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

What a great welcome back for poetry after the break, such a range of voices &, as ever, a packed house, a discerning audience, & that warming & supportive cellar-club ambience & literary buzz that makes our poetry evenings so enjoyable & rewarding…

Great things coming up between now & March — the full Spring & Summer programmes are on our readings page — & next-up’s certainly a high spot with journalist/novelist/memoirist Blake Morrison see poem, right) extemporising alongside leading Irish poet Theo Dorgan & new(-ish) London poet Mona Arshi, who took second prize in our Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2015, with 20 or so former Troubadour International Poetry Prize winners each reading their prizewinning poem in the first half!

Speaking of prizes, details of this year’s 2015 £5,000 Troubadour International Poetry Prize, prizes, judges, deadlines etc on our prizes page, & you can enjoy reading last (& previous) year’s winning poems on our poems page(s)… Never to soon to start writing that Troubadour Prize masterpiece.

See you all on Feb 9th…

next event

mon 9 feb: blake morrison, theo dorgan, mona arshi, marios takoushis & stuart silver in what we should have said, an entertaining, enlightening, innovative & unpredictable spoken-word shindig plus before the break… a selection of troubadour international poetry prize winners

Sponsored by Cegin Productions

Further adventures & extravagations in yet another episode of the Troubadour’s unique Cegin-sponsored poetry segué with musical & philosophical interventions…

  • writer/perfomer/director Stuart Silver offers his own idiosyncratic take on life & its meanings,
  • classical pianist/composer Marios Takoushis weaves a musical tapestry behind the words
  • & providing the spontaneous, off-the-cuff, un-prescheduled poetic foreground, our three guest poets:
  • multi-award-winning poet, poetry critic, & creative-writing professor at Goldsmith’s since 2003, Blake Morrison has worked as a literary journalist & written in a wide variety of fiction & non-fiction genres – his autobiographical And When Did You Last See Your Father? became a major feature film with Jim Broadbent – his latest collection is Shingle Street (Chatto, publ. 5 Feb 2015!)
  • Theo Dorgan’s latest poetry collection is Greek (Dedalus, 2010) & his latest novel is Making Way (New Island, 2013) – a former Director of Poetry Ireland/Éigse Éireann, his songs have been recorded by a number of musicians, his texts featured in Riverdance, & he has presented literary programmes on TV & radio for RTÉ
  • former Human Rights lawyer Mona Arshi was a winner in the 2013 Troubadour International Poetry Prize & joint first prizewinner in 2014’s Manchester Creative Writing Poetry Prize – her debut collection Small Hands is due in Spring 2015 from Pavilion Poetry/Liverpool University Press.

• plus, before the break, a selection of Troubadour International Poetry Prize Winners including Katy Mack, Ian McEwen, Alex Josephy, Louise Warren, Robert Peake, Rachel Piercy, Sue Rose, Cheryl Moskowitz, Diana Pooley, Caroline Smith, Christina Newton, Ellen Cranitch, Wendy French, Richard Aronowitz, June Lausch, Mara Bergman, Michael Swan, & Karen Green

readings - jan-jun 2015

mondays 8-10 pm, £7 at the troubadour

  • mon 26 jan: salon d’hiver with rishi dastidar, kate ghyll, agnieszka studzinska, soul patel, angela kirby, jacqueline saphra, nick mackinnon & laura scott with henry fajemirokun
  • mon 9 feb: blake morrison, theo dorgan, mona arshi, marios takoushis & stuart silver in what we should have said, an entertaining, enlightening, innovative & unpredictable spoken-word shindig plus before the break… a selection of troubadour international poetry prize winners
  • mon 23 feb: an evening with john montague: rare chance to hear major irish poet john montague reading & in-interview, with songs from world runners, josie frater & steve taylor
  • mon 9 mar: big yellow taxi! themed spring/easter reading on yellowhammers, yellow bicycles, yellow brick roads (& just possibly daffodils!) with invited guest poets, music, prize-quiz
  • easter break
  • 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, francis leviston, marios takoushis & stuart silver
  • 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 - jan-jun 2015

