The Verb Garden flowered for the first time in October 1999 as part of The Writearound Festival. Co-ordinated by Dougy Pincott, the event drew an audience of over 300 for a spoken word event, and attracted a wide cross section of individuals and organisations, from local writers, young artists, students, lecturers, refugees and people who had never before attended a poetry reading. Its success led to a follow up series of events in January, February, March under the theme of Transformations and brought Patience Agbabi, Bernardine Eravisto, and Debjani Chatterjee to Arc in Stockton on Tees. A fourth event in the series involved a poetry slam as part of The Livestock F.M Arts radio and Webcast. A more comprehensive programme is currently being organised for its launch in October 2000 at The Cornerhouse in Middlesbrough, with Tony Harrison.
The concept behind the project is to embrace the literary talents of Teesside writers while offering a platform for expression, alongside a nationally recognised writer. The event also includes, music digital visual effects, an open microphone slot, signing, and an alternative literature quiz, and positively encourages audience interaction.
The Verb Garden is supported by Amnesty International, The Northern Refugee Service, Waterstones in Middlesbrough, Northern Arts, Middlesbrough Borough Council and the English Department at The University of Teesside.