Having recently discovered both the Troubadour Coffee House in Old Brompton Road and Anne-Marie Fyfe, her poetry collection ‘Understudies’ currently travels backwards and forwards with me on the bus and train.
But today, Sunday, fellow poets gather at lunchtime in a room next to the cafe where Anne-Marie casts a magic spell over her poetry workshop ‘ Storms’. She reads three storm poems, we share our thoughts about them. Then she launches us into short exercises, encourages some brief feedback, launches into another exercise, reads more poems by well known poets, sets some more exercises and so it goes on. Our pens and pencils are whizzing over our notebooks, with no time for doubts or anxiety.
Arriving early, eating toast and drinking coffee in the Troubadour before the workshop a fellow poet warned me I might be exhausted by the end and she was right!
A break for lunch where we can enjoy some excellent snacks or just a drink next door, then off we go again, this time in an attempt to tidy up one of our draft poems to share. Thirty minutes later round the table we go, some of the poems as forceful as the storms they portray, others gentle, preparing for the rain to come, or looking at the aftermath. There are metaphors or memories. Several poets are so proficient that they have a finished poem. others share a ‘work in progress’ but there is no vanity here, just writing and sharing.
With some trepidation I launch into a short piece about my neighbour’s roof blowing off, ‘the loft now open to God’s scrutiny’ is probably the best line. Like all good tutors who are also experienced poets, Ann Marie takes pleasure in finding a line or two for reflection/admiration in everyone’s contribution.
The journey from and to Brighton has taken 10 hours by the time I get home (buses to Three Bridges due to engineering etc). But I would not have missed it for the world. Three draft poems in my notebook, lots of food for thought, interesting people and enough words and ideas to keep me writing for weeks. Whew! I wish the next poetry reading at Troubadour wasn’t tonight and that I still lived in London because naturally I shall be there!