The idea for a new poetry venue came from a combination of the need to avoid traipsing across London to places like The Poetry Café in Betterton Street, Covent Garden or even to Tavistock Place or Camden to get my poetry ‘fix’ and the offer from a local publican who said that he would love a poetry night at his pub. This fitted in well with the idea to start a poetry club in South London, something sadly lacking south of the river, which I shared with Angela Brodie whom I had met at a poetry class at Morley College.

Beyond Words opened in March this year when we were lucky enough to have Ruth O’Callaghan as our opening poet. In April we chose two local poets to read for us. Peter Ebsworth, himself a much-published poet, is editor of The South Bank Poetry Magazine. He was supported by Hannah Lowe who was selected to read at the Aldeburgh Festival last autumn to represent the new and upcoming voices on the poetry scene. In May, Roddy Lumsden who teaches at The Poetry School and also at Morley was our guest poet and he was supported by Emily Hasler, one of Salt Publishing’s ‘Younger Poets’. On June 5th we welcome Clare Pollard, poet, playwright, and TV and radio scriptwriter. Clare’s most recent book Changeling became a Poetry Book Society recommendation and we hope to hear her read from it. In July we showcase Hannah Lowe with more vibrant tales of family life and no doubt poems from ‘The Hitcher’ recently published by Rialto. We round off the evening with a local group called Little Machine who have adapted poems ancient and modern to be sung accompanied by music and good humour. Their most recent event was to take the stage after Carol Anne Duffy at the Much Wenlock Poetry Festival.

Beyond Words meets every first Tuesday of the month at ?? Gipsy Hill SE 26 and for aspiring poets one of the best things about the venue is that we always run an ‘open-mic’. We are pleased and surprised with the strength of the work from people who turn up on the night with their notebook or scrap of paper and reveal some amazing truth hidden away in a few sentences. It has been a pleasure to hear.

Caroline Vero

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