Over recent months, I’ve been pleased to work with Roger Turner to support Poetry Café – Refreshed at Smokey Joe’s in Cheltenham. Roger hosts this monthly event, set in the wonderful American Diner-themed café in an exciting area of the town which is currently undergoing redevelopment. This will soon be a bustling social quarter of Cheltenham, including the Brewery Complex of cinema, leisure facilities and restaurants. Poetry Café – Refreshed includes an open mic.
It has been a great pleasure to invite poets I’ve come to know through Jo Bell’s wonderful 52 initiative to be guest poets at Refreshed. So far this has included John Alwyine-Mosely (August) and Tom Sastry (September), both from Bristol, and Nina Lewis (October) from Bromsgrove – all wonderful poets. Their readings were very well received and we look forward to welcoming other 52-ers to be guest poets over the coming year
On 11 November Avril Staple from Gloucester will be the guest poet at Refreshed. Many poets in Cheltenham and Gloucester know Avril well from Angela France’s wonderful Buzzwords (7pm first Sunday of the month, Exmoor Arms, Bath Road, Cheltenham). I know Avril’s work first-hand from the Creative and Critical Writing MA we did at the University of Gloucestershire in 2010 – and also from Poetry Factory, a Cheltenham-based group we both belonged to during 2012-13, along with David Clarke, Anna Saunders and others.
I’m looking forward to reconnecting with Avril at Refreshed, and with a great crowd of open mic poets. But first, I hope to meet up with Avril and the regulars at Buzzwords this Sunday, 1 November, when Jonathan Edwards and Mike Jenkins will be running the workshop and reading as guest poets. As an enthusiast for Welsh poetry, I am personally very much looking forward to this.
The open mic at Buzzwords is always first rate. Local poets are indebted to Angela France for her tireless work in support of poetry; Buzzwords is the longest-running poetry performance opportunity in the area, with an impressive “back list” of guest poets. Angela teaches at the University of Gloucestershire and gained her PhD there this year. So it is great news that Angela was recently appointed Cheltenham’s Poet in Residence.
It will be great to reconnect with poetry enthusiasts during November at the many events Cheltenham has to offer.