Coffee–House Poetry Newsletter
autumn 2016 news
Date: 18th September 2016
Dear Coffee-House Poetry Fans
Welcome back to the season of mists & mellow fruitfulness as London poet & coffee-house fan, John Keats, described it 200 years ago. And welcome back to the Troubadour Coffee-House, meeting place for London poets for a third of those 200 years with Coffee-House Poetry keeping literature alive & lively for the past 20 years!
(Of course, a number of you haven’t been away from Troubadour Poetry for too long, & in fact are not long back from our two week-long château poetry courses: if ‘course’ is the right word for lunch in the orchard, dinner in the courtyard, music, singing & dancing into the small hours but, no, we did our stuff, workshops every morning, poetry sessions late afternoon, & much of the evening entertainment was, in true Troubadour style, poetry readings & literary parlour games.
And where better than the heart of France, with Perseids shooting overhead (& on one occasion bats flying in-&-out of the high château salon windows!) for workshops on ‘darkness’. We’ve a new Sunday Gallery workshop, A Long, Dark Night coming up in October but I’m not sure we can provide the rich, velvety Charente night-sky as backdrop!)
But back to those 20th-year celebrations: & what better way to celebrate than by giving Coffee-House Poetry freebies at events, & by starting the season with free tickets!
Simply book & and pay online for the first event (Mon Oct 17th) on our ‘readings’ page & note which one of the following three events (not including our end of season themed night) you’d like to book for free (use the PayPal ‘Add Note to Seller’ option while you’re paying).
Watch out for surprise guest contributions, too, as part of this year’s 20th-anniversary buzz, guests from the worlds of music, film, theatre, all with poetry connections & a love of poetry, coming along to add to our celebrations: special guest(s) at every event &, as with proper surprises, we won’t be announcing in advance, you just have to be there.
And, as always, get down to the cellar-club to hear all that’s happening poetry-wise including a range of new poetry voices at all our events: & a particular take on the zeitgeist in our new programme strand, Troubadour Guest Choice, where a poet-of-the-moment creates an event reflecting their current personal/critical choices—starting with Dom Bury’s programme on Mon 14th Nov.
Dom, already well known to Troubadour cellar-club crowds for his front-of-house presence on poetry nights & his perceptive ear when it comes to Poem of the Night at our party readings, is also a 2016 Eric Gregory Award winner, &, as a poet/critic with his finger on the pulse, is first choice to ‘guest-host’ an event, with 4 major readers in part 2 & a dozen invited poets in part 1.
This season’s What We Should Have Said is, as always, a starry, starry night with, this time out, Luke Kennard, Martina Evans & a real Troubadour favourite, Louis Jenkins, who kicked off the prose-poem fad with a Gallery workshop here some years ago & is back from Minnesota for the opening of his West End play, Nice Fish starring Mark Rylance who co-wrote & performs in the piece across the USA. Louis, Martina & Luke will be weaving their magic around the words-&-music worlds of writer/director/philosopher, Stuart Silver, & celebrated big-screen composer Marios Takoushis.
But to begin at the beginning, we start on Mon 17th with a classic Coffee-House Poetry showcase, 8 great poets, some familiar, some with first collections, poets from Sydney, Cork, Norfolk, London etc. Prize-Night (Mon 31st Oct, a little earlier this year!) is always a major event with the whole poetry world coming along to celebrate our prizewinners & hear this year’s judges Glyn Maxwell & Jane Yeh read alongside £5,000 first-prize-winner Abigail Parry (who’ll collect her cheque from sponsor Cegin Productions) & most of the 25 prize-winning poets including those who’ll collect the special Troubadour sponsored prizes from the restaurant manager.
And as the season ends on St. Lucy’s Eve (Mon 12th Dec), the festival of light that John Donne called the year’s midnight, there could be no more appropriate poetry-topic for party-night than Here Comes the Night (borrowing a line from Van Morrison, another occasional Coffee-House Poetry fan). And for those who don’t already have a portfolio of night-poems, there’s that chance to start the autumn with a Sunday Gallery workshop, A Long, Dark Night (on Sun 23rd Oct) in which we explore night, darkness, shadows, lamplight, moonscape & all things nocturnal! And a great Yeats walk, on Sun 16th Oct, for those of you who haven’t already experienced the delights of West London’s Utopian artists’ colony & its 19c poets, painters, playwrights & poetry presses.
