New Season, New Permanent Venue

Our next event is Tuesday 27th October -- a Carcanet New Poetries special -- see below for details. We are lining up some brilliant readings for the autumn and winter, and have a new permanent home for the whole season. All events will be upstairs at the lovely CB2 Bistro Café on Norfolk Street, where there is plenty of room for us to swing a poet or two, and a great bar/café downstairs where you can get all manner of drinks, cakes and savoury delights. Here is our venue information page. Now, we realise there is a slight possibility of confusion, so to be clear... we are still called CB1 Poetry, but we are at CB2 Café, not at our origin/namesake of CB1 Café on Mill Road. Good to get that off our chest...

Tuesday 27th October - Carcanet New Poetries

Join us at 8pm upstairs at CB2 Café for this brilliant special event celebrating Carcanet New Poetries. We have no fewer than seven highly talented readers for your delight: Vahni Capildeo, John Clegg, Adam Crothers, Ben Rogers, Lesley Saunders, Claudine Toutoungi and Rebecca Watts

As always, doors open at 7.30 for an 8pm start to the readings; payment on the door only £5/£4 concessions; first come first served 2-minute open mic spots will be available (ask for the sign-up sheet on arriving) and there will be books by guest readers for sale.

Vahni Capildeo

Vahni Capildeo is a British Trinidadian writer of poetry and prose. Her recent books are Utter (Peepal Tree, 2013) and Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet, forthcoming 2016). In 2014 she was a judge for the Forward Prizes and the Small Axe Poetry Competition. She is co-creating new responses to Euripides Bacchae.

Simple Complex Shapes

Rain is falling gently on a sloping roof.
How am I to stay awake?

Leopardcats petition for their morning meats,
piteous, round-mouthed.

Look for them till you no longer
look at them. Bright sky.

They could not make a home with you
nor wait at home with you;

always they go home in you,
every happy solitude.

John Clegg

John Clegg was born in Chester in 1986 and grew up in Cambridge. He studied for a PhD at Durham University. In 2013, he received an Eric Gregory Award. A pamphlet, Captain Love and the Five Joaquins, is published by Emma Press. He works as a bookseller in London.

Donald Davie in Nashville

‘However sparred or fierce
the furzy elements…’ - the steel guitars
he never learnt to recognise,
Merle Haggard’s voice, a bed of tinny
feedback - ‘let them be but few,
and spaciously dispersed,
and excellence appears.’
His taxi to the airport
ups the volume on a gospel show.

A transplant, hating country music,
his new campus, how the students
see him as a pinko Brit
and not the brawling Tory of PN Review,
he takes a backward look at Music City -
neon bars, the empty megachurch. It’s sparse as hell.

Adam Crothers

Adam Crothers was born in Belfast in 1984. He lives in Cambridge, where he completed a PhD in English at Girton College in 2010; he works as a library assistant, book reviewer and teacher. He regularly features in CB1 open mics, and has been published in a range of magazines including PN Review.

Art Forsaking Art

The graveyards back onto allotments here
and there. The cattle mourn the pastoral.
Their lowing is a kind of high: it thrills
the currents of the air. Young leaves it wor-

ries. Rising godlike with fists full of throat
as train wrecks plot their figures on a graph.
I don’t identify with sociopaths.
It doesn’t take a lot to get my goat.

The slavery museum in Liverpool:
a crude ceramic favouring abolition
is seeking thanks for having stayed its hand.

Its simple generosity seems failed.
Upon the sunshine, questions fall. Aspersions.
The sleet is also culturally determined.

Ben Rogers

Ben Rogers lives and works in London. He studied English at Cambridge and Cinema & TV Studies at the British Film Institute. His poems have appeared in publications including Magma, 14, Succour and Long Poem Magazine. A pamphlet is forthcoming from Emma Press.

Searching for a Woman in Fes

“That way.” He takes the coin, returns to dice
and I follow the trace of his finger through

a large arch, a yawn of blue and gold, down
streets cut like rivers, so old they’ve dropped

names, stamped out by the heavy tread of mules.
I know you’re here. Children scatter like seeds,

little puffs of spice, one stepping up,
chiming out “chips and gravy, chips and gravy,”

as though imaginary food will solace the lost.
He leads me (not for free) down gaunt alleys,

where walls lean in, shedding scorched skin
and then he’s gone, just dust, orange peel, the wail

of fourth prayer. I pass stalls sloped with garlic,
coils of fabric, the odd head of camel, to reach

a chair, feeling steam melt from sticky mint tea,
the out-of-tune fuzz of a television fizz on my ear

and watching the hand of a man playing dominoes,
tapping his temple as he stubs out a dead end.

Lesley Saunders

Lesley Saunders has published five books of poetry and collaborated with artists, photographers, sculptors, dancers, and a composer and choir. Her most recent collection, The Walls Have Angels, was inspired by a residency at Acton Court, a hauntingly beautiful Tudor house, and its summer visitors in 1535, King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.


Elephants are easily terrified, the brightness
bouncing off the ice crystals burns their eyes.
Rome is still a week away down breakneck scarps

and frozen roads; half the corps are sick,
snow-blind and heart-sick. The light here is full
of damage, white, white, you must blacken

the skin beneath your eyes with charcoal lest
the glare, like a hawk who drives death into
a prey’s brain with her middle claw, transfix you.

Some days we offer no resistance to the light,
we are stranded above the snowline, above
the drop, and our tears are unstoppable.

Claudine Toutoungi

Claudine Toutoungi’s poetry has appeared in various publications including PN Review and Magma. Her plays Bit Part and Slipping have been produced by the Stephen Joseph Theatre. She adapted Slipping for BBC Radio 4 in 2014. She is currently writing Deliverers, a new play for BBC Radio 4.

Without Moorings

Yesterday when you were upset,I
wanted to tell you - things get
rubbed out all the time,

Faces, thoughts, lines of communication. Take this empty space, around which the artist has sketched the beige sizzle of hot sand, the cry of an out- of-sight gull, the breath of a sleeping child sighing behind drawn-down blinds. All the people in it have left, or died or are in hiding and even the unmanned boats go nowhere, save for one without moorings nosing towards freedom on a fishless sea.

Rebecca Watts

Rebecca Watts was born in Suffolk in 1983 and now lives in Cambridge, where she works in a library and as a freelance editor. In 2014 she was selected as one of the Poetry Trust’s Aldeburgh Eight. She is working towards her first collection. She regularly features in CB1 open mic spots, and has been published in PN Review, The North, and various other magazines.

The Molecatcher’s Warning

Nobody asked or answered questions out there. Ten miles from the nearest anywhere the landscape was a disbanded library. Only the moles remained strung on a barbed wire fence, a dozen antiquated books forced open. It must’ve been the north-east wind or a bandit crow starved of familiar company that picked them over so - not a scrap hanging on inside the stretched, taupe skins, their spines disintegrating. “Read in me” they wanted to declare “how it all ends”. But the threads which once had a hold on their soft hearts dangled, loose and crisp. And their kin can’t read anything but earth.