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

Dozens of amazing poems about mornings, sunrise, daybreak, awakening by our last-night-of-the-season guest poets (see Facebook for some audience pics) plus imaginative, sometimes tangential, poem-choices from Billy Collins, Sappho, Dannie Abse, Roger McGough, Rilke… With an audience of almost 100, highly congenial buzz, & some imaginative (if not entirely serious) quiz-question answers, we wrapped up an outstanding season with a splendid celebration.

We’re on Easter Break now (see below for next event) and I’m off Stateside for a string of Mid-West & mid-Manhattan (& Bronx & Hudson Valley etc) readings & college visits (see itinerary).

Meantime, keep polishing those £5,000 poems for our Troubadour International Poetry Prize, sponsored by Cegin Productions: and see you all next season…


next event

mon 26 may: spring into summer: with poets lydia mcpherson, ian house, jennifer wong, alyson hallett, barbara marsh, victoria field, jackie wills & special guest louis de bernières

An amazing line-up of new & established poetry voices to launch Troubadour60’s summer season, with

  • special guest Louis de Bernières, selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists found fame with his Colombian Trilogy &, in 1994, with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (a film based on the book appeared in 2001); his first poetry collection is Imagining Alexandria: Poems in Memory of Constantinos Cavafis (Harvill Secker, 2013)
  • Brighton-based freelance writer & OU associate lecturer Jackie Wills’ fifth collection is Woman’s Head as Jug (Arc, 2013); her Workshop Handbook is due for 2014 publication
  • Victoria Field is a writer & poetry-therapist & has lived & worked in Turkey; her latest collection is Lost Boys (Waterloo, 2013)
  • part of music duo The Dear Janes, Barbara Marsh was born in Rhode Island & now lives & teaches in London; To the Boneyard (Eyewear, 2013) is her first poetry collection
  • Alyson Hallett grew up in Somerset, has been poet-in-residence at the Univ. of Exeter’s Geography Dept in Cornwall & has a poem carved into a pavement in Bath; The Stone Library was published by Peterloo in 2007
  • Jennifer Wong grew up in Hong Kong; her publications include Summer Cicadas (2006) and Goldfish (2013), both from Chameleon
  • Lydia Macpherson was born in the Yorkshire Pennines; published in Poetry London, The North & Poetry Wales; her first collection, Love Me Do, won the 2013 Crashaw Prize and is due from Salt (Spring, 2014)
  • Ian House lives in Reading & has taught in Eastern Europe; Nothing’s Lost (2014) is his second Two Rivers Press collection

readings - may-jul 2014 - troubadour60

mondays 8-10 pm, £8 (concs. £7)

  • mon 26 may: spring into summer: with poets lydia mcpherson, ian house, jennifer wong, alyson hallett, barbara marsh, victoria field, jackie wills & special guest louis de bernières
  • mon 9 jun: an evening with paul muldoon: pulitzer-prize-winning poet & new yorker editor, paul muldoon, with music from christine tobin
  • mon 23 jun: what we should have said: an entertaining, enlightening, innovative & unpredictable spoken-word shindig with helen mort, philip gross, imtiaz dharker, huw warren & stuart silver
  • mon 7 jul: stop all the clocks! guest poets celebrate the timeless poetics of clock-watching, of punctuality & procrastination, sundials, time-checks, & the relentless ticking-away of minutes, hours, days… in our timely end-of-Troubadour60-summer-season poetry-party!

See full details of this season’s poetry readings

classes - jan-jul 2014 - troubadour60

workshops & seminars, sundays 12-3.30 pm

£28 (concs. £24) advance booking only, with cheque, please, as our workshops/classes (limited to 15 attendees) are frequently oversubscribed

  • sun 8 jun, stop all the clocks: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe
  • sun 15 jun, 2.30 pm-5pm: land of heart’s desire: a w.b. yeats walk with c.l. dallat
  • sun 6 jul, locked rooms: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe

See full details of this season’s classes and workshops


Half-eaten fries, the remains of hash browns,
fill the table’s distance between them.
She scoops the car-keys, says she’ll not be long.

In the wash-room mirror she checks her face
close-up; sees years of wearied waiting.
She steps into a sticky afternoon.

How long before he’ll notice, before he’ll ask —
the forecourt is nauseous with diesel and ocean —
ask if anyone’s seen a woman in middle years.

She’s onto the freeway, jittering across lanes.
And why, he’ll wonder, now that the kids are gone,
now that they’re free to hit the road each spring.

She overtakes on automatic, clearing Carolina -
recalls the one dream he has left, of building a boat;
upriver in summer; dry-dock in winter. The two of them.

An unforeseen calm settles with sundown: she longs
for nightfall on unbroken stretches of highway.
It’s clear ahead as far as her eyes can see.

Anne-Marie Fyfe

from Understudies: New & Selected Poems (Seren, 2010)

spring 2014 newsletter

Date: 11th January 2014

Dear Poetry Fans

Happy New Year! And what a dynamic new Troubadour60 poetry-year, with Coffee-House Poetry marking the Troubadour’s 60 years as the hangout for poets & playwrights, artists & actors, producers & musicians, and all who’ve enjoyed, over the years, the Bohemian buzz of the last of London’s literary coffee-houses.

And the year’s first, major gesture is Cegin Productions’ announcement of a £5,000 top prize in this year’s Troubadour Poetry Prize, a recognition of the work Coffee-House Poetry’s doing for poetry, quality of poetry submissions, and the prestige & affection with which the prize & venue are regarded not only by all you Troubadour followers, but by so many worldwide who don’t get down to the cellar-club nights but who are part of the wider Troubadour crowd (& growing…) I do enjoy e-mails from so many who would love to make it here from wherever, and it’s great to meet you when you turn up at our gigs!

Speaking of… Flying Monday-night visit some weeks back from Marc Van Bloemen — his Canadian parents Sheila & Mike founded the Troubadour writers’ café in 1954 — who was allowed to stay up late in pyjamas in the 1960s when folk and rock’n’roll heroes appeared on the Troubadour stage. Don’t know if he remembers those ’boots of Spanish leather’ when poet Bob Dylan came down the club steps: but I do know Pete Seeger’s one message to London-bound Bob was to find the Troubadour, where the Stones found ‘jazz-drummer’ Charlie Watts, a young Richard Harris found the perfect auditorium for staging Clifford Odets’ Winter Journey, Stanley Kubrick found a quiet corner to script espresso-fuelled masterworks; and where Paul Simon arrived, ‘a poet and a one-man-band’.

We’ve not got Paul Simon coming (his fee was £10 then, not sure if he’s upped it?) but we do have a Q&A with the poet who Q&A’d him at this year’s New Yorker Festival, i.e New Yorker poetry-ed. Paul Muldoon, mercurial inspiration to a generation of poets, many of them long-standing Coffee-House favourites, many of them appearing again on this year’s celebratory Troubadour60 programme, including Sean O’Brien, Jo Shapcott, Maurice Riordan, Paul Farley, Jackie Wills, Daljit Nagra… along with Louis de Berniéres, Philip Gross, Michael Mackmin, Vona Groarke, Ian Gregson, Ahren Warner & many, many more.

In line with tradition there’ll obviously be music, including singer-songwriter Christine Tobin (who sang with Don Paterson’s Lammas) and Bernadette Reed who was such a success at the recent ‘evening-with’ Mark Doty. And we’ve got 80+ billed poets in first-half-2014 incl. Coffee-House Colloquies/meet-the-editors event, new poets from Faber Academy & Troubadour Prize, two of Cegin’s unique

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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