Poetry Readings, Classes and Prizes at the Troubadour: 263-267 Old Brompton Road, London SW5

“… life, literature, and the pursuit of happiness in the famous Troubadour cellar-club, London’s liveliest and best–loved poetry landmark since the 1950s …”

Former US Poet-Laureate Billy Collins on the Troubadour’s 60th birthday as a writer’s café…
           Thanks to the zeal of its many managers and promoters, the Troubadour has evolved over its 60 year history from a hidden-away beatnik coffee house to a world famous center for the performance of music and poetry. Its walls have become storied, and if only the place had halls, they would be hallowed. The Troubadour was the scene of the first reading I gave in the UK, and I count myself among the long line of poets who are eager to return and darken its doorway again.


from Coffee-House Poetry organiser, Anne-Marie Fyfe

Thanks to all 112 of you who turned out, despite threatened (& eventually cancelled) Tube disruption, & threatened (& sadly not cancelled!) downpours…

And thanks to the three Dooleys & twenty Faber Academy poets for a superb evening of readings. Every single poem in part-one was a hit with the audience, including (a measure of our times perhaps) one or two shrewdly satirical reflections on our present state!

And the sequence, the sonata, the Troubadour symphony that Maura Dooley, Tim Dooley & Terence Dooley created (the clue was in the event’s title, Sibling Poetries), worked beautifully as one poem followed another uninterrupted, as themes & ideas developed & shifted, words, individual voices weaving/building into a perfect concerto.

Thinking of last night’s homebound umbrellas… should mention that next-up’s Weather Report, (20th Feb, see right) a themed poetry gathering where invited guest poets will dazzle us with their sunshine, drench us in rain poems, buffet us with twisters & blizzards, real, incidental, circumstantial, contingent, allegorical, metaphorical or merely allusive. As our latest Nobel Literature Laureate puts it You don’t need a weatherman/ To know which way the wind blows.

So don’t miss the Troubadour’s party-night atmospherics, with weather-themed interval music, a Rain or Shine? weather-quiz & the excitement of seeing which poets’ poem claims the bonus prize for best weather-poem of the evening.

readings - jan-jun 2017

mondays 8-10 pm, £7 at the troubadour

for advance booking: pay via PayPal (on readings page) or cheque to Coffee-House Poetry at PO Box 16210, LONDON W4 1ZP

  • mon 23 jan: salon d’hiver with abigail parry, raymond antrobus, susan wicks, matthew caley, rachel long, alex josephy, wendy klein & cliff yates plus singer/guitarist henry fajemirokun
  • mon 6 feb: sibling poetries with maura dooley, tim dooley & terence dooley swap poems & themes in an inventive impromptu, plus, before the break, faber academy alumni
  • mon 20 feb: weather report: poetry party with invited guest readers, music & prize-quiz on/around the themes of sun, wind, rain, showers, snow…
  • easter break
  • mon 15 may: spring fever: with elaine gaston, jon stone, claire dyer, alistair noon, ruth sharman, nick makoha, michael scott & penny boxall plus singer/guitarist henry fajemirokun
  • mon 29 may states of writing: with d. nurkse, reading & in-conversation plus, before the break, students from university of north florida, plus singer/guitarist mark ari
  • mon 12 jun: a matter of life & death: the much-loved, & award-winning, michigan poet, essayist & undertaker, thomas lynch, reading & in-conversation
  • mon 26 jun: planet earth: poetry party with guest readers, music & prize-quiz on the theme of planets & perseids, stars & satellites, orbits, galaxies & constellations…

See full details of this season’s poetry readings

classes - jan-jun 2017

sundays 12-3.30 pm, £28 at the troubadour

advance booking only as our workshops/classes (limited to 15 attendees) are frequently oversubscribed: pay via PayPal (see classes page) or cheque to Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON W4 1ZP: if overbooked you’ll be informed by e-mail & refunded promptly

  • sun 29 jan, 12-3.30 pm: in the clouds: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe
  • sun 12 feb, 12-3.30 pm: in the clouds: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe*
  • sun 26 feb, 12-3.30 pm: in the clouds: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe
  • sun 28 may, 12-3.30 pm: masterclass: critical workshop with d. nurkse
  • sun 11 jun, 12-3.30 pm: genre bending: writing workshop with thomas lynch
  • & do check website later for further jan-jun workshops or join our newsletter

