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

Another fantastic cellar-club night on Monday, where we welcomed an audience of 120 to join us in celebrating one of our great & vital poetry institutions, The Poetry School, with two of its long-standing tutors, Tamar Yoseloff & Mimi Khalvati, introducing an amazingly eclectic poetry programme: plus songs from Rosie Taylor whose guitar-playing won praise from one of our audience members (& no mean guitar-picker himself) one Jimmy Page of the Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, &c…

And we’ll have another 25 (!) poets to read on Monday 1st December, that’s 1st, 2nd & 3rd prizewinners in our annual Troubadour International Poetry Prize (last year’s 1st & 3rd came from Tokyo & Minneapolis respectively), plus recipients of our 20 smaller prizes, plus this year’s prestigious poet-judges, both editors of key contemporary poetry presses, Amy Wack of Seren Books & Neil Astley of Bloodaxe Books. Plus the fun of seeing one poet walk away with a £5,000 cheque donated by Cegin Productions.

A very special celebration in what‘s proved a superlative season so far. Don’t miss…

next event

mon 1 dec: eighth annual troubadour international poetry prize night: neil astley, amy wack & 2014 prizewinners

Join the rest of the poetry world in the excitement of discovering who’s won the prestigious £5,000 Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2014, listen to the 23 best poems chosen from hundreds submitted by poets around the world, & listen to poems (& comments on the prizewinning poems) from the highly-respected poetry-editor judges who’ll have made those choices: Wales based Seren Books editor, Amy Wack b. Florida, studied at San Diego Univ. & Columbia Univ. & Bloodaxe Books editor & founder Neil Astley, studied Newcastle Univ., 1982 Eric Gregory Award, has 2 poetry collections & 2 novels & edited the highly-acclaimed anthologies Staying Alive (2002), Being Alive (2004) & Being Human (2011)

First prize sponsored by Cegin Productions

readings - oct-dec 2014 - troubadour60

mondays 8-10 pm, £8 (concs. £7)

advance booking: 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

  • mon 6 oct: stateside troubadours with poets: philip fried, margo taft stever, tim nolan, susana case, robert peake, jennifer millitello, daphne warburg astor & owen lewis with henry fajemirokun
  • mon 20 oct: what we should have said: an entertaining, enlightening, innovative & unpredictable spoken-word shindig with paul farley, jean sprackland, richard douglas pennant, marios takoushis & stuart silver with — before the break — Faber Academy tutors jo shapcott & daljit nagra with recent Faber Academy poets…
  • mon 3 nov: an evening with roger mcgough: leading liverpool poet, performer & radio4 poetry presenter, roger mcgough, with songs from bernadette reed
  • mon 17 nov: poetry school poets: plus poetry school tutors mimi khalvati & tamar yoseloff with songs from rosie taylor
  • mon 1 dec: eighth annual troubadour international poetry prize night: neil astley, amy wack & 2014 prizewinners
  • mon 15 dec: out of the blue! azure-themed end-of-season reading with invited guest poets & favourite poems of blue eyes, Mediterranean seas, indigo nights, deep blue moods…

See full details of this season’s poetry readings

classes - oct-dec 2014 - troubadour60

hh4. sundays 12-3.30 pm, £28 (concs. £24)

advance booking only, as our workshops/classes (limited to 15 attendees) are frequently oversubscribed: send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON, W4 1ZP

  • sun 16 nov, locked rooms: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe
  • sun 30 nov, electric light: a seamus heaney seminar with c.l. dallat
  • sun 14 dec, stop all the clocks: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe

NB: each of the above workshops was over-subscribed last season & has a waiting list but all 3 have places available…

See full details of this season’s classes and workshops

…poetry prize judges Neil Astley & Amy Wack read along with 2014 prizewinners on Mon 1st Dec


For Mr. G. P. and Mr. G. A.


Now I work without that sign following
D, prior to F. I follow you,
writing about an owl fascinating
my soul, Mr. G. P., far from haiku.

Did you catch calls of an owl in a park
in Paris sounding again and again?
You did? I, too, pick up this song at dark
singing not-‘twhoo’ but ‘coo hmm’ in misty rain.

Did you think of this owl as a symbol
of sharp-sightly wisdom in Paris?
In Shanghai this owl signals sin and ill
and bad luck, on a par with cannabis.