As in recent seasons, Sunday Gallery workshops will run on a pop-up basis, so do check the website ‘classes’ page & look out for e-mails as more themed creative-writing classes will be posted as the season progresses.
Finally a reminder that we’re still only £7 per event (book in advance or pay on the door) plus, this season, one free ticket to an event (on 31st Oct, 14th Nov or 28th Nov) for every ticket advance booked for Cornucopia on Mon 17th Oct. To book, use PayPal on ’readings’ & ‘classes’ pages, or send cheque to Coffee-House Poetry to PO Box 16210 LONDON W4 1ZP.
Date: 21st April 2016
Dear Coffee-House Poetry Supporters
Great to be back from the sunny California coastline just as summer (& cherry blossom) breaks out all over West London & Monday evening drinks-before-poetry in the Troubadour garden beckon: followed, of course, by the coolest cellar-club poetry, the hottest ticket in town, in this run-up to our extra-special celebratory twentieth Troubadour autumn!
So back (appropriately, after 6 weeks across the Atlantic, much of it up on Facebook) to one of our long-standing Coffee-House Poetry aims, widening the boundaries of the poetry we hear here in London as 9th May’s Across Oceans brings together a mix of American, British, British-American & American/European voices, ranging from names such as D. Nurkse & Joshua Weiner with their numerous publications to great new poets with first collections & debut pamphlets.
All part of Coffee-House Poetry’s widening scope with the international Troubadour Prize, an anthology project, taking the What We Should Have Said spoken-word-&-music format on the road, our two residential weeks in the Charente this August, & plans for future courses in other suitably inspirational locations.
Few line-ups could be more exciting in awards terms, though, than bringing together this year’s TS Eliot Prize-winner, Sarah Howe, with this year’s Irish Times Poetry Now-winner, Caitriona O’Reilly, plus multi-award-winner Michael Symmons Roberts, all swopping ideas from the ether in Coffee-House Poetry’s unstoppable poetry impromptu, the unique What We Should Have Said segué, inspired by Perrier-Award-winning writer-director Stuart Silver, sparkling with the imaginative inventions & interventions of film-&-TV composer Marios Takoushis (Best Music Award at 5th Malataya Film Festival): a starry, starry night…
The Bohemian Earls Court coffee-house remains, as it’s been since it opened in the ‘50s, & as London’s coffee-houses have always been, a place not just to hear outstanding poetry but to consider the state-of-the-poetic-art in stimulating, controversial Colloquies. This season our four protagonists, all leading poets & thinkers, exchange ideas & invite opinions on the relative merits of print vs online poetry publication, surf-world vs slim-volume, hypertext vs hard copy, in a significant battleground for poetry’s future. After, of course, giving us a selection of their own poetry in the first half!
And while the Troubadour’s long been one of London’s best-known cellar-clubs, few city-dwellers can fail to be fascinated by the hidden life of cities lurking behind shuttered stores, abandoned warehouses, in railway arches, down cellar steps, up narrow alleyways, along forgotten footpaths, the theme for our last-night-of-the-programme party, or to be intrigued by the possibility of other lives lived invisibly in the midst of urban chaos, nocturnal, mythical, imaginary, evanescent, subliminal… the theme for our first, intriguing, workshop of the season: do book a.s.a.p. for this as we book up very quickly, & do check website from time to time for further May-Jun workshop dates.
Full details of 2016 Troubadour International Poetry Prize judges etc on our prizes page now, & do remember our deadline this tenth year is Tue 21 Jun (not mid-Oct as in previous years).
Finally a reminder that we’re still only £7 per event, £28 per workshop & season tickets 20% off (i.e. £22.40 for Summer 2016)… To book, use PayPal on ’readings’ & ‘classes’ pages, or send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry to PO Box 16210 LONDON W4 1ZP.
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 November that we’re running again in January (book now as these fill up too quickly) & there’s been much interest (since Tom Sleigh’s masterclass) in having more frequent critical workshops (see 14th Feb): & do check website & e-news for details of more workshops/classes between now & mid-March.
Details of 2016 Troubadour International Poetry Prize judges, deadlines etc will be up on prizes page soon!
And remember we’re still only £7 per event, £28 per workshop & season tickets 20% off (i.e. £22.40 for Spring 2016)… To book, use PayPal on ’readings’ & ‘classes’ pages, or send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry to PO Box 16210 LONDON W4 1ZP.
