New Venue and 2014-2015 Programme

Our new season got off to a fantastic start last month; now we're looking forward to a brilliant October event with Allison McVety, whose third collection Lighthouses is just recently out from smith|doorstop, and Ben Wilkinson, whose smith|doorstop pamphlet For Real won this year in the Poetry Business Competition and in the Northern Promise Award.

For 2014-2015 our new venue is the Gonville Hotel on Parker's Piece, which has a ground-floor room and bar and at last a welcome lack of noise pollution. Fourth Tuesday dates for 2014-2015 are below. We're still lining up some wonderful readers for the events and will update the programme as soon as they are confirmed.

All events offer open mic floor spots. Readings start at 8pm, with doors open from 7.30pm, and usually finish well before 10pm.

Tuesday 23rd September 2014 -- Mark Waldron & Fay Roberts -- The Gonville, 8pm, £5/£4

Tuesday 28th October 2014 -- Allison McVety & Ben Wilkinson -- The Gonville, 8pm, £5/£4

Tuesday 25th November 2014, Tuesday 27th January 2015, Tuesday 24th February 2015, Tuesday 24th March 2015, Tuesday 28th April 2015, Tuesday 26th May 2015 -- readers TBC

Tuesday 28th October -- Allison McVety & Ben Wilkinson

Allison McVety’s first collection, The Night Trotsky Came to Stay (smith|doorstop, 2007), was the overall winner of the 2006 Book & Pamphlet Competition, and was shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection Prize 2008. Her poems have appeared in The Times, The Guardian, Poetry Review and Poetry London, have been broadcast on BBC radio and anthologised in the Forward Poems of the Decade 2002-2011 and The Best British Poetry 2013.

'McVety’s talent is for sensuous detail, meticulously crafted moments and a grasp of rhythm that makes her work begin to read like memories of your own.'  Poetry Book Society

A second collection, Miming Happiness, was published in 2010 and a third, Lighthouses, in 2014. In 2011 Allison won the National Poetry Competition and in 2013 was recorded at the Southbank Centre for the Poetry Library’s 60th anniversary.

'Poems brilliantly original... in their exploration of human vulnerability, ambition and desire, the frictions, fascinations, faiths and pains of love, and sometimes they offer a tender penetration of intimacy almost painful to read.'  Orbis

Ben Wilkinson was born in Staffordshire and now lives in Sheffield, Yorkshire. His latest pamphlet of poems, For Real (smith|doorstop, 2014) won the Poetry Business Competition and a 2014 Northern Writers’ Award.

'Ben Wilkinson is one to watch. A fine poet with a deft ear and a nice sense of how the external world presses on the inner one.'  Nick Laird

His poems have appeared everywhere from The Spectator and The Poetry Review to the sides of Sheffield trams and the official Liverpool Football Club magazine. Among other things he works as a critic, reviewing new poetry for The Guardian and The Times Literary Supplement.

'Technically adroit, Ben Wilkinson’s poems are also willing to wear their heart on their sleeve. Lyrical and sometimes wistful … There is a great deal of promise in this striking collection.'  Carol Ann Duffy

Tuesday 28th October, The Gonville, Open Mic floor spots, books for sale. Doors 7.30, readings 8pm. Tickets on the door only, £5/£4.


i the window 

It was Virginia’s charcoaled stare 
that put me off: her disappointment 
in me, the reader, before I even started. 
So I walked in to the exam without her: 
without the easel, the skull or the shawl, 
the well-turned stocking, Minta’s
missing brooch. In the hall I watched
the future show its pulse and all the girls, 
the girls who’d read the book, set off 
together, lined up at desks and rowing. 

ii time passes

You need a daubière and too much time –
three days’ absence from the plot. Rump 
bathed overnight in brandy, a stout red 
bought back from France. The liquor’s 
boiled once, added back to beef, calf’s foot, 
lardons, les legumes. For six hours – or more – 
it idles. It can’t be over-cooked. It will not 
spoil. At table, a stream of consciousness 
breaks out. And it rains. It rains. If not 
the stew what was the woman on about. 

iii to the lighthouse 

The year I gave the book another go, 
[the year my mother died], I learned 
everything big happens in parenthesis –
marriage, birth, the War. Poetry. Is it the full 
manuscript or just the bits in the middle 
that count. Is it the woman at the window, 
marking the hours, from cover to cover – 
or these few lines: that as she eased out from
the bank and in to the water the brackets 
of it opened and closed about her. 

Allison McVety (from Lighthouses)


For you, the catch wasn't something caught:
not word or contender, attention or fire.
Not the almost-missed train, or the sort
of wave surfers might wait an entire 
lifetime for. Not the promise that leaves
the old man adrift for days, his boat
creaking, miles offshore. Nor what cleaves
the heart in two, that left your throat
parched and mute for taking pill
after yellow-green pill, the black-blue
taste the price you paid to kill
the two-parts sadness to one-part anger.
No. The catch was what you could never
let go. It's what you carried, and still do.

Ben Wilkinson (from For Real)