We're getting ready for a fantastic new 2017-2018 CB1 Poetry series. Events are at CB2 Café on fourth Tuesdays -- watch this space for more details of the programme. Meanwhile our first event is on 26th September, when we are delighted to have the opportunity to present, visiting us from Mumbai, Menka Shivdasani, and hot on the heels of his first full collection, Matthew Stewart.

26th September 2017 - Menka Shivdasani and Matthew Stewart

Menka Shivdasani a Mumbai-based writer, has three collections of poetry – the critically acclaimed Nirvana at Ten Rupees, Stet, and Safe House. She is co-translator of Freedom and Fissures, an anthology of Sindhi Partition poetry, published by Sahitya Akademi in 1998 and editor of If the Roof Leaks, Let it Leak, an anthology of women's writing, for Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women (SPARROW). She has edited two online anthologies of contemporary Indian poetry for www.bigbridge.org, a 20-year-old American e-zine.

'A sardonic spiky edge has always graced the work of Menka Shivdasani... In Stet, she has honed and fine-tuned her claws to draw blood.'  Manohar Shetty

Menka's poems have appeared in several publications, both in India and elsewhere. These include Poetry Review (London), Poetry Wales, Fulcrum (USA), Seminary Ridge Review (Gettysburg), the Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, 60 Indian Poets (Penguin Books India), and the Harper Collins Book of English Poetry. In 1986, she played a key role in setting up the Poetry Circle in Mumbai.

Matthew Stewart lives between West Sussex and Extremadura. Following a comprehensive education he took a degree in Modern Languages at St Peter’s College, Oxford. He works in the Spanish wine trade and has published two pamphlets with HappenStance Press: Inventing Truth (2011) and Tasting Notes (2012).

'Matthew is a poet of consolidation, truth and freshness with a masterful sense of economy. His poems matter and have the rare quality of resonating a long way beyond their modest physical limits.'  Rory Waterman

His first full collection, The Knives of Villalejo, is just out from Eyewear. He runs poetry blog Rogue Strands and has been published in Ambit, London Magazine and The Rialto.


In the monastery to which I do not belong,
high in the clouds where Buddha smiles,
a strange ferocious statue looks down on me
as the joss sticks lose themselves.
A shaven monk, going out of his mind,
slings a careless arm around me.
And I wonder what it's like 
to make love to a monk,
wonder what it's like to make love to you

again. And you, once the god who did not belong
to me, have come back like a prayer wheel,
and slowly the thudding begins, drumming out
from the heart into the monastery of my mind.

Tourist voices bulldoze through stone,
high on the monastery where clouds converse.
before silences spread like joss stick ash,
leaving their fragrance behind.
Were you the Buddha I used to know?
Why, then, did you teach discontent?
The eight-fold path we walked together
was so full of thorns and sediment.

Where are you now as the aliens pass;
are you gently rotating away?
Will you come back to this monastery,
teach me how to pray?

Menka Shivdasani


Among the criss-crossing shoppers,
I spot you: the curve of your jaw,
slope of your shoulders in a queue
or slow stoop to a shelf at Boots.

My steps stall, the back of my neck
sparks, a smile about to break out.
The angle opens. A stranger
glances through me.

Matthew Stewart

Event Information and Venue

We continue at our new home of CB2 for Autumn 2017-Summer 2018. Events will be on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 8pm. Doors open from 7.30pm; ask for the sign-up sheet to secure one of our strictly-2-minute open mic slots. (N.B. it's first-come-first-served, though slots may well still be available at 8pm). All events are £5 / £4 concessions, payment by cash on entry. The venue is the lovely CB2 Bistro Café on Norfolk Street, which has a great bar/café where you can get all manner of drinks, cakes and savoury delights with a discount on meals for CB1 Poetrygoers. 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...