Date: 14th September 2015
Dear Poetry Fans
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, John Keats called it, though before we get to our first Autumn reading, our annual Cornucopia, we’re actually exploring Winter’s Depths in a new Sunday afternoon workshop and revisiting the summer’s WB Yeats literary walk which was oversubscribed this year due to the excitement around #Yeats2015, WBY’s 150th Birthday & the mini-festival we organised at his boyhood London home: (workshop & literary walk both Sun 4 Oct). Workshop-wise the big news is a masterclass from award-winning US poet Tom Sleigh!
On wider fronts, 2015 sees Coffee-House Poetry’s remit extend to— making the annual prize more truly international (we’ll have a stand at AWP in California next spring); embracing new creative-writing categories such as memoir & creative non-fiction; increasing workshop availability outside of London; & recommencing the publishing strand by restarting the ‘Hotels’ anthology project paused temporarily when the sudden expansion of the annual Troubadour prize took up so much resource. With more admin help now involved, I’ll have more time to move forward on each of these strands.
I’ve posted the first 3 items on the ‘workshops & classes’ page (& in e-mailed version of diary/programme) but check website & regular e-news for further details between now & Christmas as I may introduce more classes if time allows.
As for this season’s readings great new-&-established names for our Mon 19 Oct autumn opener, top names, as always, for What We Should Have Said (plus wit, music etc & a host of one-poem Faber Academy readers in the first half) & another ’an evening with’ special — in the recent Muldoon/Doty/McGough mode — featuring, this time, multi-award-winning Brooklyn poet (& Distinguished Creative Writing Professor at Hunter College, CUNY), Tom Sleigh.
Prize night always draws a crowd, not just the poets (& friends of the poets) who’ve won our prizes, but all of the poetry world eager to hear our winning poets read alongside two long-established poets, John McAuliffe & Jean Sprackland, who’ve taken on this year’s judging. (And two previous years’ prizewinners have been chosen to feature alongside New York guest Tom Sleigh earlier in the month!)
Our end-of-season party, A Winter’s Tale will chase away midwinter’s bleakness with our invited guests reading favourite end-of-year poems by famous poets or their own winter reflections penned, some of them perhaps, in our Winter’s Depths workshop in October. Plus music, prize quiz, etc… And lots of fun, of course!
Value-wise we’re sticking with a straight £7 per event, £28 per workshop & season tickets 20% off (i.e. £28 for 5 readings). To book, use PayPal on ’readings’ & ‘classes’ pages, or send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to PO Box 16210 LONDON W4 1ZP stating event, date & tickets required: booked tickets are held at the door and you should arrive no later than 7.40 pm. Any changes to e-mail address details, do please e-mail or use the website’s newsletter option.
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 cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to PO Box 16210 LONDON W4 1ZP stating event, date & tickets required: booked tickets are held at the door and you should arrive no later than 7.40 pm. Any changes to e-mail address details, do please write, visit the website or e-mail…
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, Smiths 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!
Sunday 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 to watch out for in June.
A packed six months as ever & even better value at a mere (& unsubsidised) £7 per event with season tickets 20% off (i.e. Spring, £22.40, Summer £22.40). To book, use PayPal (available soon) on our website’s ’readings’ & ‘classes’ pages on www.coffeehousepoetry.org or send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to PO Box 16210 LONDON W4 1ZP stating event, date & tickets required: booked tickets are held at the door and you should arrive no later than 7.40 pm. Any changes to e-mail address details, do please write, visit the website or e-mail…
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…
… all still outstandingly unsubsidised good value at £8 per event (£7 concessions) with season tickets 20% off (i.e. £38.40, concs. £33.60). To book, send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to PO Box 16210 LONDON W4 1ZP stating event, date & tickets required: booked tickets are held at the door and you should arrive no later than 7.40 pm. Any changes to contact details, do please visit the website or e-mail…
Date: 12th May 2014
Dear Coffee-House Poetry fans
Great to be back at the Troubadour after my stateside tour of venues, colleges, cafés, writers’ centres, lectures & festivals from Minnesota to Rhode Island & all points between, including a month in Manhattan (with a few of my own readings too, of course, those following the tour on Facebook know all this already): so lots of exciting US poets coming up in the Autumn as part of Troubadour60, celebrating the venue’s 60 years as the last of London’s writers’-&-artists’ coffee-houses.
