Mildly Erotic Verse


Edited by Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright

Illustrated by Emma Wright

Paperback ISBN 978-1-910139-34-9
Publication date: 29th January 2016
104 pages / 50 poems / 8 illustrations

Price: £10 (paperback)/£5.50 (ebook)

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Aren’t mildly erotic things the most erotic of all? Sometimes eroticism isn’t just about sex – it can be about anticipation, desire, intimacy and romance. It can be wild, hilarious, beautiful and alarming, and it may be hard to define but you’ll know it when you see it. Mildly Erotic Verse skips the mechanics and dives straight into the emotional core of sex, celebrating the diversity and eccentricity of human sexuality.

This is the expanded second edition of The Emma Press Anthology of Mildly Erotic Verse (2013). It features 17 of the original poems and 33 brand-new poems.

  • Read editor Emma Wright’s article ‘How to be erotic’ over on the Inpress blog



‘In the expanded edition of Mildly Erotic Verse, it’s immediately obvious that this love poetry is as far as possible from the wistful odes and idealised damsels of the traditional lustful troubadour. In particular, women are not merely the object of a male poet’s sighing ardour; their voices come through louder than ever, articulating powerful and complex romantic experiences.’– Charlotte Runcie, the Daily Telegraph

Mildly Erotic Verse shows that humour and sensuality are not mutually exclusive. It brings to light the manifold ways sexuality can be experienced and expressed, whether with a partner or alone, real or imagined. The collection opens up discussions which it purposefully seems not to conclude. […] Like all good erotica should, Mildly Erotic Verse knows what is best left unsaid and leaves you longing for more.’ – Emma-Lee Davidson, Emma-Lee on Poetry

‘Mildly Erotic Verse reflects romance and relationships in the 21st Century. Some of the poems are experimental and play with form, and the idea of loving someone imagined or not present. […] This collection is also excellently curated, the poems are honed, honest, refreshing, and even dark. I would say it is a must-read.’ Durre Shahwar


About the editors

Rachel and EmmaRachel Piercey (pictured, left) is a former editor at The Cadaverine magazine and a current editor at the Emma Press. She studied English Literature at St Hugh’s College, Oxford, where she won the Newdigate Prize in 2008. Her illustrated pamphlet of love poems, The Flower and the Plough, was published by the Emma Press in 2013 and her second pamphlet, Rivers Wanted, in 2014.

Emma Wright (pictured, right) studied Classics at Brasenose College, Oxford. She worked in ebook production at Orion Publishing Group before leaving to set up the Emma Press in 2012. In 2015 she toured the UK with the Myths and Monsters poetry tour for children, supported with funding from Arts Council England as part of the Lottery-funded Grants for the Arts programme. She lives in Birmingham.


About the poets

Jamie Baxter grew up in Solihull and works in London, having graduated from Durham University where he studied Engineering. He has had poems published by The Next Review, Astronaut zine, The Cadaverine magazine and Silkworms Ink. He has also attended a Tower Poetry School.

Vasiliki Albedo Bennu was born in Greece and lived in London and New York before returning to Athens recently to take advantage of the local lucrative economic opportunities. Her poems have appeared in The Interpreter’s House, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Belleville Park Pages and the US magazine Beloit Poetry Journal.

Nisha Bhakoo is a writer and video artist. Her poetry has appeared in Poems in Which, Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Cadaverine and Morphrog. In 2015, she was shortlisted for the Jane Martin Poetry Prize, won third prize in the Ledbury Festival competition and was selected for the GlogauAIR artist residency scheme in Berlin.

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, in 2013.

Sophia Blackwell was born in Newcastle in 1982. Her poetry has been anthologised by Bloodaxe, Nine Arches and Sidekick Books. She is the author of one poetry collection, Into Temptation (2009), and a novel, After My Own Heart (2012). Her second collection is due out in 2016 with Burning Eye Books.

Jo Brandon has a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Leeds and is former General Editor of The Cadaverine. Jo’s pamphlet, Phobia, was published in 2012 and her collection The Learned Goose in 2015, both by Valley Press. She can be found online at

Annie Brechin has been published in The Wolf, Stand, Magma, Rising, B O D Y, Paris Lit Up and others. In 2003 she was awarded a Jerwood/Arvon Young Poets Apprenticeship. She is a former Poetry Editor for The Prague Revue and moved from Paris to Dubai last year.

