READING POETRY IN LONDON: Last night I went to the Poetry Cafe in London (pictured)and met up with poet Agnes Meadows and blogging friend Annie of the brilliant Going Underground. So lovely to see them both again. It was the regular Tuesday open mic, but host Niall allowed us to get up and tout the big reading tomorrow night at Borders and to do a short reading. The room was packed and the reaction to my work was overwhelming. I had only brought five or six copies of Slow To Burn with me to the cafe, but they were snapped up instantly. Very gratifying that the work translates across the pond. The Poetry Cafe is legendary for all its readings and open mic events and Niall's Poetry Unplugged is boisterous. You never know who is going to be at the microphone and what will come out of their mouth.

For example, a crazy old woman in a fright wig trying to sing and then pissing everyone off the rest of the evening by continually interrupting. Another young girl got up to do a poem about coffee and tea and poured a cup all over herself and the floor at the climax of the poem. Niall looked like he was about blow a gasket. One poet, who called himself Captain Zip, read an ode to a dominatrix. The mix of people and styles reminded me of Java Monkey in Atlanta, but the characters up at the mic are far more eccentric. One of the joys of the London poetry scene.

Before the Poetry Cafe reading, I had caught the train out to visit a friend and fellow poet and novelist who lives near Greenwich. He has a lovely home and we spent several hours talking about everything from publishing to politics. I'm bringing one of his manuscripts back to America to show it to a publisher. It was a brilliant afternoon.

Speaking of trains, the train system in London is amazing. I love being able to get on these trains and go anywhere in the country cheap. Sure, they have their problems and breakdowns like any other public transport, but it's so head and shoulders above anything we have in America that you can't help at marvel at the convenience. The Eurostar service is moving to Saint Pancras station and I went by last night just to take a look. It's a stunning building. Wish I could be hear next week when the first trains pull out for Paris. Sigh. Earlier in the evening, PM Gordon Brown passed right in front of my cab on his way to the dedication ceremony for the station, so I got a good look at him. Yesterday, was also the opening of Parliament, so the city was buzzing. I love it.

The next blog will probably be Friday when I get home. Oh, and a shout out to poet and regular reader Rupert who's over in Dublin right now.


I love the creative insanity!

Re: public transport. I felt the same when I lived in Japan.
Anonymous said…
I would have loved to see that girl pouring tea all over herself.

Lisa Allender said…
Collin, Your trip sounds pretty amazing so far!
I keep picturing a girl actually pouring TEA ON HERSELF--egad! it's so completely outrageous, and yet, there's something almost SUBLIME about it happening in an Open Mic setting! I mean, here in the U.S., you only have women soaking themselves in uh, ahem, "wet-t-shirt/lingerie" type contests, etc....
DeadMule said…
Hi Collin, It sounds like you're having a wonderful time. Best, Helen
Pris said…
Collin, your description was so vivid it almost felt as if I was there. Public transportation that works that smoothly would be such a dream. In the Greater West Palm, if you tried to go 15 minutes away by bus, you'd have to walk a mile, make three transfers, walk between them, and arrive 2 hours later:-)
michi said…
collin, teehee, that's too funny about trains, because the british system has sort of become the joke of europe, because nothing ever works there - they have so many different companies serving different parts of the country and they don't care what all the others do, so connections can be a nightmare. i don't think any train i have been on since privatisation was actually on time. nightmare trip once from london to nottingham, which took about 5 hours. and trust me, it should not. :) also, i don't think anything in the uk is cheap these days, esp not public transport. but i guess compared to the states, the uk / the london area is public transport heaven!

enjoy the rest of your stay, and have a safe trip back.

and thanks for the note on my blog. :) if you'd rather have a signed copy, let me know.

Radish King said…
I bet they love your voice there. You have a really great voice.
Collin said…
Thanks for all the comments, guys, esp. you Radish King. Big smoochies.

Michi, yes, I know the UK train system isn't perfect, but to us Americans it is transport heaven! :)

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