But coming up this season is someone who belongs to the US and to us, New Yorker editor & Manhattan- resident, Paul Muldoon who has taught at Princeton and been Oxford Professor of Poetry: in a popular Troubadour format like that of our Mark Doty event last autumn & the forthcoming Roger McGough event in November, Paul will give a reading & interview, with music, in this case from former Lammas vocalist Christine Tobin whose 2012 album of Yeats settings, Sailing to Byzantium was judged an unqualified masterpiece by Jazzwise magazine.
The season kicks off on Mon 26th May with a dazzling evening of familiar & first-collection poets, led by bestselling novelist Louis de Bernières with his new collection of poems for Constantine Cavafy, Imagining Alexandria. Our Mon 9th June ‘evening with Paul Muldoon’ is followed on 23rd June by another mercurially impromptu mix of music, musings & metre with this season’s What We Should Have Said poetical interventions involving Helen Mort, Imtiaz Dharker & Philip Gross, and we round off our Troubadour60 summer season on 7th July with invited guest poets reading on a clock-wise theme: sestinas on stopwatches, hakius on half-hours, odes to horology, aphorisms on alarm clocks… Always an imaginative & inspiring poetic evening.
And speaking of clocks, our Sun 8th June workshop will have lots of you writing watch-&-clock poems, where locked rooms on Sun 6th July should open a few doors in the imagination: and by contrast to those locked rooms Coffee-House Poetry goes al fresco with a W.B. Yeats walk around West London literary landmarks as part of Chiswick’s Bedford Park Festival on Sun 15th June. A busy summer season of poetry happenings!
Great to come back, too, to a flood of early entries for the new, high-profile Troubadour International Poetry Prize with £7,000 in prizes, with the £5,000 first-prize sponsored by Cegin Productions in recognition of the work Coffee-House Poetry’s doing for poetry, and the prestige & affection with which the prize & venue are regarded not only by all you Troubadour fans, 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!
…all outstandingly unsubsidised good value at a mere £8 per event (£7 concessions) with season tickets 20% off (i.e. £25.60, concs. £22.40). To book, send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to PO Box 16210 LONDON W4 1ZP stating event, date & tickets required: booked tickets are held at the door and you should arrive no later than 7.40 pm. Any changes to e-mail details, do please write, visit the website or e-mail…
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 What We Should Have Said spoken-word-&-music extravaganzas, two showcases — Winter Salon & Spring-into-Summer — two themed poetry-parties, four workshops, a Seamus Heaney seminar & a W.B. Yeats walk, plus more big surprises through the year…
…all outstandingly unsubsidised good value at a mere £8 per event (£7 concessions) with season tickets 20% off (i.e. Jan-Mar £32, concs. £28; May-Jul £25.60, concs. £22.40) and you can book both seasons now to ensure admission to all events. To book, send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to PO Box 16210 LONDON W4 1ZP stating event, date & tickets required: booked tickets are held at the door and you should arrive no later than 7.40 pm. Any changes to e-mail details, do please write, visit the website or e-mail…
Date: 18th December 2013
Dear Poetry Fans
A brilliant gathering last night (& some superb poem-choices from some great Troubadour poets) to round off our best year yet: dozens of guest poets performed at our end-of-season events, with party & workshop themes including snow, self-portrait, Manhattan, ‘simply red!’ & (last night) ‘the eye of the storm’, we’ve had 60+ billed poets throughout 2013, including Mark Doty, Frieda Hughes, Liz Lochhead, Simon Armitage, Christopher Reid, Penelope Shuttle, David Morley, Patience Agbabi, George Szirtes & Deryn Rees Jones, in formats including our unique spoken-word-&-music Cegin event with Stuart Silver & Huw Warren, poetry press showcases, & an outstanding Troubadour Prize evening with our first-prize winner coming from Tokyo to collect her Cegin-sponsored £2,500 prize, with a larger & more internationally diverse entry than ever!
And, of course, 3 Magma launches over the year, though — since some of you are asking — that’s one event that won’t be with us next year: Magma have enjoyed 15 years of fund-raising launches as part of our Coffee-House Poetry seasons, events that enabled the early magazine to survive, & thrive, with our audiences’ & their readers’ support, sharing door-takings over all those years, with event costs subsidised by us. Now that Magma has other funding they want to try new launch-event formats at other venues, in which endeavour we wish them all the best. I’d like to add that I’ve very much enjoyed working with former chair, David Boll, and the Magma team, past & present, including supporting the magazine in other ways, and being part of the Magma world.
