Tag Archives: Torriano Meeting House

14 Great Poetry Gigs to Celebrate

Postcards (Collage 3)Writing poetry is one thing. Marketing it, quite another. This is where poetry gigs can come into their own. Over the last year, I’ve taken my poetry pamphlet, Later There Will Be Postcards, on a whistle stop tour of some great venues.

Green Bottle Press launched the pamphlet last October at SLAM Kings Cross – a delightful venue with an ornate horseshoe balcony and music hall feel.  So far so great – a nice turn out of friends and poetry well-wishers, plus stablemates Tracey Rhys and Yvonne Piper launching their own books too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGBP Postc (Joolz pic)My editor, Jennifer Gregg, had arranged a pre-launch at The Torriano Meeting House – a little piece of literary history tucked away in Kentish Town, which is also home to the imprint Hearing Eye.  I featured there with fellow Green Bottle Press poet Sarah Sibley, reading from her PBS acclaimed pamphlet The Withering Room.  I was there again two weeks later to feature with poets Alan Price and Louise Warren, and enjoy the usual high quality open-mic readers.

In February I was invited to read two of my poems at Palewell Press‘s launch of a powerful book about refugees – Three Days in Damascus, a memoir by Kim Schultz. The venue was The Hive in Dalston, a really wacky, welcoming space full of contemporary art, great coffee and a happening feel to it.  Handy for the Jeffrey Museum too.

Magma 67 launchMagma being one of my top three favourite literary mags (no, I’m not telling!) I was thrilled to be asked to read two of my poems at the launch of its 67th issue (Bones & Breath) at The London Review Bookshop – handy for the British museum. The distinctive L-shaped room is surprisingly good acoustically, and there’s a real buzz sitting in such close proximity to so many books. Perhaps most inspiring is the quality of listening you get at a Magma launch.

Best-of-British-cover[1] And now let’s hear it for Royal Tunbridge Wells, and in particularly that adventurous publisher Paper Swans Press, who launched their Best of British Anthology at The George, not so far from the pantiles where Jane Austin may have sipped a Bacardi Breezer or two (or the Regency equivalent). My fellow contributors gathered from all corners of the UK to share offerings on the topic of British Life.

PAE Centrala 2April saw me in Birmingham’s Centrala Gallery, a great space which specialises in Eastern European art, and overlooks the Grand Union Canal. It was all part of the Birmingham Literature Festival. With Arts Council funding, our UK/Romanian collective PoetryArtExchange could afford to pay for three British poets and two Romanian poets plus a Polish saxophonist to perform poetry to an avant-garde sound track of words and musical sounds. I really let my hair down on castanets, tambourine and ball point pen! PAE - John Riley

Written in Water Constable event 6 May posterBrighton Museum, inside the Prince Regent’s fantasy palace with its minarets and flamboyant painted dragons, is a unique venue. For this year’s Brighton Festival, The Frogmore Press invited a contingent of Brighton-based poets to read their work inspired by clouds and sea. What a delight to share words in front of a magnificent collection of John Constable paintings and sketches.  There was an excellent turn out from the public, some of whom didn’t expect this added extra but stopped to listen to such poets as Clare Best, Maria Jastrzebska, Mandy Pannett, Jeremy Page, Lyn Thomas and Marek Urbanowicz. Thank you to Alexandra Loske for inviting us.

Beyond WordsIf you live within reach of south London, count yourself lucky. Beyond Words at the Gipsy Hill Tavern, is one of the most consistently enjoyable spoken word events and punches well above its weight. Hosts Angela Brodie and Caroline Vero invited me to feature in the summer, alongside Jim Alderson. What could be more convenient than a 2 minute walk to the train station and then up to Victoria in an eye-wink? I got home to Brighton in time for a nightcap.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALoose Muse Covent Garden, run by the inimitable Agnes Meadows, welcomed me as feature poet in June, alongside novelist SV Berlin and blogger Naomi Woddis. Later in Ocober I had the pleasure of featuring at the Winchester’s Loose Muse, alongside Jessica Mookherjee. I had time to visit some Winchester’s wonderfully preserved heritage (including King Arthur’s round table) before heading for The Discovery Centre, which was buzzing with interested poets thanks to organiser Sue Wrinch’s warm and efficient hospitality. I even managed to sell ten copies of Later There Will Be Postcards which is (and will probably remain) a personal best. We were the closing act of the UK-India Festival of Words set up by Sue, which included a flash fiction workshop, a free Bollywood film, poetry workshops and performances by Mona Arshi, Rishi Dastidar and Martyn Crucefix. Aminur

The Indian subcontinent continued to exert its effects, this time through the Bangla poet, Aminur Rahman, who was over in the UK to promote his latest collection, Perpetual Diary. Agnes Meadows organised an evening at The Sun Covent Garden, where Aminur charmed us with his readings in English and Bengali, and Isabel White, Racheal Joseph and myself were the supporting acts.

