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 last night’s poets (who double as bloggers, critics, editors, & teachers/professors in Poetry & Creative Writing) for four great readings & a fascinating debate on our colloquy theme, the poem as selfie-stick (Mon 8th). A wide-ranging discussion on how we see ourselves, portray ourselves in poetry: is that our own voice or a fictionalised version, is truth/authenticity relevant, can we voice/use/steal others’ stories…? The poets talked of their own work & practice, drew comparison with theatre, fiction, life-writing, visual arts, & references, quotations, theories, & examples abounded – from Rimbaud, TS Eliot, Glyn Maxwell, Rembrandt, Galway Kinnell, Tracy Emin, John Hewitt, Caravaggio & Ted Hughes, with some incisive audience Q&A, & the conclusions were fascinating, reflective, validating for contributors, for audience, & for poetry…

This Sunday’s Edge of the Depths workshop (Sun 14th), just announced, is filling up nicely. Our next big thing, of course, is that our 2016 £5,000 Troubadour International Poetry Prize news is up on our prizes page with submission dates & info on this year’s judges, Jane Yeh & Glyn Maxwell, & poems starting to arrive already!

Amazingly — with winter-salon/new-writing-showcase & our colloquy evening just past — we’re halfway through Spring 2016 & looking forward to the spoken-word-&-music experience that is What We Should Have Said (see below). A unique — & uniquely fast-moving — impromptu poetry & music format.

See you all on Sun 14th or Mon 22nd…

next event

mon 22 feb: malika booker, peter sansom, paul maddern, huw warren & 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

Sponsored by Cegin Productions

Further adventures & extravagations in yet another episode of the Troubadour’s unique Cegin-sponsored poetry segué with musical & philosophical interventions…

  • writer/perfomer/director Stuart Silver offers his own idiosyncratic take on life & its meanings,
  • pianist Huw Warren creates a classical/jazz counterpoint to the poetry pulse…
  • & providing the spontaneous, off-the-cuff, un-prescheduled poetic foreground, our three guest poets:
  • Malika Booker spans literature & education, & crosses genres, disciplines & art-forms: she toured with Bittersweet (1999/2000); featured in Kin (Barbican, 2004); her musical play Catwalk ran at Tricycle (2001) plus UK tour; & her latest poetry collection is Pepper Seed (Peepal Tree, 2013);
  • Peter Sansom is a director of The Poetry Business where he edits (with Ann Sansom) The North magazine and Smith/Doorstop books: he is also guest poet at TES, company poet with the Prudential, & writer-in-residence with Marks & Spencer. He has published Writing Poems (Bloodaxe) & five collections with Carcanet including Selected Poems (2010)
  • Paul Maddern was born in Bermuda and lived in Canada, the USA, and England before moving to Ireland in 2000. In 2009, he was a winner in the Templar Poetry pamphlet competition with Kelpdings. His 2010 collection, The Beachcomber’s Report was shortlisted for the Eithne and Rupert Strong Award for Best First Collection.
  • plus, before the break, a selection of 2015 & previous Troubadour International Poetry Prize Winners including: Sue Rose, Katy Mack, Tiffany Tondut, June Lausch, Diana Pooley, Rishi Dastidar, Alex Josephy, Josh Ekroy, Barbara Marsh, Richard Meier, Pam Johnson, Martyn Crucefix, Jacqueline Saphra, Jenny Vuglar, Karen Green, Rachel Piercey, Mara Bergman, Caroline Smith & Louise Warren

readings - jan-mar 2016

mondays 8-10 pm, £7 at the troubadour

  • mon 25 jan: salon d’hiver with jessica traynor, kate bingham, tamar yoseloff, carole bromley, lesley saunders, owen lewis, greg freeman & maura dooley with henry fajemirokun
  • mon 8 feb: the poem as selfie-stick: a coffee-house colloquy with fiona sampson, r.a. villanueva, fiona moore, tim liardet & c.l. dallat
  • mon 22 feb: malika booker, peter sansom, paul maddern, huw warren & 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 7 mar: the sea, the sea: invited guest poets read their own & others’ poems of sea & shore, of bays & boats, of tides & tempests plus sea-themed music & nautical prize quiz

See full details of this season’s poetry readings

classes - jan-mar 2016

sundays 12-3.30 pm, £28 at the troubadour

advance booking only as our workshops/classes (limited to 15 attendees) are frequently oversubscribed: pay via PayPal below programme details or send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry 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

malika booker in 22nd feb’s poetry rollercoaster ‘what we should have said…’


When I saw your father, before your birth,
I saw a boulder, its broad chest teetering

on a slope, awkward as his skin stretched
and cracked, losing its old self.

I saw him weigh each decision carefully,
his life mission sharpened like a pencil.

I saw him testing father on his tongue, rolling it
in his mouth like hot liquid and squinting at its burn.

As you stretched your mother’s stomach,
so he stretched. He shed parts to prepare.

I saw a man naked and unsure, rolling daddy
around his tongue, preparing like a raw trumpeter

stretching abstract notes, creating jazz.

Malika Booker

…from Vinyl Poetry Vol#8

spring 2016 news

Date: 4th January 2016

Dear Poetry Fans

Spring always comes a little early at the Troubadour as our Spring 2016 season bursts into life on 25th January, & we’re looking forward to a Jan/Mar programme as vibrant & inspiring as Autumn 2015, which proved to be one of our best-attended & most appreciated seasons to-date.

All exciting stuff as the Coffee-House Poetry brand spreads its wings to include a publishing project, annual residential courses in, among other desirable destinations, French chateaux, & a chance to truly internationalise the Troubadour Prize by promoting in the US for the first time, at AWP in Los Angeles in March.

Events-wise, the famous cellar-club Monday nights kick off with our annual winter salon, a roll call of great up-&-coming poetic voices, local & international, reading alongside established Troubadour favourites with exciting new collections.

Coffee-House Poetry’s always been as much about talking poetry, poets & poetics, about catching up & catching the zeitgeist: & Spring 2016 features the next in our Coffee-House Colloquies series where poets tackle the big themes, reading their own poems in the first half & sitting down to some serious discussion (& audience Q&A) in part II. This colloquy’s topic is the poem as a subtle form of selfie-stick, poetry as a way of seeing ourselves, inventing, portraying ourselves…

Then What We Should Have Said adds to the mix, first half a kaleidoscopic whirl of recent Troubadour Prize winners, second half whisking us off in Coffee-House Poetry’s unique roller-coaster sequence of poetry, music, wit & wisdom with, as always, some great names weaving wonders.

And to top off a lively programme, an end-of-season reading theme that’s as wide as the wide, wide ocean, where guest poets read their own sea poems, or their favourite maritime poems by other poets (& there are hundreds to choose from)… with the usual celebratory ambience, fun quiz, themed music &, now, the new ‘best of…’ bonus prize! We asked for your ‘theme’ ideas at the December end-of-season, so thanks to one of our regulars, Victoria Grigg, for this winning suggestion!

The Thing With Feathers, our weird & wonderful ornithological theme, was such a workshop success in

Read more …

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

Other content: copyright © Coffee–House Poetry 2008–2016. 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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