The Poetry Cafe on ECOS on September 3rd went really well and we've now been asked to provide a session outside at the Silk Mill on FRIDAY 11 SEPTEMBER - 6-8pm.
Entry is free, and there will be fabulous snacks & drinks available from 42 Acres canteen in the courtyard.
Social distancing will of course apply, and the microphone is sanitised after each poet’s use.
Do feel free to drop in and share a poem or two.
I hope you are well and have found positives in this strange summer, perhaps finding the time to write poetry and to read the poems of others. And I hope too that you’ll want to join me at the ECOS amphitheatre on Thursday September 3rd from 7-9pm for a socially-spaced reunion of the Frome Poetry Cafe!
This will be an All Open Mic event, to ensure plenty of time for your own poems, and there will be an actual microphone, so that everyone is sure of being audible while comfortably spaced.
Entry will be £2 as usual - no booking, just bring the coins and I’ll collect them to transfer to the theatre account, which by saving on admin costs will ensure that this is a support event for the Merlin too. .
For the same reason, the bar will not be opened so please bring your own tipple & nibbles, and comfort supports for a seat on the stones too, as you would for an open-air theatre show.
Please do invite friends or anyone you know who has an interest in poetry. Wet weather will be the only reason to cancel.
It will come as no surprise to any of you that we had to cancel this event.
Our guest poet Clive Birnie will be invited to a future cafe, probably this autumn.
We hope you are all finding poems that inspire and comfort you,
Stay well, and see you on the other side!
Clive Birnie's latest pamphlet is with Verve Poetry Press and entitled Palimpsest. This literally means ‘something altered but still bearing traces of its earlier form’.
Clive says "Palimpsest explores a near future where mundane meets magical, truth blurs into fiction and digital and analogue collide”.
Pete the Temp is an award-winning poet, author, and comic - a National Poetry Slam Champion who caused a storm at the last Edinburgh Fringe, and he’s coming to Frome with his show ‘HOMER TO HIP HOP; A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF SPOKEN WORD’ which explores and explains the long tradition of 'spoken word’ poetry.
Pete’s work has been featured on several; BBC programmes and he’s been reviewed as ‘Poetry’s answer to Mark Thomas, so this is a great chance to hear why!
All tickets just £6.50 - do put this in your diary, it should be great!
Monday 10th February will be the first Frome Poetry Cafe of 2020, as always at the Garden Cafe.
As the old year ended in such a conflictive & chaotic way, it seemed like a good idea to give a focus on new beginnings as a general overall theme, and ‘green shoots’ can be extended to the renewal of our landscape too.
Guests of the evening will be Deborah Harvey - who you may have seen at the Merlin Green Platter event last autumn - invited to share more of her work by popular demand, and also Dominic Fisher who won a recent Bristol Poetry Prize who will be returning to the town of his birth.
And of course, the popular Open Mic will be, as always, a key feature. As our February get-together is usually ’the Love Cafe’, do feel free to bring your romantic poems too - in fact, bring anything you’d like to share with a friendly and attentive audience.
As always, entry is £2 at the counter,y, readings from 7.30 - 9.30, doors open from 7.00.
For the last Poetry Cafe of the year, we’re going party-style, with prezzies: panto tickets donated by Merlin Theatre & book-y gifts from Hunting Raven for six lucky poets!
We’ve had a great year for guest readers, but the Open Mic is always so popular, and so full of great ideas, images, and memories, that there’s never enough time…
So the Festive Poetry Cafe is dedicated to our wonderful audience, with more time to share more than one poem, to more fully appreciate the amazing talents in Frome and around.
Come along to the Garden Cafe in Stony Street on Monday December 9th for a prompt start at 7.30. Entry (which goes direct to the venue) is £2 at the counter, and there will be mince pies and mulled drinks available.
The autumn Poetry Cafe at the Garden Cafe will be on 28th October: we have Stephen Payne as guest poet, and Jo Butts will be back to share the poem that won her the title Frome Festival Poet Laureate 2019 back in July. It won’t specifically be a Halloween event - but any theme is up for grabs!
Before then, there will be an amazing event at the Merlin on October 10th that I do urge you not to miss, and to bring friends too: ‘GREEN PLATTER’ will bring some of finest poets in the southwest together to share an evening celebrating the beauty of our environment, with awareness of the importance and fragility of its ecosystem, in a timely collaboration that will be moving as well as inspiring.
Multi-prize-winner Rose Flint will be launching her new collection Mapping the Borders, which won the Littoral Press international competition for ‘poems relating to nature, spirituality and environment.’ This is the first public reading of these sensational poems.
Also launching her new collection in Frome, Dawn Gorman will read from Instead, Let Us Say, which won the 2019 Brian Dempsey Memorial Prize - Deborah Harvey will be sharing poems exploring landscape -Rosie Jackson will also read, and Liv Torc who will share her powerful poem Human Emergency, which has had over a thousand appreciative views on Youtube, and there will be projected visuals from Julian Hight whose new book Britain's Forest Story tells the history and legends of our most ancient trees.
There will be an opportunity to buy the poets’ books and pamphlets, including a printed edition of Liv’s spoken word piece, in the foyer after the show. Come at 7pm for a ‘green mezze’ supper prepared by Jo Harrington - (£8.00, pre-booking essential) or be in your seat by 8pm for this unforgettable evening of superb and moving words - £6.50 on the door or prebook box office 01373 465 949.
If you are on facebook, do please find this event and invite friends, and I look forward very much to seeing you there!
The Festival Poetry Cafe is always a fun event, as the Open Mic readings are followed by nomination of one lucky poet to be the Frome Festival Poet Laureate for one year, with a certificate and celebratory bottle of bubbly.
The recipient of this prestigious title is chosen by the guest poet, always a big name on the Spoken Word scene, and this year we’re lucky to have slam winner, Henry Madd.
Come along, with or without a poem to share, to enjoy the wonderful convivial atmosphere at the Garden Cafe - if it’s sunny, we’ll be in the garden.
Only £5, no booking - pay on the door. We start sharp at 7.30 for a 9.30 finish.
As always, organic snacks and drinks are available throughout the event.
Our May Poetry Cafe on 13th features as guest award-winning eco-poet and ex-Fromie Helen Moore, who is returning especially to launch her new collection ’The Mother Country’ - the superb cover image is by Frome artist Marian Bruce.
