UK and the US, including Poetry Review, Poetry London, Smiths Knoll, Magma, The Stand, Cimarron Review, and The Washington Square Review.

Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi has worked in television, advertising and as a scriptwriter on a sitcom in Indonesia. She performed her poetry for the first time in 2011, at Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris. She now lives in Naples, where she is enjoying her new role as mother to her little boy Corentin. Her first pamphlet, Ikhda, by Ikhda, was published by The Emma Press in March 2014.

Julie Mullen is a Liverpool performance poet.  She has performed at The Assembly Rooms Edinburgh, The Chelsea Arts Club, Soho House, and The Groucho Club. Brian Patten commented on her book Erotic Poetry For Vegans & Vegetarians, ‘Does for sprouts what Wordsworth did for daffodils.’  She can be found at The Word Cafe.

Richard O’Brien’s first pamphlet, your own devices, appeared in 2009 on tall-lighthouse press. His work has featured in Poetry London, the Erotic Review, and The Salt Book of Younger Poets. His blog, The Scallop-Shell, is dedicated to the close reading of contemporary poetry. His pamphlet of love poems, The Emmores, was published by The Emma Press in January 2014.

After graduating from Oxford in 2012, Emma Reay was a little lost. She tried a few different things but soon decided to give adult life the slip and hitchhike around America, where she may still be right now. She has a keen interest in photography and her travel blog can be found at The North Ship.

Kristen Roberts is an Australian poet and full time mum. Her poetry has won the Michael Thwaites and page seventeen poetry competitions and has been published in Australian journals, which sometimes feels unbelievable when considered from the midst of Wiggles sing-alongs and toilet training. Kristen’s first pamphlet, The Held and the Lost, was published by The Emma Press in February 2014.

Jacqueline Saphra has won several awards including first prize in the Ledbury Poetry Competition. Her pamphlet, Rock’n’Roll Mamma, was published by Flarestack and her first full collection, The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye) was developed with funding from Arts Council England and nominated for The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.

Lawrence Schimel was born in New York and has lived in Madrid, Spain for nearly 15 years. He is the author of two poetry collections in English, Fairy Tales for Writers and Deleted Names, and one in Spanish, Desayuno en la cama, as well as a collection of erotic short stories, His Tongue. You can find him on Twitter @lawrenceschimel.

Stephen Sexton lives in Belfast where he’s working towards a PhD at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. He was the winner of the inaugural Funeral Services Northern Ireland National Poetry Competition. His poems have appeared in The Open Ear, Abridged, and as part of the Lifeboat series of readings.

Jon Stone was born in Derby and is currently London-based. His collection, School of Forgery, was a Poetry Book Society recommendation and he won an Eric Gregory Award in 2012. He’s also co-creator of Sidekick Books, publishers of collaborative creative anthologies.

Sara-Mae Tuson has had short fiction, poetry and articles published in the Salt anthology Overheard, The Journal, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Inky Needles, Rising, Obsessed with Pipework, The London Magazine and more. She has performed as a guest at Loose Muse, Angel Poetry, The Hot House and Book Club Boutique.

Ruth Wiggins lives in East London with her partner and three sons. Her poetry has appeared in Brittle Star, Smiths Knoll and several anthologies. When not writing poetry, she enjoys hiking and photography; her book of women dressed as super heroes – Wonder Women of America – was published in 2008. She is a member of Forest Poets.

Jerrold Yam is a law undergraduate at University College London and the author of Scattered Vertebrae (2013) and Chasing Curtained Suns (2012). His poems have been published in over sixty literary journals and anthologies worldwide. He has been awarded poetry prizes from Arts Council England, the British Council and the National University of Singapore, and is the youngest Singaporean to be nominated for the Pushcart Prize.
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