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

Update re poetry-prize judging: Adam O’Riordan, who was to be one of our 2015 prize judges, has to pull out as he will be in the US & would be away for both the judging period & the prizewinners’ celebration on Mon Nov 30th at the Troubadour. We’re sad Adam’s had to pull out (but congratulations on his forthcoming US publication). And we’re more than delighted that the wonderful poet & critic John McAuliffe (4 Gallery Press collections) has agreed to judge & is looking forward to reading all your great submissions & discussing/deciding with Jean Sprackland.

We’re open for submissions right through to Mon Oct 19th, so keep that £5,000 prize in mind when you’re working on your poems this summer, & don’t forget, you can check out submission rules/details on our prizes page, & previous years’ winners on our poems pages.

Have a great poetry summer!

next event

mon 22 jun: too darn hot! invited guest poets celebrate broiling city summers, simmering heatwaves, shimmering mirages, parched deserts & tropical weather: plus music & prize-quiz

Wm. Shakespeare advised us to Fear no more the heat of the sun (advice Clarissa Dalloway took to heart) & Noël Coward noted that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun but poets seemingly can’t avoid sweltering in the punishing sun (Seamus Heaney’s Death of a Naturalist), in that superlatively sweltering month, July (C.P.Cavafy, Bodies), can’t escape the sun’s hot eye (in Matthew Arnold’s A Summer Night), can’t ignore its petalled head of flames/ Continuously exploding (Philip Larkin’s Solar), in country — one afternoon/ Of heat (Edward Thomas in Adlestrop) – or city – It was stifling/ A starless drought (Eavan Boland in The Black Lace Fan My Mother Gave Me).

Heat even produces its own derangements, John Donne & Frank O’Hara actually holding conversations with Phoebus/Apollo at his height, the potential suicide in Sharon Olds’ Summer Solstice, New York City, the killing à cause du soleil at the heart of L’Étranger by Albert Camus, subject of Derek Mahon’s Death and the Sun.

Literary genius is, apparently, only 1% inspiration & 99% perspiration as a host of novel-, film- & song-titles testify: Body Heat, Tropical Heat, Light in August, Under the Volcano, White Heat, Tropic Thunder, Hot-Hot-Hot, Instructions for a Heatwave, Steam Heat, The Heat of the Day, Some Like it Hot, Up on the Roof, August is a Wicked Month, In the Heat of the Night, The Big Heat, Heat & Dust…

So what better way to celebrate the height of midsummer than to join us in our summer in the city cellar-club as invited guests turn the thermostat to max with their own & others’ poems of heat-waves, dog-days, humid afternoons, tropical climates… with just a touch of le jazz hot & our am-I-getting warm? prize-quiz that’s not just for hotshots!

readings - may-jun 2015

mondays 8-10 pm, £7 at the troubadour

  • mon 11 may: spring into summer with r.a. villanueva, miranda peake, inua ellams, tim richardson, scarlett sabet, will burns, roisin tierney, & mark huband with henry fajemirokun
  • mon 25 may: what we should have said: an entertaining, enlightening, innovative & unpredictable spoken-word shindig with michelle boisseau, robert seatter, frances leviston, huw warren & stuart silver—plus, before the break… letterpresspoets: daphne astor, patrizia longhitano, angela croft, mark huband, teresa mayoub, george beddow, bear shaw, gill petrie, fiona larkin, jim alderson, angela croft, katherine lockton, kate ghyll, derek summers, katy mack, caroline donnelly, mel hormead, marian fielding, michael baron, janet remmington, mary powell
  • mon 8 jun: smiths knoll pamphlets: with phil hancock, marianne burton, stephen payne, lydia harris, chris dodd, margaret wilmot, philip polecoff, kath mckay & andrew kerr introduced by michael laskey & joanna cutts
  • mon 22 jun: too darn hot! invited guest poets celebrate broiling city summers, simmering heatwaves, shimmering mirages, parched deserts & tropical weather: plus music & prize-quiz

for advance booking: pay via PayPal on our readings page or send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON, W4 1ZP stating event & no. of tickets

See full details of this season’s poetry readings

classes - may-jun 2015

sundays 12-3.30 pm, £28 at the troubadour (yeats walk, sun 21st jun 2.30-5 pm, £18)