As usual there will also be an Open Mic session where everyone is welcome to share an original poem.
7.30-9.30, Garden Cafe, £2 at the counter on entry - drinks, snacks, and a friendly group guaranteed.
Being so near Valentine’s day, this is of course billed as Love Night - though where the words will go on the night, no-one ever knows….
As always you are free to bring whatever original poem you like to the Open Mic, but there will be a fair amount of amorous feeling floating around - whether celebratory or regretful, poignant or passionate, tender or vigorously physical, whimsical or frankly funny - all that is up to you…
What I can tell you for certain is that we have a fabulous guest: Liv Torc, who leads the Hip Yak Shack team, organises Womad Poetry tent, and is basically a glittery star in the Milky Way of performance poetry. If you’ve seen Liv already you’ll be thrilled, if you haven’t you’re in for a treat.
So please add Monday 11 Feb to your diary/electronic calendar/wall chart.
Our guests are Paul Tobin whose new poetry collection All Yesterday’s Tomorrows was previewed at this year’s 2000 Trees Festival, plus our 2018 ‘Frome Festival Poet Laureate’ Shauna Robertson with Dawn Gorman, sharing their short collaborative ‘call and response’ set on a theme of Restraint and Release…
And of course, we’ll have our much-loved Open Mic, for your poems, with snacks and drinks on sale, all for just £2 at the Garden Cafe.
Halloween isn’t just pumpkins and witches - in Mexico it’s the Day of the Dead with flamboyant macabre costumes so bring your wildest imaginations as the year turns from summer to winter … party dress optional but feel free!
POETS, PRATTLERS, AND PANDEMONIALISTS… An evening of poetry and theatre like you’ve never seen before. "Breathtakingly good - So well judged in its construction. Human above all... the best thing I've seen in a very long time and if this doesn't get rave reviews I will be shocked." Nadia Kingsley, publisher.
You may already know that Frome Poetry Cafe has occasional ‘big’ events in the Merlin theatre which offer something slightly different - and with a buffet! We have experimented with bistro-style supper onstage during the event, but this time the format will be the more popular option of supper in the foyer beforehand - though you can bring your drinks down for the show!
This extraordinary evening features Steve Pottinger, who was a very popular featured guest in last year’s Festival Poetry Cafe, in a show devised with two of his poet friends. The performance starts at 8pm on Tuesday October 2nd and tickets are startlingly good value at £5.50: supper is £6 extra and will be available from 7pm.
I do hope you will want to support this autumn's Poetry Platter at the Merlin: it’s another of those creative concepts unique to Frome, and I’m thrilled our small town can attract performance poets who are more used to audiences at big festivals - this show premiered at the Edinburgh Festival.
The next Poetry Cafe at the Garden Cafe is the monster one, the FROME FESTIVAL POETRY CAFE, this year more monstrous than ever since the theme of the festival is FRANKENSTEIN! So we actually have TWO flyers, one from our monumental guest ROB BARRATT who has wowed festivals literally across the planet - New South Wales was his last - and the other to remind you that there is also the OPEN MIC to find the 2018 FROME FESTIVAL POET LAUREATE!
The theme for your poems is FRANKENSTEIN… This could be inspired by any aspect of Mary Shelley’s story which is a powerful psychological drama as well as a sci-fi fantasy so do please start thinking and writing… and forward this to your writing groups too!
This is always a huge highlight for the Poetry Cafe as its a festival event but there is still NO TICKET SURCHARGE - just pay cash at the counter as usual.
Matt Duggan, who was a very popular guest last year has a new collection out called ‘A Season in Another World’.
Plus of course the usual Open Mic for your poems, so I hope to see you there!
Monday February 12 is ‘Love Night’ at the Frome Poetry Cafe - always a delightful event, as Open Mic responses range from tender to jaundiced, from sonnet to limerick, from true romance to off-topic-entirely… and to add extra sparkle there will be two terrific guests: a welcome return by Rosie Jackson, always an immensely popular contributor, and a debut spot as guest to Josephine Corcoran, who is also much-published and widely admired.
So this should be a great night! Please bring your poems and your friends to The Garden Cafe, Stony Street, 7.30-9.30 (but come a bit earlier to get a drink and a seat because we start promptly)
As the new exhibition SKETCH was launched on Friday 21st July 2017 at Black Swan Gallery, 'Words at the Black Swan’ writing group will meet on Monday (24th) to respond to the visual stimulus of this exhibition.
These 100 sketch books provide amazing insight into the inspirational processes of a hundred visual artists “undefined - incomplete - and investigative”.
Come to the Black Swan Gallery at 3pm with pen and notebook - and coffee from Divas downstairs if you want - for a 90-minute workshop with Louise Green, poet and writing tutor. £5.00 on arrival, no booking.
Due to unforseen circumstances, the poetry picnic (with optional swimming) at Tellisford (18th July) had to be cancelled.
It may possibly be rescheduled later in the summer.
As always, it’s pay-on-the-door to keep the entry price down, so please put GARDEN CAFE, 7.30-9.30, MON 10 JULY in your diaries now as there’s so much on in that week and it would be great if you can be there to hear our superb guest Deborah Harvey, and to participate in a new venture for our famous ‘Festival Poet Laureate’ contest:
For the first time we have a theme, as we’re inviting poems in any genre that, for you, create your personal ‘Adlestrop’ moment.
Edward Thomas, whose life and work is being celebrated in several other events in the festival, wrote ‘Adlestrop’ after hearing birdsong at railing station shortly before he was killed in the first world war, and this short poem has ever since represented for many readers the way that some small, unexpected moment can somehow be deeply moving.
Deborah Harvey with the 2017 Festival Poet Laureate, B Anne Adriaens
Prize winner Liv Torc
Louise Green will be coming to read her poem on that theme which won the Torbay Poetry Festival contest last year. We’d love you to bring a poem of your own, written in any style or form, which you feel is about one of those rare moments. (If you have a poem you’d prefer to read on another topic, you are welcome to bring this instead and read it after the Adlestrop entries have all been heard.)