That enthusiasm for poetry magazines & presses has been a core part of my programming and next season will see the return of Coffee-House Colloquies where editors of four of our leading poetry magazines (Poetry Review, Rialto, Agenda & Poetry London) will read their own work &, after the break, gather round the ‘colloquies’ table to debate the pros-&-cons, the rights-&-wrongs, of submissions, rejections, manifestos & editorial obligations. Put 17th Feb in the diary now!
And that’s just one of the big events coming up in 2014. The Troubadour opened as a writers’ cafe in 1954 so next year’s 60th anniversary is the perfect excuse for celebration. Our Troubadour International Poetry Prize, for example, now joins the top league with a ‘Cegin-Productions-sponsored’ first prize of £5,000 (& lots of other prizes): do check out the website for the past 7 years’ ‘Roll of Honour’, some lovely poems there & some names who’ve gone on to great things; & do read our judges’ fascinating reports.
Plus there’s ‘Fame Academy’, or rather the best of Faber Academy, there’s Paul Muldoon (reading & in-conversation, by request from so many of you after the energised & engaging Mark Doty session), with music from the outstanding Christine Toibin, there’s Sean O’Brien, Daljit Nagra, Maurice Riordan, Jo Shapcott, among many. Plus a few surprises!
We start back on 20th January – after all the excitement of the PBS’s Eliot Prize (I’ll be reminding you about that soon) with our ever exciting showcase kick-off event. Look out for all details in programme/diary in early January.
Thanks again for all those packed and vibrant evenings, all those oversubscribed Sunday workshop sessions, and the vast enthusiasm for our Poetry Prize. And our thanks as ever to Simon & Susie and all the Troubadour Café staff.
Date: 26th August 2013
Dear Poetry Fans
August Bank Holiday’s clearly too early to write lyrically of Keats’ season of mists and mellow fruitfulness or Jacques Prevert’s feuilles mortes of red and gold…
But as I’m off shortly to an autumnal cherry-orchard in Burgundy to tutor the annual residential creative-writing week that’s grown out of our Troubadour Sunday classes, I thought I’d best post Autumn 2013’s dazzling programme early, for all of you who want to advance-book for some of the stand-out — and inevitably standing-room-only — events: particularly for Mon Nov 4th’s What We Should Have Said with leading poets Christopher Reid & Jo Shapcott: and even more especially for the season’s ultimately unmissable session, (Mon Oct 7th) an evening with major US poet Mark Doty, reading, plus interview/Q&A.
It’s Magma’s infinite variety that makes the magazine’s launch nights such a sell-out too, and Magma #57 (Mon Nov 18th) will be no exception, with the issue’s special focus on The Shape of the Poem, and with star guest Patience Agbabi who negotiates complex territory between traditional forms & contemporary idioms.
As always, at Coffee-House Poetry it’s at least as much about new voices and the latest ground-breaking collections, so in addition to the very many poets either featured as Magma #57 contributors or invited to read at our end-of-season themed poetry party, we have four up-&-coming new discoveries coming to read on the Christopher Reid/Jo Shapcott event, and eight outstanding poets lined-up for our annual pick-of-the-crop cornucopia on Mon Oct 21st.
As for Troubadour Sundays, fewer this season than we’ve managed latterly as I’m also teaching creative-writing workshops in Marlborough, Camden, and Lake Orta in Northern Italy in-between Troubadour Mondays, but two imaginative new-writing opportunities coming up with The Eye of the Storm on Sun Nov 17th and a much-requested overflow session — for all those we couldn’t take in Summer 2013 — on the poetic power of ‘red’ on Sun Dec 1st!. No doubt the occasional Eye of the Storm creation will have its first airing at our end-of-season poetry party, Stormy Weather, where invited guest poets will read their own work or choose favourite poems by other poets, on typhoons, tempests, twisters and tornadoes.