Petersfield Write Angle 2017Petersfield in Hampshire is a delightful  town with a market-place, herb garden and lovely winding river that runs through its Tudor and Georgian houses. It’s also home to a wonderfully eclectic poetry night – Petersfield Write Angle – run by Leah and Jake Cohen. Petersfield - Claire Dyer They invited myself and novelist/poet Claire Dyer to fill the feature slot for August (always the third Tuesday of the month). The venue is intimate and quirky, and the open mic drew some extraordinary performances, including a wonderful harpist.

Ver poets poster 17I travelled up to St Albans, burial place of Harold (arrow-in-the eye) Godwinson to feature at a Ver Poets Reading, alongside John Mole and Caroline Vero. St Albans public library was a joy – warm, bright and inviting, with an attentive mix of Ver poets and members of the public making up the audience.  John was reading from his Shoestring Press collection Gestures & Counterpoints, and Caroline shared some of her most up-to-the-minute poems.   Chroma 1d

Chroma 1And the final event I featured in this year, was the launch of the brand new lit mag Chroma at Brighton’s bijou ONCA Gallery.  Chroma will focus on a different colour each issue. Issue one is red and heart-stoppingly gorgeous to look at. The launch was awash with talented young artists, musicians and writers, and there was a beautifully curated exhibition of some of photographs and poems  (including my own I’m proud to say).  So thank you to Emma Phillips for fashioning such a sumptuous read!

Copies of Later There Will Be Postcards are still available at £6.20 plus p&p from: GREEN BOTTLE PRESS

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Poetry Gigs I Know and Love

Performance is a great way to test out a new poem or recharge an old one. Looking back over 2015,  I’ve performed at some great gigs – either as an invited feature or open-mic – and learned so much. Thank you all for having me!

Torriano - Tessa LangSo let’s hear it for The Torriano Meeting House, which invited my Stanza Group, Original Poets, led by Tessa Lang (left) to perform some of our poetry in January. People meet every Sunday evening to share poetry at this unique Kentish Town venue. Don’t miss powerful young American Robert Peake reading there on Jan 17th. www.torrianomeetinghouse.wordpress.com

Original Poets meet every third Monday of the month (7pm) at The Bread & Roses pub, Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6DZ. All are welcome to attend.

Rachael Joseph, Barry Brock, Claire Booker, Frank Mariani, Angela Brodie

Rachael Joseph, Barry Brock, Claire Booker, Frank Mariani, Angela Brodie

In Feb, I was at Keat’s House in Hampstead to read a couple of my poems in the Templar Publication‘s 2015 anthology.  www.templarpoetry.com

Then Camden Poetry Series invited five regulars from Beyond Words to be their March feature. Open mic readers can have their poems included in the Camden/Lumen annual anthology which raises money for cold weather shelters. I was back again in June to read at the anthology launch.   www.camdenlumen.wordpress.com

Check out poetic combo Hilaire and Joolz who are featuring at Beyond Words on Tues 5th Jan. www.beyondwordspoetrylondon.co.uk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe launch of a new issue of Magma is an event to relish. Such a swanky venue (London Review of Books), so many great poets, such generous glasses of wine! What a privilege to read two of my poems at the launch of issue 61 (The Street) alongside poets such as Simon Barraclough, Lisa Kelly and Christine Webb. www.magmapoetry.com

Donnel Dempsey

Donnel Dempsey

In June, I headed to Guildford to give forth at the launch of The Keystone Anthology, then later as a feature at Pop Up Poetry. Both are run by formidable team, Janice Windle and Donnel Dempsey, who can pull sizzling hot poetry evenings out of a hat – any hat! Dempsey&Windle – books, pamphlets and poems

Stanza Bonanza June 15And where would we be without the frisson of a Stanza Bonanza? Original Poets (Mark Fiddes, Nicole Piggott, Steve Hoy, Michael Cosham, Tessa Lang and myself) representing Clapham, took on the might of Brixton’s best under the firm baton of Poetry Society’s Paul McGrane. If you’re serious about poetry, get serious about joining The Poetry Society (for as little as £20 a year). It’s been flying the flag for poets since 1909. www.poetrysociety.org.uk