As well as the Grand Presentation of certificate & bottle of bubbly to the new Festival Poet Laureate, we’re delighted to have Deborah Harvey as our main guest. Deborah is a highly respected and popular poet who uses lyrical contemporary language to evoke 'landscapes and seascapes, historical stories and mystical poems’. Her new collection ‘Breadcrumbs’ has collected wonderful reviews:
Important poems. They carry us through despair and hope, through myths and imaginings, through violence and insight to deliver us to a place where we are not only enriched but wiser. David Morley
Harvey's poems are astute, well-crafted and delivered with a calm certainty that is hard-won by any poet. Witty, surreal and above all redemptive, this book uncovers truth after truth and, like stars, sets them shining.
You can follow her blog here.
We might be in the garden if the weather is fine & forecast good, which would be an extra delight but it will be a great night anyway so do please come along and bring your friends & your words. Where else could you hear a unique evening of fabulous original poetry for just a fiver - and with organic drinks and snacks available too. I hope to see you there!
From June 19th, Black Swan Arts in Frome will be hosting a poetry workshop to respond to each of the upcoming exhibitions in the Long Gallery.
These will be on the Monday following the Friday night preview, from 3.00-4.30, in the gallery itself. No pre-booking, just come along with note-book and pen for a guided session of response to the current artist’s work.
Future sessions will cost £5, paid direct to the workshop leader, but this ‘restart’ session of workshops for ‘Words at the Black Swan’ will be free, and led by Crysse Morrison.
The artist whose work this first group will engage with is Ricky Roman - you can see his statements here:
The next Frome Poetry Cafe on Monday 24th April features two major names, both reading from their new publications: Whitbread-winning author Lindsay Clarke is joined by Bristol poet Matt Duggan, whose previous collection won the 2015 Erbacce prize for poetry, in an unusual collaboration which we think you will find fascinating and thought-provoking.
Lindsay Clarke, a hugely accomplished Whitbread-winning novelist, will be reading from his acclaimed new collection of poems entitled A Dance with Hermes, using the Greek messenger god to take a fresh look at myths both ancient and modern.
Lindsay says of his latest book A Dance with Hermes “John Moat, co-creator of the Arvon Foundation, envisioned Hermes as guardian deity of the imagination, and this provided my inspiration for a poem which proved the precursor of 48 others.” Matt, multi-published in literary anthologies, is now following his prestigious debut with Dystopia 38.10 with the publication in April of a chapbook titled Metropolis.
Our second guest, visiting from Bristol, is Matt Duggan who is following his prize-winning first book Dystopia 38.10 with a new collection entitled Metropolis. We’re very pleased that Matt has included a visit to Frome on his launch tour!
And as usual there will be an Open Mic session, where you can share your own words on modern life - or any other theme!
This double bill is a big privilege for our small Poetry Cafe so I hope to see you at the Garden Cafe on Monday 24 April! Entry is still just £2 on the door, but there’ll be books on sale!!! - plus of course the usual organic snacks and drinks…
Doors open 7pm for 7.30 start and early arrival recommended as space is limited.
If you’ve been before you’ll know how Poetry Platter events play: the stage becomes a shared space, with listeners and performers sitting together at small tables, with individual tapas platters and their drinks. This transforms the venue into an intimate space with a party atmosphere - perfect for poetry performance.
I’ll be introducing five fabulous performance poets: Liv Torc and Chris Redmond from the immensely popular Hip Yak Shack, Hannah Teasdale who’s one our favourite Cafe guests, Bristol’s brilliant Buddy Carson the founder of Stand Up for Lyricism, and awesome Frome-bred rapper JXJ. Jo Harrington, the creative genius behindTender Loving Kitchen, will provide your tapas supper and the bar will be open throughout.
This quirky ‘occasional event’ in the Merlin’s calendar has been gathering a growing following, and this particular line-up is an amazing opportunity to hear performers at the vibrant edge of the poetry scene. And it’s only £11.50! I really hope you’ll want to come along, and that you’ll book seat and supper for the full experience.
http://www.merlintheatre.co.uk or 01373 465949
But if you can’t wait till 7.45 for your supper, or you don’t know if you’ll be free that night, you can still walk up on the night and watch the fun from the auditorium for £5.50.
There’s a facebook link to the event here, if you want to invite your friends:
It's Valentine Night and and Frome Poetry Cafe is there to take the yucch! away with a brilliant night of tough-talking words on the subject of love, loss, lust and longing…
We have an especially dazzling guest spot on MONDAY FEBRUARY 13th with a visit from Bristol’s superb performance quartet THE SPOKE: Elizabeth Parker, Paul Deaton, Claire Williamson and Bob Walton are all multi-published poets & sure to give us a range of reflections on the subject of love to make us laugh, sigh, and say ‘ahh’...
And as always there will be our popular Open Mic spot, so do bring along a poem of your own to share - that’s more than half the fun!
So do come along to the Garden Cafe on Monday February 13th - drinks & snacks available - £2 (pay at the counter please) - doors will be open from 7pm for a 7.30 start.
Autumn is here, and Frome Poetry Cafe celebrates the season of 'gathering swallows twittering in the skies' on Monday October 3rd with a session that’s bound to be superb - we have as special guest the popular Bristol poet Hannah Teasdale whose new collection ‘Laid Bare’ has already received critical acclaim:
Challenging, vulnerable and unapologetically honest, Hannah’s poetry reawakens senses you had forgotten you ever had’ - Katie Agnew, novelist
‘Hannah’s latest collection, Laid Bare’ is a gift of emotion, it’s knotty and heartbreaking and effortless. If Joni Mitchell had 6 kids, a bottle of valium and a pizza in the oven – this is what she would have written.’ - Liv Torc - Hip Yak Poetry Shack
'Hannah’s beautifully crafted yet brutally honest verses make for some of the realest and most poetic material you will hear from a spoken word set. Most of her work is inspired by personal experiences which the audience are invited to relive with her as she takes you on a journey of personal acceptance, learning and progression through eloquent prosody and stunning imagery.' - Danny Pandolfi - Raise The Bar
And of course there’ll be our usual fantastic Open Mic spot, as well as drinks and snacks - and seats if you come early enough! It all kicks off at 7.30 at the Garden Cafe in Stony Street, still £2 (at the counter on entry) so bring your poems about Autumn (or anything else) for a wonderful sound-bath of words.