Alan Buckley’s debut pamphlet Shiver (tall-lighthouse, 2009) was a Poetry Book Society Choice. His second pamphlet, The Long Haul, will be published by HappenStance in 2016. He works in Oxford as a psychotherapist, and as a school writer-in-residence for the charity First Story.

In a previous life, Helen Clare was a science teacher. She now works on projects which combine science, poetry and learning, including a poetry residency at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Her published work includes Mollusc (Comma, 2004) and Entomology (HappenStance, 2014).

George David Clark‘s Reveille won the Miller Williams Prize and his new work can be found or is forthcoming in AGNI, The Believer, Blackbird, The Cincinnati Review, FIELD, Measure and elsewhere. He edits the journal 32 Poems and lives with his wife and their three young children in Washington, Pennsylvania.

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

Isobel Dixon is the author of Weather Eye, A Fold in the Map and The Tempest Prognosticator and co-wrote and performed in The Debris Field. In 2016 Mariscat will publish a pamphlet, The Leonids, and Nine Arches will publish her new collection, Bearings.

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.

Victoria Gatehouse lives in Yorkshire. Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Mslexia, Magma, The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House, Prole and Furies. Her competition wins and placements include Ilkley and Mslexia, and she is currently working on a first collection.

Mary Gilonne is a translator from Devon, who has lived in France for many years. She has won the 2015 Wenlock Prize and been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2010, 2011, 2015) and commended for the Teignmouth and Caterpillar Prizes (2015). She is working hopefully towards her first collection.

Stephanie Green has an MPhil in Creative Writing from Glasgow University. Her latest pamphlet is Flout (HappenStance, 2015). She is a Creative Writing tutor and also reviews Theatre and Dance. Originally London-based, she moved, via Wales, to Edinburgh in 2000. See

Robert Hamberger was first prizewinner in Chroma’s International Queer Writing Competition in 2006. His full-length collections include The Smug Bridegroom (Five Leaves, 2002) and Torso (Redbeck, 2007). His fourth collection, Blue Wallpaper, is forthcoming from Waterloo Press. He lives in Brighton.

Ramona Herdman is working on a pamphlet for publication by HappenStance in 2017. She was one of the Poetry Trust’s Aldeburgh Eight in 2011. Lately, she is writing mostly about alcohol. She tweets occasionally @ramonaherdman

Hilaire has published short stories and poetry in British and Australian magazines and several anthologies. Triptych Poets 1 (Blemish Books, 2010) featured a selection of her poems. She is working on a poetry collection with Joolz Sparkes, London Undercurrents, unearthing women’s voices north and south of the river.

Lynn Hoffman is a cook and a poet. He describes himself as a beer evangelist, spreading the good word of the good taste. He is author of The Bachelor’s Cat, bang-BANG, Radiation Days, The New Short Course in Wine, Short Course in Beer and Short Course in Rum.

James Horrocks is a writer and musician living in Bolton and born in Salford. He recently completed a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Manchester, specialising in poetry. His poems have been published in The Manchester Anthology 2014 and NowThen magazine.

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.

Victoria Kennefick’s debut poetry pamphlet, White Whale (Southword Editions, 2015), won the Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition 2014 and the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet in 2015. Follow her @VKennefick

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 2013.

Lancashire-born Angela Kirby lives in London but has spent time in France, Spain and America. She is the author of five books on food and gardening and her poems have been published widely. Her fourth poetry collection, The Days After Always: New and Selected Poems, was published by Shoestring Press in 2015.

Anja Konig grew up in the German language and now writes in English. Her first pamphlet, Advice for an Only Child, was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Award in 2015. Its advantages are: 1) it is very cheap, 2) it is very short.

Ali Lewis has work forthcoming in Brittle Star and Asterism. He organises the arts night Theme and was runner-up in the Poetry Book Fair competition. He is currently collaborating with the contemporary classical music group The Hermes Experiment, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths.

Holly Magill is a poet from Worcestershire. She has a BA in Creative Writing from University Of Birmingham and has had poems in various publications, including Nutshells and Nuggets, The Stare’s Nest and Three Drops & A Cauldron. She is fond of cats and strong tea above most things.

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. Her debut pamphlet, Ikhda, by Ikhda, was published by the Emma Press in 2014. She lives in Tréguier, France.

Amy McCauley’s poetry has been published widely in anthologies and magazines, including The Poetry of Sex (Penguin, 2014), Hallelujah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe, 2015) and Best British Poetry 2015 (Salt). She is a PhD candidate at Aberyswtyth University and Poetry Editor for New Welsh Review.