Interpreter's House Launch, OxfordOxford’s eternal spires welcomed me in July to the launch of The Interpreter’s House (issue 59), where I joined fellow contributors in a fantastic evening of poetry, teapots and bonhomie. The submissions window for the summer issue is February. Email editor Martin Malone at theinterpretershouse@aol.com or visit:  www.interpretershouse.com

Drop in InstructionIn September I was guest poet at Poet In The City‘s Drop in at Waterstone’s in Picadilly, London. The theme was ‘Instruction’. My choice of poems included ‘Instructions for Building Straw Huts’ by Yusef Komunyakaa; ‘Timothy Winters’ by Charles Causley; ‘Sun a-shine, rain a-fall by Valerie Bloom; ‘Song’ by W H Auden and a couple of my own poems. Drop-ins are free, with a new theme each month. Bring your own poems or favourites. www.poetinthecity.co.uk

Stephanie James in 'Alleluiah'

Stephanie James in ‘Alleluiah’

Loose Muse is London’s premier event for women writers of all genres, and is expanding fast, with sister ships in Manchester, Cornwall and Winchester. Agnes Meadows, who IS Loose Muse, invited me to bring my short play ‘Alleluiah’ to the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden earlier this year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALoose Muse Winchester, set up and run by poet Sue Wrinch, booked me as their feature in November, alongside poet and novelist Claire Dyer. I can thoroughly recommend both venues as welcoming, well-attended and full of surprises. Women only get to perform, but men are always welcome in the audience. www.loose-muse.com

So here’s hoping that 2016 will be rich in opportunity and inspiration for each and every one of us. A very Happy New Year!

Twenty Poets, Four Gigs and a Fistful of Poems!

What a month. I’ve guested with some fantastic poetic talent at four different gigs in front of really engaged audiences (you know who you are!)

Shuffle Feb 14

First up, Jill Abram curated the February Shuffle at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden and rustled up a gang of six very diverse poets –  (l. to r . Matt Bryden, Mehmet Izbudak, Malika Booker, Michael Scott, Claire Booker and Rachel Smith).  The evening spun brightly around Jill’s warmth, words and way with the mic.

Then I had the pleasure of featuring at the Torriano Meeting House under the able baton of Lisa Kelly. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This time I was in a threesome with Alan Price and Louise Warren, whoOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA read new work and also poems from their latest collections – respectively: ‘Outfoxing Hyenas’ – published by Indigo Dreams, and ‘A Child’s Last Picture Book of the Zoo’ – published by Cinnamon.  Lisa Kelly’s ‘Bloodhound’ (Hearing Eye) is well worth a read too.

‘There may be blood, there will be poetry’ – so The Poetry Society Blurb promised.  Yes, Colchester Stanza Group tried to terrify us with tales of daring do by Essex girl Boudicca over poor old Londinium. But Original Poets stood firm and there was no vini, vidi vici about it.

Stanza Bonanza ColchesterColchester wielded some excellent poetry from Simon Banks, Dave Canning, Candyce Lang, Rosie Sandler and Alex Toms, while Original poets, marching under their leader, Andy Hickmott, gave as good as they got, thanks to fine work by Nicole Carrel, Mark Fiddes, Tessa Lang, Claire Booker and Tom Vaughan.

And finally, at Beyond Words this week, I showcased 15 minutes of my poetry along side the wry humour of headline poet Peter Phillips, who introduced us to the loves of his life – wine, poetry and Oscar the dog.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeyond Words offers poetry, prose and sometimes even music and meets on the first Tuesday of each month at The Gipsy Hill Tavern, a mere 1 minute walk from Gipsy Hill overground station (20 mins from London Bridge). Hosts Angela Brodie and Caroline Vero create a vibrant, fun and very welcoming atmosphere: www.beyondwordspoetrylondon.co.uk

The Torriano Meeting House offers a cornucopia of poetry every Sunday of the year, as well as poetry workshops, Story Night, and Folk events through the year. It’s an easy walk from Kentish Town tube: www.torrianomeetinghouse.wordpress.com

Shuffle, Feb 14 audienceThe Poetry Society is one of Britain’s most dynamic Arts association and provides members with a range of valuable services. It runs The Poetry Place, Covent Garden, where you can enjoy poetry almost every night, including the monthly Shuffle, and occasional Stanza Bonanzas. To find out more go to: www.poetrysociety.org.uk