Frome Festival is only a month away now, and you’ve probably already started planning what to book, so this is a reminder that the Poetry Cafe is still a pay-on-the-door ONLY event!
By keeping this no-ticket, we can bring you a top quality guest - so do put the date in your diary NOW! and look forward to enjoying Steve Pottinger, rising star on the national festival scene. His performances have been hailed as ‘redefining poetry’ and his collection More Bees Bigger Bonnets’ was reviewed as ‘ a world changer - contemporary poetry seeking with humour and insight to challenge the powers that be…’ sounds perfect for Frome!
Our Open Mic on festival night is special too, as one lucky contributor will be awarded the coveted title ‘2016 Poet Laureate’ - bring your own poem & it could be you!
Festival Poetry Cafe is always a great night so come early (and bring a jacket, just in case we’re in the garden… it has happened, twice, and poetry under the stars on a balmy night is an unforgettable experience…)
So that’s Monday 4th July - Garden Cafe in Stony Street - 7.30 start - £5. Drinks and snacks available.
“A very handsome book… Jackson writes about pain with exactitude and wit… her poems are as well observed as the art that she depicts” - all this and more from the first review of this sparkling new collection from Frome’s own Rosie Jackson!
Rosie is always a popular reader at the Poetry Cafe and we’re delighted to host the launch of The Light Box on Monday April 18th.
LOVE NIGHT AT THE FROME POETRY CAFE
Which means a definitely great guest - Stephen Payne - and hopefully a lively & varied open mic!
One lucky reader will go home with a superb hardback collection of Love Poems donated by Hunting Raven Books, and we’ll all go home buzzing with warm fuzzy feelings...
Garden Cafe in Stony Street, starting 7.30 & usual conditions apply: viz £2 on the door, come earlier to get your drinks and be sure of a seat.
Featuring Performance Poet David Johnson and Bridport 2013 First Prize Winner Daisy Behagg.
Poetry Platter presents:
2013 Frome Festival Poet Laureate, as voted by the audience.
Frome Poetry Café celebrated April fools and follies with the amazing Muriel Lavender, whose wicked wit and sensational attire are raising eyebrows and spirits across the southwest.
Burlesque literally means to make a joke of things, though we like the saucy trappings too.
Rose Flint, Muriel Lavender, Wayne Hill, Dianne Penny, Crysse Morrison and David Johnson.
"...…what a pleasure. Everyone loved it. A couple of tough old nuts with me were really taken by the combination of voices, the words, the warm congenial atmosphere. Serious achievement. I liked the feeling of an intimate cafe, whose walls were the theatre seats rising in the dark. Big thanks again for putting it all together.
Such a strong thing to be able to invent and experiment and see things work so well. Hats off to the Merlin for supporting you.
Lovely food, too! " - Wayne Hill.
Panto night at Poetry Café Wednesday 9th December
The Garden Café was crammed on Wednesday 9th December when Theatre Director Paula Hammond adjudicated the poetry and prose performances at the annual Merlin Pantomime Poetry Café night.
Eighteen contestants for prizes - theatre tickets and panto merchandise delighted the packed room with an amazing diversity of moods and memorable moments.
"That's not my name" was the theme, since this year's Merlin show features Rumpelstiltskin, and stories and verses
all celebrated identity in some way.
Paula (centre) with Dianne and Gordon
Everyone had their own personal favourites, but Paula's final pick was popular with the whole audience:
Phyllis Higgins and Linda Perry, who both had a witty take on the theme, took the runner-up prizes, with Dianne Penny and Gordon Graft joint First prize winners. Both these talented performance poets brought a personal angle to the seasonal spangle, thought-provoking as well as moving. (pictures) Paula (centre) with Dianne and Gordon, and below with organiser Crysse.
Dianne with organiser Crysse
Folk & Poetry Retro Night at the Garden Café
We had no idea what to expect from Poetry and Folk Retro Night at the Garden Cafe, but this random mix of guitarists and wordsmiths turned out to be a cracking evening.
Mo Robinson, over from California, gave us three high-energy spots, mingling his own powerful narrative ballads with political satire from Tom Russell, and 15 open-mic performers ensured a stonking eclectic medley of music and words. Several contributors seized the retro theme: Roger Wiltshire's witty rant inspired responses from both Lucy and Neil Howlett. Andy (Leonardo's Bicycle) Morten dropped by; Dianne Penny performed a moving personal tribute to Sharon Olds, and it was great to see how well the high-energy of music mixed with reflective poetry. Definitely a formula to repeat.
May Madness came to the Poetry Cafe, led by delightful guest poets Dianne Penny and Jo Butts and enthusiastically supported by sixteen readers and performers from the floor.
Surprise open-mic contributor was Bristol slam-champ David Johnson with an entertaining take on the madness of the modern world. All the pieces were much appreciated by the attentive audience, with Phyllis Higgins' poem musing on meanings of 'Made' and Alison Clink's short story 'Nipples' as hilarious highlights in the open-mic section.
Next events will be in the festival -
CHIMES OF FREEDOM RANG OUT AT THE MERLIN
A wealth of talented writers and readers from Frome and beyond, took to the stage at the Merlin Theatre last Thursday.
Internationally renowned writer and Booker Prize judge Victoria Glendinning, introduced this eclectic mix who read works from famous writers. Many of these writers have been imprisoned or killed for their belief in the right of free speech. A single empty chair on the stage poignantly represented any writer who could not be there, because they were incarcerated.
Organised by local writer Crysse Morrison, the evening was in aid of Pen. Now an international charity, it was set up in 1921 to promote literature as a means of greater understanding between cultures. H.G. Wells, John Galsworthy and other luminaries were founding members. Pen now has groups in over 100 countries throughout the world.
The evening delighted the well-attended house with writings as diverse as Euripides to Pinter. Local best selling author Steve Voake narrated a moving account from Iranian writer Reza Baraheni.
Award-winning poet Rose Flint read with great flair, ‘I am not Afraid’, an uplifting poem by the Russian dissident writer Irina Ratushinskaya.
Further demonstrating its international flavour, we were treated to a Spanish rendition of Pablo Neruda’s writing by Jim Taylor, who also read the English translation.
We heard an amusing account of how John Thelwall campaigned for our civil liberties in 1794, by Steve Poole.
