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

Sheer poetry, last night (Mon 12 Jun), not just Thomas Lynch’s poems, but his dazzlingly poetic prose (proving his Sunday Gallery workshop theory of genre bending) & his flowing interview/Q&A words of wisdom, an evening rich in both poetry & thoughts about poetry, as well as — inevitably from the literary world’s favourite undertaker — reflections on life, on death, onthe uses of form & formality, the need for empathy & much more) plus a handful of great Tom Lynch stories from both Michigan & Moveen, Co. Clare.

Poetry, too, in the lyrical & energised playing of violin & cello virtuosi, Aisling & Julie-Anne Manning, bringing us Bach, Johan Halvorsen’s dramatic Handel-based Passacaglia & some Irish airs… the perfect overture to Tom’s poetry.

A poetry evening, too, in which poets abounded in the audience, something Tom recognised as a uniquely Troubadour experience. A great & literarily, philosophically rewarding experience. And long queues & great conversations as Tom got to sign so many books, thanks to a clearly enraptured audience.

And the world turns… from Tom’s bestselling book of essays, Bodies in Motion and at Rest to thoughts of celestial bodies & astronomical motion as we celebrate, just after summer solstice (Mon 26 Jun – end-of-season’s always quite a celebration with guest poets’ choices, music, quiz, prizes etc) the awesome, the galactic, the astronomical, the stellar, interplantetary universe, in an evening entitled Planet Earth (see right).

Back to themed workshops, (after two v. popular visiting-US-poet Sunday sessions) & a second & third chance (Sun 18 Jun & Sun 2 Jul) for those who missed A Tree Grows which produced such amazing & unlikely poems three weeks ago: & still a chance to sign up for Land of Heart’s Desire: A WB Yeats Walk (on Sun 25 Jun), check them both out here.

Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2017’s deadline of Mon 16 Oct isn’t looming just yet but hopefully its within your sights, shimmering on the horizon — with not merely monetary prizes but a range of contributions from a great list of sponsors!

readings - may-jun 2017

mondays 8-10 pm, £7 at the troubadour

for advance booking: pay via PayPal (on readings page) or cheque to Coffee-House Poetry at PO Box 16210, LONDON W4 1ZP

  • mon 15 may: spring fever: with elaine gaston, jon stone, claire dyer, alistair noon, ruth sharman, nick makoha, michael scott & penny boxall plus singer/guitarist henry fajemirokun
  • mon 29 may states of writing: with d. nurkse, reading & in-conversation plus, before the break, poets from university of north florida, plus singer/guitarist mark ari
  • mon 12 jun: a matter of life & death: the much-loved, & award-winning, michigan poet, essayist & undertaker, thomas lynch, reading & in-conversation, with special guest appearance by aisling & julie-anne manning
  • mon 26 jun: planet earth: poetry party with guest readers, music & prize-quiz on the theme of planets & perseids, stars & satellites, orbits, galaxies & constellations…

See full details of this season’s poetry readings

classes - may-jun 2017

sundays 12-3.30 pm, £28 at the troubadour

(except yeats walk, sunday 25th jun, 2.30-5 pm, £18 from ravenscourt park tube)

advance booking only as our workshops/classes (limited to 15 attendees) are frequently oversubscribed: pay via PayPal (see classes page) or cheque to Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON W4 1ZP: if overbooked you’ll be informed by e-mail & refunded promptly

  • sun 21 may, 12-3.30 pm: a tree grows: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe
  • sun 28 may, 12-3.30 pm: masterclass: critical workshop with d. nurkse (now fully booked)
  • sun 11 jun, 12-3.30 pm: genre bending: writing workshop with thomas lynch (now fully booked)
  • sun 18 jun, 12-3.30 pm: a tree grows: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe
  • sun 25 jun, 2.30-5 pm, £18: land of heart’s desire: a wb yeats walk with cl dallat
  • sun 2 jul, 12-3.30 pm: a tree grows: themed writing workshop with anne-marie fyfe

See full details of this season’s classes and workshops

next event

mon 26 jun: planet earth: poetry party with guest readers, music & prize-quiz, with a theme of planets & perseids, stars & satellites, orbits, galaxies & constellations…

John Gray insists that Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, & Gustav Holst had both heavenly bodies, & the rest, in his 1916 Planets Suite (all except Pluto which wasn’t discovered until 1930). And David Bowie who gave us Life on Mars had Major Tom observe that Planet earth is blue.

But what do our favourite poets make of the power, or the presence, of planets? John Donne was fascinated with the skies as optical advances allowed his contemporaries to discover so many new planets in the firmament. And even in 1930 scientists & cartoonists named their respective latest discoveries (a new element, & Mickey Mouse’s dog) after the newest planet (which also features in Mary Ruefle’s Cold Pluto). But that was after just about every ancient culture had attributed meaning, character, personalities, godlike qualities or auguries of doom to the objects, asteroids, comets & celestial spheres that fill our night-skies.

But the planetary sense is still strong in poems like Auden’s Moon Landing, Robert Lowell’s Pity the planet, all joy gone/ from this sweet volcanic cone, Jamie McKendrick’s Seventh Planet, discovered by William Herschel, Caroline Herschel’s comet-sweeper in Lesley Saunders’ Cloud Camera, Peggy Seeger or Roberta Flack singing Ewan McColl’s the moon & stars were the gifts you gave, or a whole generation of contemporary poems about space travel, space exploration, fictional or factual interplanetary craft.

Join us on a journey through poems & planets, astronauts & asteroids, Greek deities & science-fiction geekdom, through constellations, orbits, space-warps, star treks, & yes, not to be forgotten, the ever popular moon, stars & sun that illuminate our poems & our lives. Hear guest poets’ planet-inspired poetry, or their astronomically-inspired choices from poets past & present, join in our Extra Terrestrial prize poetry quiz, listen to planet-themed music & hear whose planet poem wins the Troubadour-bonus space race…


Date: 6th January 2017

Dear Poetry Fans

A surprising Christmas to New Year break with bright days, clear skies, mild nights, & some time for blue-skies thinking, quite literally, as our first Sunday Gallery workshop, In the Clouds, explores clouds in all their impressive & oppressive magnificence & tedium, our first party night, Weather Report, celebrates meteorological poetry (or poems with at least a tenuous weather connection!) & Planet Earth, our midsummer celebration — under classic clear solstice night skies — will have us listening to (& reading) poems on planets, perseids, meteor showers & every known form of heavenly body.

But time for metaphorical blue-skies thinking too, as our recent programmes (& the very successful autumn season which kicked off our 20th Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour year) show, it’s very much your Troubadour, with more & more of our first-halves affording new & aspiring poets a chance to read on the famous Troubadour stage, whether as Dom Bury’s ‘before the break’ guest choices or Live Canon’s Shakespearean sonneteers last season or, this time, University of North Florida MFA students, & poetry alumni of London’s Faber Academy.

Both our showcases (in January & May) feature eight new poets or poets with new collections: & our party nights allow an increasing number of invited guest poets, Troubadour favourites & poets who are regular audience or workshop members, to read to an always-imaginative theme.

And when we talk of Troubadour favourites, among the outstanding

Read more …

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The Troubadour is at 263–267 Old Brompton Road, London SW5.

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