Good news, too, for those who’ve been following the Troubadour International Poetry Prize which not only keeps London’s longest-running & best-loved live literature landmark ‘alive’ but which also, year-on-year, uncovers a wealth of new & progressing talent: we’ve now been invited to forward our top prize-winners, annually, to the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and C.J. Allen, one of our 2012 winners is, as I write, on the five-strong shortlist for that honour, an added incentive for you to check-out our prizes page with details of this year’s submission deadlines and of our 2013 judges, Deryn Rees-Jones & George Szirtes: do send us your best poems (e-mail or postally) by Mon Oct 21st and do join us on Mon Dec 2nd with George, Deryn and twenty-three prize-winners for a celebration of the best poems out of several thousand.
All this with no visible means of support other than your continued attendance, and your submissions to the annual Prize, and all still only £8 per event (£7 concessions) with season tickets 20% off at only £38.40 (concs. £33.60) covering six unique & outstanding events. To book, simply send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to PO Box 16210, LONDON W4 1ZP, stating event, date & tickets required: booked tickets are held at the door and you should arrive no later than 7.40 pm. Any changes to mailing/e-mailing details, do please write, visit the website or e-mail…
Date: 7th May 2013
Dear Poetry Fans
Great to be back in a London of cherry blossoms, sunlit parks & the Troubadour’s verdant, Pimm’s-flavoured urban garden (check out the delightfully atmospheric ‘short’ on the Troubadour’s website) and good to know, after my 5-week mission, that US East Coast poetry’s thriving as ever in coffee-bars, galleries, arts-centres & writers groups from Boston to Baltimore, from Greenwich Village to Washington Heights & Williamsburg! So it’s really good to have writers from Washington DC, Michigan & New York City reading alongside poets from the England’s North-West, South-East and Midlands, in Transatlantic Signals, our high-profile starter (Monday 20 May) for our ultra-high-energy summer sequence through to July.
There’s a classic Coffee-House Poetry celebration of Wales’ Seren Books imprint (Monday 17 June) with a dazzling range of the press’s poetic voices from around the UK and a chance to meet the poets, & meet Seren editor, Amy Wack, who’ll be introducing. And there’s mega-unmissable Magma, edited, this time, by Julia Bird & Helen Mort, with (Mon 1 July) an irrepressibly imaginative & eclectic selection from issue #56’s contributors.
What We Should Have Said continues to fascinate with Stuart Silver’s off-beat philosophical detours, Huw Warren’s mesmerizingly subtle piano-playing and (for our Monday 3 June event) a seamless spoken-word segue from Troubadour prize-winner Paul Stephenson, painter-&-Bloodaxe-poet Frieda Hughes (with five poetry collections) & poet/dramatist Simon Armitage whose work has inspired a new generation of poets over the past twenty years (a must for advance booking!).
Our themed end-of-season party’s always a colourful occasion but this season’s carnivalesque Simply Red! theme—specially chosen for the height of summer, on Mon 15 July—should provide us with a vivid, vibrant fiesta, a riot of passionate, primary-colours poetry, plus quizzical questions & salsa sounds…
And lots to do on Troubadour far-from-sleepy sunny Sundays too: from a repeat of last season’s oversubscribed session on two exceptional generations of Northern Irish poets, & a summer stroll round W.B. Yeats’ West London literary landmarks, to no less than three themed creative workshops in the cool, sunlit gallery-space: Seeing Red (to tie-in with our mid-July party theme), To Sleep, Perchance… & Mapping the Island: much there to respond to, ponder, explore, extrapolate, inspire & get working on: and do check out the classes page for dates, details & booking info.
Worth checking out our poems page, too, where, as six years of 20+ winners per year had stacked up into an endless scroll, we’ve separated each year into a separate navigation list on the right: much easier to get to a particular poem or poet. And the prizes page has full details of this year’s submission deadlines, & judges Deryn Rees-Jones & George Szirtes: do send us your best poems so you can help keep London’s liveliest, longest-running and best-loved literary cellar-club literarily (& literally) alive & lively, & perhaps look forward to seeing your name on next year’s poetry-prize roll-of-honour.
Readings now £8 (concessions £7), going up by £1, reluctantly after 4 years without a price-rise & 5 years without Arts Council funding; season tickets 20% off at only £32 (concs. £28) for the Summer 2013 season. To book, simply send cheque payable to Coffee-House Poetry (no credit cards) to above address, stating event, date & tickets required: booked tickets are held at the door & you should arrive no later than 7.40pm. Any changes to mailing/e-mailing details, do please write, visit the website or e-mail…