Laura McKee’s poems have appeared in journals including Other Poetry, Obsessed With Pipework and The Journal. In 2015 she was nominated for Best Single Poem at the Forward Prizes, was a winner in the Guernsey International Poetry Competition, and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.

Fiona Moore lives in Greenwich. Her second pamphlet, Night Letter, was published by HappenStance in September 2015. She is assistant editor at The Rialto and blogs at Displacement.

Steve Nash is a writer, lecturer and terrible musician based in Yorkshire. He was named the 2014 Saboteur Spoken Word Performer of the Year and his first collection, Taking the Long Way Home, is available now from Stairwell Books.

Richard O’Brien’s poems have featured in Oxford Poetry and The Best British Poetry 2013, and in 2015 he won the sonnet category of the London Book Fair Poetry Prize. His pamphlets include The Emmores (Emma Press, 2014) and A Bloody Mess (Valley Press, 2015). He is working on a PhD in contemporary verse drama.

Camille Ralphs started in Stoke, and has studied in Lancaster, Cambridge and now Oxford. She is a senior poetry editor at The Missing Slate, and was 2014’s Cambridge editor-in-chief of The Mays Anthology. Her debut pamphlet, Malkin, was published by the Emma Press in 2015.

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.

Kristen Roberts is a poet from Melbourne. Her poems have won several awards and have been published in Award Winning Australian Writing, Quadrant, Australian Love Poems 2013 and page seventeen. Her first pamphlet, The Held and the Lost, was published in 2014 with the Emma Press.

Jacqueline Saphra’s The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye, 2011) was nominated for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. An illustrated book of prose poems, If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women, was published by the Emma Press in 2014 and won the Saboteur Award for Best Collaborative Work.

Lawrence Schimel was born in New York and has lived in Madrid, Spain, for over 17 years. He is the author of two poetry pamphlets in English – Fairy Tales for Writers and Deleted Names – and a full collection in Spanish, Desayuno en la cama, as well as a collection of erotic short stories, His Tongue.

Stephen Sexton lives in Belfast, where he is studying at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. His poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland, Poetry London and Best British Poetry 2015. His pamphlet, Oils (Emma Press, 2014), was the 2015 PBS Winter Pamphlet Choice.

Natalie Shaw lives and works in London. Her work has appeared in various print and online journals and anthologies, most recently And Other Poems and Paper Swan’s Schooldays.

Di Slaney is a smallholder, marketing consultant and publisher from Nottinghamshire. She co-owns Candlestick Press, and her poems have been widely published. She won first prize in the 2014 Brittle Star and 2015 Four Corners poetry competitions. Her first full collection, Reward for Winter, is available from Valley Press.

Ruth Stacey is a writer, artist, librarian and tutor. Her debut collection, Queen, Jewel, Mistress, was published by Eyewear in 2015. Her pamphlet, Fox Boy, was published by Dancing Girl Press in 2014. She designs the covers for V. Press poetry pamphlets and lives in Worcestershire.

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.

Kelley Swain is a writer and editor based in London. She is the author of several books of poetry, a novel, and a forthcoming memoir – The Naked Muse (Valley Press) – as well as a contributor to The Lancet. Kelley is a member of the Nevada Street Poets.

Ali Thurm was born in Tynemouth and brought up in the north of England. She now lives in London with her three children. She teaches, writes poetry and short stories, and is working on a novel, The Quiet Water Spy.

Sara-Mae Tuson is a freelance editor and copywriter. She has had short fiction, poetry and articles published in a wide range of publications, including the Salt anthology Overheard, Scouting magazine, Ink, Sweat and Tears, Obsessed with Pipework, 433, Trespass, The London Magazine, Inky Needles, Rising and more.

Nicola Warwick was born in Kent and now lives in Suffolk, where she works in local government. Her first collection, Groundings, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2014.

Ruth Wiggins lives in London. Her work has appeared in UK magazines and anthologies, and has been commended in recent competitions. Her first pamphlet, Myrtle, was published in 2014 by the Emma Press. Her photography book, Wonder Women of America, was published in 2008. She blogs at Mudpath.

Jerrold Yam (b. 1991) is the Singaporean author of three poetry collections: Intruder (2014), Scattered Vertebrae (2013) and Chasing Curtained Suns (2012). He has received awards from the British Council, National University of Singapore and Poetry Book Society, and been nominated for the Forward and Pushcart Prizes.
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