The second part of the evening took on a musical flavour and was very much the domain of the young. Members of Amnesty International Youth Group entertained us with a dazzling array of songs and musical renditions.
The astonishingly competent host Gemma Turnbull introduced a selection of outstanding talent. Luke Dean, pianist extraordinaire who is headed for a stellar musical career, played his jazz interpretation of Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Others entertained us with guitar, flute and songs, many composed by the youngsters themselves. The evening ended with a duo, Steph Parker on the piano playing a song composed by Sam Phripp, whose singing sent us home with joy and hope in our hearts. A truly uplifting evening.
Mardi Gras night at Frome Poetry Cafe Mardi Gras: a dash of razzmatazz, a score of performers, and a Garden Cafe-ful of enthusiastic audience.
The theme of celebration enjoyed wide interpretations, from Stephen Ledbury's ode to Shepton Mallet carnival to John Payne's charming Quantocks bestiary, from Bev's Salvadorian story to Lucy Howlett's fish-eye view of fairground life. James Stokoe brought us Euridice and Rose Flint evoked Venus:
A fantastic range of delightful reads and performances.
The Garden Cafe was crowded on Monday night (1st December) for a scintillating night of poetry and prose.
Guest poets Rose Flint and Malinda Kennedy opened, followed by nineteen local writers all offering thoughts the theme of "Difficult Journeys" inspired by the Merlin Pantomime 'The Wizard of Oz'.
Theatre Director Paula Hammond was delighted with the diversity, and picked out many for special praise, with Linda Perry and Rosie Jackson winning tickets to the pantomime.
Also highly commended were Dianne Penny, John Slater, Lucy Howlett, Caroline Toll and Imogen Cliff.
At Rook Lane Chapel, Bath Street, Frome
Merlin Theatre ‘Spoken Word Coordinator’ Crysse Morrison will break the child-proof cap and shake out measured doses of our featured artists:
· Sassy poetry duo Live & Lippy
· Best selling author Debby Holt, whose novels hit the ‘hot 10’in Heat
· Rose Flint, national and international poetry prize winner
· Witty dialogue from short story queen Alison Clink
· Up-to-the-minute words from Rosie Jackson
· Gordon Graft, popular performance poet
· Frome’s new Festival Poet Laureate: David Sollors
· Magnus Nelson, Frome Festival Fiction Contest top-pick for 2 years running
· Irish charm from personality columnist Niamh Ferguson
· Rosie Eliot with a brand new comedy drama with special guest verminous Caleb Parkin, rodent bard of Poetry Can
· ‘Cabaret Sans Frontiers’ dramatic songsters Annabelle Macfadyen and Howard Vause
All funds raised for Little Gift Theatre Co. and Positive Action on Cancer.
Love in a Warm Climate
Bristol bard David Johnson is our featured guest, reading from his new poetry collection Bombazine
Bring your words of longings, lusts, and sustainable futures to The Garden Cafe in Stony Street,
If it's a fine night we'll be under the stars
readers and audience equally welcome
Not only the 'goofy but uproarious black comedy'
Unmissable, whether you come to compete or to applaud.
Garden Cafe £4
Everyone welcome, readers and audience alike.
The theme is simply Spring - whatever that means to you: burgeoning, bluebells, or mowing the blooming lawn...
Exhuberant 'Big Mouth' wordster Rosemary Dun from Bristol will lead off and then the floor is yours!
7 for 7.30 start, £1.50 at the door.
The very wonderful Luke Wright -"The best young performance poet around" - Observer. - is coming to the Merlin Theatre on 29th March.
"A rip-roaring raconteur..." "This man is a genius."
"Britain's brightest young bard ... hugely engaging performer, smart and widely read without a trace of pretension"
"..genuinely funny and charming ...quick wit and blinding talent... a born performer."
Sunday February 10th, in the Media Arts Studio (opposite Merlin Theatre), Frome.
Wicked workshop led by poet John Richardson 4-6pm and Passionate readings from John and others 7-9pm
The 2008 ‘Valentine Special’ event for Frome poets is especially special – Wiltshire poet John Richardson will be giving a workshop on Love Poetry, followed by a reading with open-mic performances by local poets to be recorded on DVD!
John writes for publication and performance, and believes every passion a fit subject for poetry. He sees poetry as a means of self- exploration, as well as a playful way to explore language and ideas, sounds and rhythms.
Frome poets Live 'n Lippy performing in a multi media event including improvised tribute to Stockhausen
Frome's Garden Cafe was crammed on Monday night (Dec 3rd) as panto season launched with a special Spoken Word event on the theme of fairy tales, frosty weather, and all things seasonal.
18 readers delighted the audience with poetry and stories, showing yet again the amazing talent in and around Frome. Paula Hammond, director of the Merlin, had theatre tickets for the 'best' performance and found judging a hard job with so much quality and variety of imagination.
Rose Flint and Gordon Graft were especially praised for their poetry, and the overall prize went to Phyllis Higgins and Mike Witt for their hilarious comic performances in the best pantomime tradition.
Merlin Theater Foyer
Madabout Words morphs back for another cabaret night of local talent and special guests, featuring audacious duo Live & Lippy, alluring Annabelle, a brace of duelling Festival Poet Laureates, and much much more.
Expect the unexpected as the Merlin foyer seethes with poems, songs, stories, and drama- anything with words. ‘Cos we’re madabout them.
At the Garden Café in Stony Street, Frome
Tread softly… Dreams of glory, reveries over the rainbow, fantasies, destinies, magical mystery tours or even nightmares… The 14th annual National Poetry Day celebrates the theme of Dreams throughout the week of 1st – 4th October.
The writers’ workshop on Monday 1st October will be about exploring this theme in poetry or experimental prose & will be led by Crysse Morrison. There will be a chance to share your words to a wider audience at the Garden Café that night, at the Poetry Dreams Café starting 7.30.
Launch of Crysse Morrison’s anthology “Are we Nearly There Yet” with readings, at Christie’s Wine Bar
Frome Festival Poetry Café
Over 60 people crammed into the Garden Café on Monday July 9th for the festival Poetry Café to hear the political comedy of Elvis McGonegall and to find out which of the competing local poets would win the title ‘Frome Festival Poet Laureate.’
