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

Still buzzing from the excitement of our Bank Holiday Monday poetry explosion with What We Should Have Said AND LetterPress Poets (check out who’s-who on my FB page) but already looking forward to a visit from another high-calibre troupe of Troubadours from Smiths Knoll Pamphlets led by editors Michael Laskey & Joanna Cutts — frequent visitors when Smiths Knoll was the poet’s poetry magazine. Now they’re into publishing more substantial sequences & will introduce nine of their latest & best pamphleteers, some already Coffee-House Poetry favourites, some you may not have heard from yet but certainly will in the future…

And don’t forget to check out our £5,000 annual Troubadour International Poetry Prize with judges Jean Sprackland & Adam O’Riordan on our prizes page, other cellar-club events on the readings page, workshops etc on the classes page, or join our regular e-list if you’re not already receiving the e-mails!

See you all again for another dazzling poetry evening on Mon 8th!

next event

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

Joanna Cutts & Michael Laskey publish pamphlets under the Smiths Knoll imprint, initially as end products of a year-long mentoring scheme & now — since the much-loved magazine closed down in 2012 —helping poets whose work they have published & admired to put together short collections.

  • Philip Hancock’s Hearing Ourselves Think (Smiths Knoll 2009) was a Guardian Book of the Year 2010: he has since featured OxfordPoets (Carcanet, 2010) and his short film/poem Jelly Baby was screened at the Budapest Short Film Festival.
  • Lawyer Marianne Burton’s The Devil’s Cut (Smiths Knoll, 2007) was a PBS pamphlet choice: She Inserts the Key (Seren) was shortlisted for Forward Best First Collection 2013.
  • Stephen Payne teaches Computer Science at the University of Bath: his 2010 Smiths Knoll pamphlet The Probabilities of Balance will be followed this year by a full collection from HappenStance.
  • Lydia Harris lives on the Orkney island of Westray: Glad Not To Be The Corpse was the final Smiths Knoll mentorship scheme pamphlet in 2012.
  • Chris Dodd is poetry editor of Canadian magazine Freefall, has lived in Trinidad, near the Rockies in Alberta, Canada, in Houston, Texas & now lives back in the UK: his at-present-untitled Smiths Knoll pamphlet will be launched at this event!
  • Margaret Wilmot (b. California, educ. Univ. Berkeley) taught TEFL in the Mediterranean & New York, now lives in Sussex. Sweet Coffee (Smiths Knoll, 2013) is her first pamphlet.
  • Philip Pollecoff grew up in Birmingham, now lives in Chorleywood & works as a lawyer. His first pamphlet is Carry This With You At All Times (Smiths Knoll, 2013).
  • Novelist/short-story–writer Kath McKay lectures in creative writing. Her first collection, Anyone Left Standing, winner of 1998 Poetry Business competition, was followed by Telling the Bees (Smiths Knoll, 2014).
  • Andrew Kerr from Huddersfield studied religion & anthropology, & now works with drug & alcohol users in West Yorkshire. Sweet Talk (Smiths Knoll, 2015) came out in January.

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

Phil Hancock reads alongside fellow-Smiths-Knoll-Pamphlet poets on Monday 8th June at 8pm


They crowd Smithsons storage ground
off Liverpool Road. Will be towed into the open
by a rust-scabbed tractor, fussed over
on grass-verged avenues, Turtlewaxed.
A long weekend on the outskirts of a coastal town
or that once yearly fortnight, Potters’ shutdown.

Beds spring from veneered panelling,
a cottage teapot squat on a shelf,
horse brasses and framed families.
From the bowed window, high kites
in the afternoon, a Ferris wheel pauses.

Too soon they’re ball and hitched again,
following empty. Tailgated by HGVs,
they snake in the crosswind.
As the motorway approaches the viaduct,
the driver demands hush, clenches the wheel.

Philip Hancock
from… OxfordPoets (Carcanet, 2010)

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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