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

  • sun 8 feb: the magic of realism: neruda, vallejo & paz with c.l. dallat
  • sun 22 feb: a bridge too far: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe
  • may/jun workshops, further details to follow
  • 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

See full details of this season’s classes and workshops

blake morrison – who joins our poetry impromptu ‘what we should have said’ (9 feb, see next event, below left) with his long-awaited & just-published collection, ‘shingle street’, (see poem below)…


Before the rain sets in
on the last day in August
I take the empties to the dump —
gin, vodka, wine, Pimms —

and stuff them in the mouth
of the bottle bank which gapes
in mock surprise at so much
having been got through so fast,

mock because it knows by now
how our summers are passed
and the glasses are refilled
with friends round a wooden table

while the swallows dip
and the wheat ripens
and none of us thinking
that today will come,

with the bottles empty
and wasps circling like sharks
as the glass smashes
in the dark of the metal bin.

Blake Morrison
…from Shingle Street (Vintage, publ. 5th February 2015)

spring/summer 2015 newsletter

Date: 1st January 2015

Dear Poetry Fans

Welcome to our New Year’s revolution: as our unique response to austerity & ubiquitous arts-underfunding, & as part of our mission to keep poetry not just alive & lively but accessible as well, we’re not simply NOT PUTTING UP admission, but we’re PUTTING THE CLOCK BACK to the £7 admission level we first introduced 5 years ago: it’s been £8 (£7 concs) for the past few years, but as part of making booking & payment easier via PayPal/website (& simplifying admin) we’re doing away with the concession ‘differential’ so students/concessions will yet again see no price increase & full admissions will see a real reduction.

All that holding prices & making poetry possible is a direct result of the maxed-out attendances we hit in our Troubadour60 anniversary year — a consequence, too, of the worldwide support for the Troubadour International Poetry Prize & of course, of the £5,000 first-prize sponsorship we receive from Cegin Productions.

So what else is happening cellar-club-wise in our combined Spring/Summer 2015 season? Two amazing showcases of new & familiar voices, for a start, eight poets in each, with two fun end-of-season party nights & two what-we-should’ve-said’s, as ever, & as curtain-raiser to our 9th Feb gig, a selection from last & previous years’ Troubadour Poetry Prize winners, a chance to hear again some of our judges’ best picks over the years from the poets who wrote them.

Plus a Troubadour celebration of one of our best-loved poetry institutions, Smith’s Knoll, with co-founding editor Michael Laskey introducing — along with co-editor Joanna Cutts — some of the poets they’ve admired & encouraged through magazine publication & mentorship schemes & who’ve recently appeared in Smiths Knoll Pamphlets.

And on Monday 23rd February we’ve something of a Troubadour exclusive: first London opportunity in many years to hear – & to hear from, in interview – John Montague: a seminal figure in 20c Irish poetry & a solitary voice in the North in the 1950s, John paved the way for Heaney, Longley, Mahon & the generations that followed. A long-time resident of France, he will read, & talk about the poet’s life in conversation with C.L. Dallat (plus music from World Runners).

As to those poetry-party evenings where invited guest poets take liberties with increasingly diverse themes, I’ve caved in to public pressure after last month’s Out-Of-The-Blue! — which produced such stunning poetry & a sparkling party atmosphere — & agreed to ‘yellow’, or rather Big Yellow Taxi! for our Spring event. Think Easter chicks, think Wordsworth’s daffodils fluttering & dancing in the breeze, among lots of the more electrifying, or subtler, or sinisterly shaded meanings of yellow. (Yes, having had ‘red’ & ‘blue’ parties over the past couple of years we could have completed our Kieslowski Three Colours trilogy with ‘white’ but we all know Happiness writes white!).

And our midsummer (22nd June) gathering, Too Darn Hot! has guests upping the temperature with poems of humid heat-waves & sweltering dog-days: with just a touch of hot jazz on piano & our prize-quiz which we’re hoping doesn’t end in a dead heat!

Sundays’ workshops/classes include themed workshop, A Bridge Too Far, The Magic of Realism on Latin American poets (both Troubadour Gallery) & Land of Heart’s Desire, a Chiswick literary walk celebrating the 150th birthday of London-Irish poet W.B. Yeats, with lots more Yeats/Bedford-Park events

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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