Twelve contestants braved the public vote, and every one was highly rated. An appreciative audience heard a wonderful range of themes and chose two overall favourites: Jenny Gilling from Warminster took the bubbly, with the formal title going to Dave Angus from Bath.
Guest star Elvis rocketed the evening to a fantastic start with his poetic polemic, showing politics, verse, and stand-up comedy can mix into an intoxicating brew with a potent aftertaste. Elvis deals with serious stuff like war and climate change in a way that’s hilarious and passionate too, and his poems are as up-to-the minute as the last match at Wimbledon.
Featuring “Luke Wright – Poet Laureate”
If you were at Frome’s Big Poetry bash ‘Urban Scrawl’ you’ll remember Luke Wright. He’s the one who looked like the lead singer of a boy band and bounded around advocating random homicide.
Since then, Luke has won awards and rave reviews up and down the country. London-lad- makes-bad Luke Wright is back at the Merlin on 10th March, featuring at the Film & Media festival on Saturday night at a one-stop event on his current national tour Luke Wright, Poet Laureate. Don’t miss this “showcase of poetry superbly performed, with very funny and disturbing visuals.”
Workshop and reading with poet James Nash, at Christies Wine Bar.
It was full house once again Frome's Garden Cafe for poetry performance night on Tuesday 13th February. With love in the air, eighteen varied voices entertained a rapt audience with poems of passion, poignancy, wit, and sheer absurdity. Guest poet Rose Flint was stunning in her sensuous observation of emotion and environment, and Gordon Egginton moved from humour to eloquent feeling with breathtaking skill.
From the floor, David Johnson, of Bristol's 'Paralalia' was a big hit with his musings on sex and travel (Two of my favour activities, which I'm often invited to combine) and debut reader Tracy Wall won everyone's heart, and one of the prizes, with her gymnastic musings.
Distributing further prizes among such brilliant readers and performers was a near impossibility, but with the goodwill of a brilliant audience the awards were: Chris Robinson, Mike Witt, Mandy Griffiths, and Annabelle Macfadyen.
Champagne Slam at the Poetry Cafe
Performance poetry for all! Join us for an effervescent evening of varied voices and the chance to win a bottle of bubbly as ‘best on the night’. Lead poet is radio star and multi-slam-champ Peter Hunter,‘the Poetry Hulk”.
The Garden Cafe was bulging at the seams on Monday 10th July when the Festival Champagne Slam returned for a third successful year, with fifteen highly entertaining poets competing in the main event. The poems performed varied from hilarious to moving and thought- provoking, and the attentive audience clearly appreciated the privilege of hearing all the personal thoughts and feelings shared.
The title 'Poet Laureate of Frome Festival Poetry Cafe and the bottle of bubbly - donated by Frome Wholefoods - went by popular acclaim to Gordon Eggington who presented both serious and witty work with conviction and panache.
Peter Hunter, the 'poetry hulk', of BBC Radio 4 fame, opened and closed the evening's feast of words and treated us to some hot-off- the-press thoughts on Zidane's football action. Many thanks are due to all those who participated, and to Will Angeloro for supplying the sounds system so that the overflowing audience could all enjoy the night.
Poetry on the theme of beat and journey, at Christies Wine Bar.
Frome’s Garden Cafe was full to capacity and beyond as poetry-lovers flocked to enjoy 30 poets present their words on Valentine’s eve.
Appropriately, the main focus was on love in it’s many guises, with moods ranging from witty cynicism to poignant memories from featured guests Lucy Howlett Mike Greenhaugh, Mandy Griffiths and the diverse voices of ‘open mic’ performances. Among those especially appreciated were pieces by Mike Witt, Linda Perry, Leah Campangna, Geoff Hooper, Fred Phelps and Kevan Manwaring, each of who took home a Valentine gift as a prize. ‘A brilliant evening’ was the verdict of one visitor - ‘really enjoyable readings, and a terrific atmosphere. Frome is clearly still at the forefront of Spoken Word in the southwest.’
Frome Festival Poetry Cafe
in the Garden Cafe from 7.30
Since the first festival, Frome has emerged as a mini-mecca for poets and poetry performance. The inaugural Champagne Slam in 2004 was a sparkling success and this year’s event promises further effervescent entertainment, as guest of the night is scintillating slam champion and TV bard Rob Gee.
Rob’s live act combines stand-up comedy, theatricality and rap. Veteran of over a thousand live shows and every major festival, he has toured Europe and performed with luminaries from Jo Brand to Tony Benn, Harold Pinter to John Cooper Clarke. “One of the most gifted and funny poets in Britain today” was the verdict of Hammer And Tongue , and Rideout reported: “Razor-sharp wit, machine-gun delivery and the ability to see the bizarre in everyday situations – Rob Gee has it all”
And as if Rob’s act isn’t enough, the cream of local and not-so-local poets will be competing for the prestigious title of Frome Champagne Slam winner. This is an open contest, with anyone welcome to sign up on the night to read a short poem - or 2 - and brave the verdict of the audience! The focus is on fun, so newcomers can enjoy the challenge of performing alongside seasoned slammers.
As always, drinks and snacks are organic and delicious. If the evening is fine, the event will be in the garden. Come early to be sure of a seat.
An enthusiastic Full House at the Festival Poetry Cafe on Monday night enjoyed the ranting antics of guest performer Rob Gee and 18 local and not-so-local poets as they competed for the prestigious title "Champagne Slam Champion". Poems varied from hilarious to poignant, but all were rated excellent by the appreciative audience.
Voted best on the night were: debut slammer Anne Newbegin, Mike Greenhough from Cardiff, and Frome's very talented Lucy Howlett, with Gilly Duckworth from Bristol scooping the title and the champagne. Gilly performs as 'Mo the People's Nun' .
The first poetry cafe of the year was an all open-mic affair, with contributions from regulars and from three voices new to Frome. Hazel Stewart stood in for resident mc Crysse Morrison (currently running writer's workshops in Thailand - in an area unaffected directly by the destruction of the Tsunami!) to introduce poems on the usual wide variety of subjects and diversity of styles.