See full details of this season’s classes and workshops

“Stormy Weather”, Frederick Varley

next event

mon 20 feb: weather report: poetry party with guest readers, music & prize-quiz, on/around the themes of wind, hail, showers, cloud-cover & sunlight…

I get all the news I need from the weather report, Paul Simon says: but writers get more than news from the weather’s infinite variety, from Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain to The Beatles’ Good Day Sunshine, or the range of mood-altering possibilities experienced in sunnier, or wilder & more tempest-riven, climes…

… from George Herbert’s Storm & TS Eliot’s yellow fog that rubs its back upon the windowpanes, through to more contemporary poetic evocations Medbh McGuckian’s Snapdragon, choosing cloudy weather, the mantle of weather in Jorie Graham’s San Sepolcro, Paul Muldoon’s New Weather, Ruth Padel’s Icicles Round a Tree in Dumfriesshire & former Troubadour prizewinners, Marilyn Francis’ The Waltzer in Sunlight, Diana Pooley’s Heatwave & Mary O’Donnell’s A Young Fisherman Waits for the Weather to Change.

The use of weather similes & metaphors is ubiquitous, with Wordsworth lonely as a cloud, mercy dropping, according to Shakespeare, as the gentle rain from heaven, & weather a substitute for something, surely, in Emily Dickinson’s last words: Let us go in:, she said, the fog is rising.

Book, film & song titles abound too… Gone With the Wind, Stormy Weather, The Sun Also Rises, Snow Falling on Cedars, House of Sand & Fog, Cloud Atlas, The Ice Storm, Henderson the Rain King… But if we list too many of these, our quiz-questions on the night (which are always easy-peasy) will be even easier!

Come along to hear invited guest poets’ weather-report poem-choices, their own work, some written in Troubadour Sunday Gallery workshops perhaps, or poems by famous weather-watching poets of the past, listen to meteorologically-themed music; pit your weather-wits against our famously not-too-literary literary quiz & hear whose storm-tossed, rain-beaten, snow-drifted poem & performance wins our party-night bonus prize!


Date: 6th January 2017

Dear Poetry Fans

A surprising Christmas to New Year break with bright days, clear skies, mild nights, & some time for blue-skies thinking, quite literally, as our first Sunday Gallery workshop, In the Clouds, explores clouds in all their impressive & oppressive magnificence & tedium, our first party night, Weather Report, celebrates meteorological poetry (or poems with at least a tenuous weather connection!) & Planet Earth, our midsummer celebration — under classic clear solstice night skies — will have us listening to (& reading) poems on planets, perseids, meteor showers & every known form of heavenly body.

But time for metaphorical blue-skies thinking too, as our recent programmes (& the very successful autumn season which kicked off our 20th Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour year) show, it’s very much your Troubadour, with more & more of our first-halves affording new & aspiring poets a chance to read on the famous Troubadour stage, whether as Dom Bury’s ‘before the break’ guest choices or Live Canon’s Shakespearean sonneteers last season or, this time, University of North Florida MFA students, & poetry alumni of London’s Faber Academy.

Both our showcases (in January & May) feature eight new poets or poets with new collections: & our party nights allow an increasing number of invited guest poets, Troubadour favourites & poets who are regular audience or workshop members, to read to an always-imaginative theme.

And when we talk of Troubadour favourites, among the outstanding successes of recent seasons has been our ‘evenings-with’ format, a mix of readings & conversation: & this time our guests are real Troubadour favourites: Thomas Lynch, who last read for us in 1999 when his Colloquies on life & death had just aired on Radio 4: since then his essays Bodies in Motion and at Rest, & his poems, have had major international success, & we’ve long been trying to have him back over from Michigan for a reading & workshop. And although Dennis Nurkse read only a year ago, reaction was so overwhelming (audience comments on the night, & yes, I do read all your e-mails!) that I’ve persuaded him to a return visit with both a Monday night event & a Sunday afternoon masterclass.

Both these poets’ readings & both their classes are sure to be in demand so booking as early as possible is advisable to avoid disappointment (via Paypal on readings & classes pages, or by cheque, see address below).

In terms of innovation, Troubadour audiences will certainly know of both Maura Dooley & Tim Dooley in the London poetry world, & may know of Terence Dooley as a West Country poet & a familiar name in poetry magazines. We’re not sure that any other venue anywhere has yet hosted three siblings reading together,

Read more …

Poems: copyright © various named authors. All rights reserved.

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The Troubadour is at 263–267 Old Brompton Road, London SW5.

See www.troubadour.co.uk for details, and our contact page for directions and a map.

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