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

Blue is the colour, or certainly was at Out-of-the-Blue! on Monday night (15th Dec): from everyone wearing something blue, to the dazzling palette of blue poems, right down to the end-of-evening bonus bottle of Blue Nun for the evening’s special contribution. Another fun cellar-club happening in a very special year of Troubadour60 celebrations.

So it’s time for a big end-of-year thanks to all who attended our readings & workshops throughout this special year, all the poets who performed including Paul Muldoon, Imtiaz Dharker, Roger McGough, Mimi Khalvati, Paul Farley, Maurice Riordan, Jo Shapcott, Louis De Bernières, Daljit Nagra, Helen Mort, Sean O’Brien, Vona Groarke, Michael Mackmin, Jackie Wills, Jean Sprackland, Philip Gross, Tamar Yoseloff, Ian Gregson, Ahren Warner & literally dozens more readers in showcase events, party evenings & now, before-the-break on What We Should Have Said nights… And thanks to our many wonderful musicians too!

Major thanks to Cegin Productions who sponsor the £5,000 first prize in our annual Troubadour International Poetry Prize, plus a massive thank-you to this year’s prize judges, Amy Wack & Neil Astley for their work & poetry wisdom.

And a final thank-you for the thousands of poems so many of you submitted this year: (you can check some of them out on our poems page). News of next year’s prize deadline & judges will be up soon on prizes page, with next double-season’s events Jan-Jun 2015 to be posted/circulated late-Dec/early-Jan: if you’re not already on our regular list, do add your e-mail address via our sign-up page…

All best wishes for Christmas & the New Year.

next event

next event will be mon 26 jan, full details to follow

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…

Time for blue-skies thinking! We all remember Auden’s Refugee Blues & Langston Hughes’ Weary Blues …but blue has myriad lighter shades: in Mary Oliver’s Blue Iris, Lowell’s Waking in the Blue, Louise Glück’s blue sky, blue ice (in Blue Rotunda), Housman’s blue remembered hills, Jane Hirshfield’s net of blue and gold, Wallace Stevens’ Man With a Blue Guitar or the robin’s egg blue tiles in Medbh McGuckian’s Four O’Clock, Summer Street.

Blue abounds, not just in clothing (Hardy’s air-blue gown, Sharon Olds’ Blue Dress, Ted Hughes’ Blue Flannel Suit or Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat) but in nature, from Anne Brontë’s Bluebell, Hardy’s Pair of Blue Eyes, Lawrence’s fountains of blue (in Mystic Blue) & Rattigan’s Deep Blue Sea, to the blue light in Jorie Graham’s San Sepolcro, the azure that triumphs in Mallarmé’s L’Azur…

The only place Billy Collins wants to visit, it seems is The Blue, not the Wild Blue Yonder, but ‘the blue’ that the unexpected comes ‘out of…’

A once-in-a-blue-moon chance to kick away the winter blues: come along & hear invited guest poets read kind-of-blue poems (their own & those by other poets) listen to blue-themed music, & try our prize quiz where the answers come, likely as not, out of the blue

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

Little Blue Interior, Henri Matisse, 1947 (see ‘Out of the Blue!’, Mon 15th Dec)

The Man with the Blue Guitar


The man bent over his guitar,
A shearsman of sorts. The day was green.

They said, “You have a blue guitar,
You do not play things as they are.”

The man replied, “Things as they are
Are changed upon the blue guitar.”

And they said then, “But play, you must,
A tune beyond us, yet ourselves,

A tune upon the blue guitar
Of things exactly as they are.”


I cannot bring a world quite round,
Although I patch it as I can.

I sing a hero’s head, large eye
And bearded bronze, but not a man,

Although I patch him as I can
And reach through him almost to man.

If to serenade almost to man
Is to miss, by that, things as they are,

Say it is the serenade
Of a man that plays a blue guitar.

Wallace Stevens
from The Man with the Blue Guitar & Other Poems (Knopf, 1937)

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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