The first half of the evening's readings opened with a thoughtful piece on the Tsunami from Mary Tout, and the programme included mythological themes from Norman Hodghton and Helen Feltham, and light-hearted pieces from Chris Robinson, Wren Thatcher, John Payne and Steve Barton. New voice Lesley Rocker braved his first public reading in the first half and encouraged fellow cafe 'newbies' George Phipps-Lang and Tor to join the regulars in the second half. More serious, reflective pieces were offered from Chris, Wren and John after the break, balancing the overall mood of the evening. Hazel read a couple of 'seasonal' poems-in-progress, as well as some favourite lines from young poets at Selwood School, and reminded everyone of the forthcoming URBAN SCRAWL event at the Merlin on 11th February.
Frome Poetry Cafe continues to attract the liveliest and most entertaining voices performing in the southwest today, and at the November event played host to 'Brendan the Pop Poet' from Bath. Winner of poetry slam contests in Bristol and Glastonbury and a previous Bard of Bath, Brendan's topical rhyming verses vary from hilarious to bitingly political and are always memorable. Other poets brought a brilliant range of themes and styles, from thoughtful seasonal reflections to witty ditties. Lucy Howlett, our youngest contributor, again revealed a rare talent both in writing and presentation, with both her poems - on school dinners and life as viewed by a ghost - showing awareness of social issues as well as superb poetic style.
Following the success of the festival 'Champagne Slam', Frome Poetry Cafe on Monday 6th September features one of the most sparkling names on the slam southwest scene.
Lucy English, successful novelist and creative writing tutor, won a Bristol Poetry slam in 1996 and has never looked back. She is already a veteran of big-name literary festivals, has toured extensively, and her poetry has been broadcast in BBC "Poetry Please" and "Loose Ends" programmes.
As well as welcoming Lucy as our guest poet, we will also have the usual 'open mic' bookable on the night.
Readings and performances run as usual from 7.30 to 9.30 and all are welcome but space is limited so come early for a seat. Entrance £1.50 at the door.
As a special event for Frome Festival, the Poetry Cafe on July 2nd will be an all open-mic event with a Champagne Slam!
If the thought of a slam! fills you with poetic panic, or even bardic bewilderment, have no fear - this will be a good-humoured Frome-style version of this usually-competitive ‘extreme sport for poets.’ Why not come along and find out more?
If you want to enter, bring 2 or more poems of maximum 3 minutes reading time. Voting will be by audience appreciation, with a bottle of bubbly to the lucky favourite. Non-competing poets are also welcome. We want this to be a relaxed and enjoyable night for everyone, with just a splash of lively contest in the middle.
If the night is warm we’ll be in the garden, so tell your friends and join us for poems under the stars.
As a special event for Frome Festival, the Poetry Cafe on July 2nd will be an all open-mic event with a Champagne Slam! - a subversively good-humoured Frome-style version of this extreme sport for poets. If you want to enter, bring 2 or more poems of maximum 3 minutes reading time. Voting will be by audience appreciation, with a bottle of bubbly to the lucky favourite. Non-competing poets are also welcome. We want this to be a relaxed and enjoyable night for everyone, with just a splash of lively contest in the middle.
If the night is warm we'll be in the garden, so tell your friends and come and join us for poems under the stars.
It's Friday July 9th:, you're nearly all festivalled out, there's Glen Miller down the road and music oozing from every pub in Frome. Where to go, where to go? Easy. Slide into the Garden Cafe for a unique fusion of music and words as LIQUID JAM MEETS THE LLAMA.
Back by popular demand after their amazingly successful debut last summer, this is the line-up that captivated an audience and seduced Will Angeloro into creatively mastering their first CD - LIQUID JAM AT THE GARDEN CAFE. With new material especially for the night, enjoy Brian Tasker's gem-like haiku, Annabelle Macfadyen's poignant and exquisite singing, Sam Moran's dark and haunting poetry, and the unique LIQUID JAM trio of Laurence Parnell, Hazel Stewart and Crysse Morrison: "superb.. really exceptional... breaking new ground"
A new voice, Salisbury poet and 'Prince of Tragedy' Marcus Smykowski is also guesting, and the whole evening will be recorded live by Will Angeloro.
With an entry price of only £4.50, on the door, how can you resist? If the evening is fine we'll be in the garden and performing from 7.30 onwards. Come early for superb organic food and wine, and even more delicious entertainment.
Frome Poetry Cafe March 1st
In sub-zero temperatures Frome Poetry Cafe raised the temperature to simmering with an extraordinariy and memorable lead session by Salisbury poet Marcus Smykowski, who blended raw emotion with sensuousness in his dark and powerful poems.
Sixteen supporting poets also took the floor to provide a wide diversity of themes from comic to poignant. Time became a recurrant theme, and there were moving elemental pieces from Helen Feltham and newcomer 'Rachel'. Among several debuting at the Poetry Cafe, Scott Maciillican from Vancouver and 'Brendan the Pop Poet' from Bath proved popular new voices while regular readers were also highly appreciated.
The next Poetry Cafe will be on May 3rd, with visiting poets from the Indian King Arts Centre in Cornwall and, as always, an open mic session for your poems.
Frome's Garden Cafe was crowded yet again on Monday November 3rd for another successful night of the popular Poetry Cafe.
The readings opened with a set from the young poets of Selwood Middle School, whose work ranged from humourous to deeply thoughtful and was presented with delightful energy to an appreciative audience. Seven young poets read personal work, some of which had been inspired by a workshop on National Poetry Day by performance poet Hazel Stewart. All the work was strong, with several pieces standing out, such as Robyn Clarke's poem Black and the confident performance of trio Ami Krajniewski, Sophie Campbell and Lucy Thomas.
Lead poet for the night was Frances Fletcher, whose lyrical yet often spiky poems encompass all of life's experiences. Frances says she writes "from and for the heart - about issues that affect myself and other human beings...What can I do? speak my truth and speak it loud." Her
lilting rhythms challenged current concepts from 'civilised society' to 'sensitive men'!
Twelve other poets, including two debut performers, read work ranging from Mike Johnson's witty frivolity and Stephen Bingham's discovery of Hitler's hamster to more serious themes and tributes to mourned friends.
All the poems were much enjoyed.
The next Poetry Cafe will be on January 5th 2004
The last Poetry Cafe of the summer, held on Monday September 1st at the Garden Cafe, was once again filled to capacity by an attentive audience who found much to enjoy.