In your world, if an Asian owl should light
on you, would you call it or avoid it?


Mr. G. A., your brilliant translation
A VOID migrating. landing on my hand,
I, too, look for ‘hoot’ in variation,
using lipography just as you did.

With your notation, ‘twhoo pht’ ‘twhoo pfft’ ‘twhoo pht’ ‘twhoo pfft’ ‘twhooo’,
Do you hark to hoots of an Asian owl?
With my notation, ‘coo hmm’ ‘coo hmmm’ ‘coo hmm’ ‘coo hmmm’ ‘cooo’,
Do you grasp such whoops as fair or foul?

An individual ululation
has multi-marks and plural compound chords
varying on points, skirting all canons
that control thoughts, though producing discords.

‘Hmm’, ‘twhoo pht’ ‘coo pht’ ‘twhooo pht’ ‘cooo pht’ ‘twhoo hmm’ ‘coo hmm’ ‘twhoo pfft’ ‘coo pfft’.
How would you hoot owl’s fuzzy sound? Just how?


Thoughtful old owl, you stand in a brown oak.
You do not talk, you do but mull and gird;
You do but mull and gird, you do not talk;
Not all can do as you do, thoughtful bird.

O awful owl, you scowl in a ginkgo.
You go off, swooping out, and up and down.
And a dark bass doom thrums in your lingo.
How swift is your flight, how grim is your frown!

In soft wind, twhoo by twhoo, ‘twhoo pht’ ‘twhoo pht’ ‘twhoo pfft’ ‘twhoo’
is ‘coo hrnm’ ‘coo hrnm’ ‘coo hrnmm’ ‘coo hrnmm’ ‘cooo hm’ ‘cooo hm’ ‘coo’ ‘coo’ ‘hoot’,
or ‘uu ho’ ‘uuu ho’ ‘uuuu ho’ ‘uu ho’ ‘uuu’.
And your singular cry grows variant.

And although mystical your haunting call,
owl is owl is owl for you — that is all.

Mr. G. P. is Georges Perec who wrote the novel ‘La Disparition’ (‘A VOID’).
Mr. G. A. is Gilbert Adair who translated the novel into English.

Hideko Sueoka
First prize in 2013 Troubadour International Poetry Prize

autumn 2014 newsletter

Date: 1st September 2014

Dear Autumn Poets

Great to be back in town for the final season of our Troubadour60 year, a fizzingly celebratory line-up that features Troubadour favourites like Roger McGough (in-conversation!), Mimi Khalvati, Neil Astley, Paul Farley, Amy Wack, Tamar Yoseloff & Jean Sprackland, along with a selection of transatlantic poets in our kick-off US showcase, our 2014 Poetry Prize winners, a school of up-&-coming Poetry School poets & the best of London’s trending poets at our end-of season party (with its blue, blue theme).

I’m just settling in after an exciting Jul/Aug, with a poetry-filled, as always, Hewitt Summer School week in Armagh, & an even more poetry-packed time at L’Age Baston, in France, where Troubadour regulars escaped from summer-in-the-city to workshop daily in a luxury château & its inspirational landscape: plus dejeuners al-fresco, village walks, discussions under Van-Gogh starry night skies , literary quizzes, readings, fiendish mind-games, charades, story-telling, & yes, in true Troubadour cellar-club style, singing into the small hours, & much jiving…

More news of next year’s residential courses here on website — in due course — & by e-mail, if you’ve signed up for our newsletter. You’ll also notice that creative-writing workshops this season repeat some of last season’s titles as so many were disappointed when the new themes booked-up so quickly…

Meanwhile I’m looking forward to the usual high standard of submissions for the (eighth!) Troubadour International Poetry Prize with, for the first time ever, a £5,000 first prize sponsored by Cegin Productions. And looking forward to a great prize-winners event on 1st Dec.

Advance-booking’s particularly recommended for the Roger McGough (plus music, plus interview) night as Roger has such wide appeal, & as our ‘evening-with’ events invariably end as ‘standing-room only’, as with Paul Muldoon, Mark Doty, Billy Collins, Jorie Graham etc…

Read more …

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

Other content: copyright © Coffee–House Poetry 2008–2014. 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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