  • may/jun workshops, further details to follow
  • sun 14 jun: a bridge too far: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe
  • sun 21 jun: land of heart’s desire: a w.b. yeats walk with c.l. dallat
  • full programme details below PayPal options

advance booking only as our workshops/classes (limited to 15 attendees) are frequently oversubscribed: pay via PayPal on our workshops/classes page or send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON, W4 1ZP: if overbooked you will be informed by e-mail & refunded promptly

See full details of this season’s classes and workshops

Too Darn Hot! sizzling summer in the city poetry-party & prize quiz, Mon 22nd…

from… A True Account Of Talking To The Sun On Fire Island

The Sun woke me this morning loud
and clear, saying Hey! I’ve been
trying to wake you up for fifteen
minutes. Don’t be so rude, you are
only the second poet I’ve ever chosen
to speak to personally

so why
aren’t you more attentive? If I could,
burn you through the window I would
to wake you up. I can’t hang around
here all day.

Sorry, Sun, I stayed
up late last night talking to Hal.

When I woke up Mayakovsky he was
a lot more prompt the Sun said
petulantly. Most people are up
already waiting to see if I’m going
to put in an appearance.

I tried
to apologize I missed you yesterday.
That’s better he said. I didn’t
know you’d come out. You may be
wondering why I’ve come so close?
Yes I said beginning to feel hot
wondering if maybe he wasn’t burning me


Frank O’Hara
(Paris Review, Winter ’68)

summer 2015 newsletter

Date: 1st May 2015

Dear Poetry Fans

Welcome to summer in the city at the Troubadour with three great multi-poet events & a mega-multi-poet midsummer’s celebration of poems—familiar or freshly-minted—on our theme, Too Darn Hot! on 22nd June.

First up on May 11th we’ll be listening to eight great poets in our ‘spring into summer’ sampler/showcase, some with several pamphlets/collections to their names, some just starting to make their mark.

To top that our June 8th event offers no less than nine poets reading to celebrate one of our best-loved poetry institutions, Smiths Knoll, with co-founding editor Michael Laskey introducing — along with co-editor Joanna Cutts — poets they’ve admired & encouraged through magazine publication & mentorship schemes & who’ve recently appeared in Smiths Knoll Pamphlets.

And between those two events, do come & spend Spring Bank Holiday Monday evening with us enjoying poetry in a dramatically different format as What We Should Have Said weaves together Huw Warren’s jazz/fusions with the weirdly witty ruminations of writer/director Stuart Silver & the impromptu poetic interpolations of three very different poetic voices, Francis Leviston, Michelle Boisseau & Robert Seatter. With, as a bonus, a poem each, in the first half, from no less than 21 up-&-coming Letter Press Poets.

Primary colours have dominated some of our recent poetry-party events with Out of the Blue!, Simply Red & Big Yellow Taxi! but it’s heat rather than hue that’s sending the cellar-club’s poetic temperature shooting in our Too Darn Hot! poetry party with poets on-fire with poems of humid heat-waves, sweltering dog-days & sizzling sunsets: and just a touch of hot piano jazz & our prize-quiz which, as ever, we’re hoping doesn’t end in a dead heat!

Workshops/classes for the season are 14th June’s A Bridge Too Far, (in the Troubadour Gallery, a re-run for all those we couldn’t fit in last time, plus some more…) & Land of Heart’s Desire, a West London literary walk celebrating the 150th birthday of London-Irish poet W.B. Yeats… And watch out for lots more Yeats/Bedford-Park events in June.

All this, plus the mustn’t-miss £5,000 Troubadour International Poetry Prize judged this year by Adam O’Riordan & Jean Sprackland though its deadline isn’t until October, so lots of time to perfect the poetic possibles…

A lively summer season & still (including Too Darn Hot!) the hottest ticket in town though it won’t burn a hole in your pocket at only £7 per event …& the hottest season ticket in town at 20% off (i.e. £22.40 for all 4 events). To book, use PayPal on our readings & classes pages, or send

Read more …

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

Other content: copyright © Coffee–House Poetry 2008–2015. All rights reserved.

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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