Guest of the night, Adrian Bishop, ably fulfilled his promise to provide a witty social commentary from a surreal world of adulterous gorillas and jobseeking Daleks, and an angel exasperated by the task of teaching Jesus to walk on water.
Adrian's quirky humour was complemented by a range of other styles, with thirteen local and not-so-local poets reading their work throughout the evening. Regular favourites were joined by several poets making their debut as performers.
Themes ranged from Stephen Bingham's problems when attempting to sex a duck in winter to Caroline Toll's inspirational personal dragon which shines in a dark cave.
One of the new voices on the Frome poetry scene was Frances Fletcher. Frances admits to being influenced by Benjamin Zephaniah in her lyrical rhythms. She will be returning to the next Poetry Cafe on November 3rd as a lead poet.
The Garden Cafe in Frome was crammed to capacity and beyond on the final Friday in August for an innovative event billed simply as Liquid Jam - a wonderful eclectic mix of words and music combining into an exciting evening of first class entertainment.
The opening set, a three-way collaboration between musician Laurence Parnell and poets Crysse Morrison and Hazel Stewart, used the musician's amazing loop-station ("a glorified echo-box" ) to amazing effect.
Laurence's songs, like his instrumental interludes, are evocative and lyrical and both poets brought their own sensual yet scathing perceptions to the themes of lonliness and love.
The second set began with a vibrant performance by Annabelle Macfadyen of her new song Sans les Mots. Accompanied by accordian, this was written especially for this event to celebrate the enriching reciprocity between wordsmiths and musicians. Mike and Noelle McElya brought in the sunshine of their Drum Company with lively djembe drum rhythms, followed by some of the bitingly passionate poetry of Sam Moran. The pace changed with a song and reading from Liz Ounsted, followed by Brian Tasker whose delicate haiku were subtly decorated by sounds of rainsticks and haunting chimes. Emily Gerrard's plangent poem Requiem to Maeve, followed by a lament on guitar by Laurence Parnell, ended this incredibly varied and exciting set.
Despite the late hour many of the audience stayed for more, and were rewarded by a fine didgeridoo and djembe piece featuring Dave McAleece from Edinburgh followed by strong rootsy poems from new voice Frances Fletcher. Brian Tasker returned to the mic by popular demand, and the evening ended as it had begun with a final set from Laurence Parnell and poets Hazel and Crysse. As the audience began to leave, one question recurred among the enthusiasm and inspiration: when's the next Liquid Jam? If the organisers respond to public demand and stage another similar event, judging from the comments there are likely to be even more people wanting to take part.
"Session to be held in the garden, weather permitting" the brochure stated, and the weather permitted, offering a beautiful balmy night on Monday 7th July as seventy poets and listeners gathered at Frome's Garden Cafe for three hours of top-quality lyrical entertainment.
Poets from as far afield as Bristol, Pilton, and Salisbury joined with local writers, some familiar faces and others making their debut. Readings ranged from the shortest poem ever written -"My newt's minute" - to Villanelle, Haiku, and free verse, with personal styles varying from elegiac to comical.
Highlight of the evening was the featured performance from FnF, those 'Feminists in Fishnet' who refute the charge that feminism has become fuddyduddy with their cutting-edge chic and witty ditties.
A truly inspiring night, and a wonderful event.
Frome's Poetry Cafe with its vibrant and accessible atmosphere was taken as a model of excellence when Salisbury Arts Centre set up a similar venture recently, so it's appropriate that two high-profile poets from the Salisbury Poetry Cafe were our guests on May 3rd. Sam Moran and Grace Gauld entertained and enchanted a packed Garden Cafe audience with their varied but equally appealing poetic styles.
As well as regular local poets, who are always appreciated, several first-time voices made their performing debut and were much enjoyed. In particular, Jane Williams's moving poem had everyone spell-bound.
The next session will be a special event for Frome Festival - so come early!Frome Poetry Cafe has become a don't-miss full-house evening.
As well as the popular Open Mic sessions, that funky duo fnf will be sharpening up the cutting edge of performance poetry as featured guests.
The March Poetry Cafe drew a larger than usual crowd, with several new readers as well as visiting performance poet Christine Coleman. Since that night, Chris tells us she has been shortlisted again for another prestigious national award, which won't surprise anyone who heard her contemporary and lyrical pieces which skilfully blend myth and fable into timeless themes with sensuous visual imagery.
Frome's local poets showed their talents too in an exceptionally entertaining evening. Among many highlights were Fred Phelps' dryly humerous poems, a minimalist piece 'From Yew to Me and from Me to Yew' by John Paine, and haunting evocations of Africa from Pippa Howell. A rapt audience also enjoyed poems from Christina Day, Margaret Bond, James Pearce and Mike Case, as well as popular regular readers.
Our 'interval activity' - a whip-round of one-line contributions on the theme of The State of the Nation - created the following caustic cornucopia, sent as promised to the BBC poetry website with a note explaining (excusing?) it as a 10 minute combined effort from the Frome Poetry Cafe
Email to God - need Divine Intervention, PDQ
Tell us all please, what the hell are we to do?
The doves are in a corner, the hawks are overhead
Moral choice and moral right is all they ever said
And if we don't take action, soon we'll all be dead.
Then none of us will care about the Euro
Or the Scud or Patriot or what we used to think
All forever lost in the Federal Bureau.
And the anti-Europeans will really cause a stink.
Wessex will have a government, Worzel will be king
and that can't be worse than the state we're in.
We'll have to make a difference in a different way
-can we have some new Commandments, please; the last lot went astray.
The Poetry Cafe in Frome Somerset, began during the first Frome Festival in 2001 and became a regular and popular event on the first Monday of alternative months. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Frome is a town of enormous charm, with its steep, winding streets, its wealth of beautiful old buildings and its friendly, relaxed atmosphere.
It has more listed buildings than any other town in Somerset and remains the biggest of the five Mendip towns. Frome is renowned for its thriving Arts community and boasts a high number of resident authors, poets and performance artists.
Older than Bath (13 miles north), its history dates from AD685, when St Adhelm founded a mission on the River Frome. The town has largely escaped extensive redevelopment, and is an ideal touring base for the many attractions of the area