Today I made my first visit to the Troubadour cafe, after thinking about it for a long time – I thought I’d start by going to one of Anne-Marie Fyfe‘s Coffee House Poetry workshops, which always sound enticing. The theme was ‘bridges’, and the first irony of the day was my inability to locate Wandsworth Bridge, despite the satnav lady giving it her best shot. Thankfully I managed it second time around. I’m glad I drove – although it’s a couple of hours away from where I live, parking around the Troubadour is free and easy on a Sunday, whereas the rail service from the South coast is non-existent on Sundays, making for miserable four-hour journeys. And it was pouring with rain when I left so jumping into the car was wonderful.
There’s something a tad intimidating about the Troubadour cafe – the door is solid and heavy so it’s as if you have to be ‘in the know’ to enter. The interior is, well, quirky. As I quietly ordered my cup of tea, wondering if I’d see anyone I knew, it was a relief to hear my name being called from out of the darkness by none other than the grande dame of Swindon Poetry, Hilda Sheehan. Brilliant – and when I uploaded my photos I realised I’d captured Hilda in shot without noticing – ha ha! Hilda introduced me to Anne-Marie and some of of the participants, many of whose names I knew – Angela Kirby, Dorothy Yamamoto, Jill Abram. There was a slight panic as Hilda and I rushed upstairs for the start of the workshop only to find ourselves in someone’s kitchen. Ooops! Luckily no-one appeared to ask what the hell we were doing there. All I can say is that the door to the gallery is right next to someone’s flat. You have been warned!
It was a well-run writing workshop – to time, with lots of reading material to get inspiration from and to take away to read properly later. Anne-Marie was a warm & supportive tutor with a toolbox of tricks, from guided writing exercises to a pack of bridge photos around which we were to invited to write just one line before moving onto the next. In the break we had time to polish up a poem to share, and although I didn’t come up with anything very original it served its purpose to get me thinking and writing. Lots of interesting stuff produced by others.
There were rather a lot of participants, although for once I wasn’t bothered by this. And I was lucky to find myself sitting between two lovely poets whose names rang a bell and who I’ve since looked up, to discover they are indeed both talented and accomplished writers: Agnieszka Studzinska and Frances Galleymore. Exciting and humbling to have been in such good company. I’ll be back.