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

Thanks to everyone who made Monday night’s “Evening With John Montague’s Poetry” such a classic, thoughtful, moving, persuasive, discursive – & fun – event, in John’s absence (due to illness). Thanks to all those who read & who’ve loved, studied, & loved hearing John’ poetry &/or have met him over his many years as the leading Irish poet of his generation — & American/cosmopolitan poet as we were reminded, as he was born in Brooklyn &, despite ‘belonging’ to the North of Ireland, much of his development was inspired by Iowa, Berkeley, Dublin, Paris…

Thanks especially to Maurice Riordan, one of a Cork University generation whose literary lives were enlivened by John’s abounding energies in all the arts. And thanks, too, to John for the message he sent on Sunday night, a poignant reflection on rooms, on missing that famous Troubadour room, on experience of hospital rooms… and a fragment, a beginning that might just be on its way to being another great poem.

Party night next, Mon 9 Mar, see below, don’t miss!

next event

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

After winter’s ‘blue’ what better hue to signal our spring season (and start our Easter break) than the yellows of sweetcorn, buttercups & egg-yolks: not to mention yellow cabs, smileys & custard.

But yellow doesn’t have it all its own sunshiny way. There’s that jinxing one-eyed yellow idol, &, topically, mustard gas: there’s the perjorative ‘yellow-bellied’, & being shown the yellow card & a host of literary & cultural references from Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Yellow Wallpaper & Gaston Leroux’s Mystery of the Yellow Room through Aldous Huxley’s Crome Yellow by way of Martin Amis’ Yellow Dog to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun.

Poets certainly spotted yellow in nature — Wordsworth’s host of golden daffodils, the blackbird’s bright yellow beak (in an 11th-century Belfast poem), James Fenton’s Yellow Tulips & Michael Longley’s Gorse Fires, with Yeats wishing men would love Anne Gregory for yourself alone/ and not your yellow hair. But subtler yellows often prevail, with paint-box variations including mimosas, primroses, jasmines, jonquils & ochres — & colour-chart imaginations running to Wild Primrose, Maize, Happy Daze, El Dorado, Egyptian Sand & Lemon Punch.

Lyricisits clearly find yellow’s trochaic mellifluity irresistible with several yellow brick roads, yellow suns, rivers & birds, yellow roses & even a yellow submarine. So there’s the chance to go for gold in our the-answer’s-a-lemon prize quiz with music to match the mellow-yellow mood!

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
  • john montague is unwell & unable to attend: we’re having, instead, an evening with john montague’s poetry at which guest poets who know john &/or were influenced/inspired by his work will each read a poem with, after the break, a round-table discussion with c.l. dallat, maurice riordan & others…
  • 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

Big Yellow Taxi! to a Big Yellow Poetry Night: Mon 9 Mar at the Troubadour

Yellow Bicycle

When I ask her what she wants
She says, “A yellow bicycle.”
        — Robert Hass

As long as we move at a dancing gait, my love,
Leaving the car by the place where a yellow bicycle stands
    leaning against a tree,
As long as we enter the gardens at a dancing gait,
Northern gardens, full of dew and the voices of birds,
Our memory is childish and it saves only what we need:
Yesterday morning and evening, no further.
But then we recalled a girl who had a yellow bicycle like that
And used to talk to it in caressing words.
Later on, among flower beds between box hedges,
We saw a little statue and a plate with the sculptor’s name.
We were descending by terraces toward a lake
Which is like a lake from an old ballad,
Smooth, between the peninsulas of spruce forests.
Thus common human memory visited us again.

Czeslaw Milosz tr. Czeslaw Milosz & Robert Hass
…from The Collected Poems (1931-1987), Penguin, 1988

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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