Happy birthday, Refreshed!

On 10 August 2016, Poetry Café – Refreshed celebrated its first birthday. We were delighted to welcome Patrick Osada, who is on the management board of South magazine, as the guest poet on this special occasion.

Poetry Café – Refreshed, a monthly event, hosted by Roger Turner and organized by Sharon Larkin (yours truly), is held in the unique surroundings of Smokey Joes in Bennington St, Cheltenham – a café with an informal and relaxed atmosphere, an American diner-inspired décor given a British twist … and offering an irresistible menu.

Smokey Joes – a relaxed, informal atmosphere

We’ve been enjoying some superb poetry. Over the past year, we’ve had a succession of exciting guest poets come to read and perform for us:

  • John Alwyine-Mosely – August 2015
  • Tom Sastry – September 2015
  • Nina Lewis – October 2015
  • Avril Staple – November 2015
  • Brenda Reid-Brown – December 2015
  • David Clarke – January 2016
  • Sue Johnson, Bob Woodroofe and Joy Thomas – February 2016
  • Paul Harris – March 2016
  • Matt Duggan – April 2016
  • Rachael Clyne – May 2016
  • Lesley Ingram – June 2016
  • Ben Banyard – July 2016
  • Patrick Osada – August 2016

… and the quality of the poetry from the open mic poets has been high too!


At the ‘anniversary edition’ of Poetry Cafe – Refreshed  on 10 August 2016, at the open mic we had:  David Ashbee, David Clarke, Miki Byrne, Annie Ellis, Jennie Farley, Robin Gilbert, Sharon Larkin, Michael Newman, Stuart Nunn, Belinda Rimmer, Roger Turner, Gill Wyatt.        

We’ve had many more poets join us at the open mic over the past year, including Kathy Gee, Sarah Bryson, Polly Stretton, Judi Marsh, Holly McGill, Anna Saunders, Howard Timms, Marilyn Timms, Kev Alway, Courtney Hulbert, Briony Smith, Chris Hemingway, Aled Thomas, Gill Garrett, Elizabeth Chanter, Michael Skaife d’Ingerthorpe, Samantha Pearse … and on one memorable occasion Dom Joly.

We look forward to the next year of Refreshed.  Guest poets for the next three months are:

  • 21 September 2016 – Deborah Harvey
  • 19 October 2016 – Kathy Gee
  • 16 November – Claire Walker

Please make a note of 16 November and 14 December, the last two Poetry Café – Refreshed events for 2016 … and we already have a number of exciting guest poets lined up for 2017!

We’re most grateful to Vickie Godding and the staff at Smokey Joes for being so welcoming and accommodating towards us. We love your waffles!

And thanks to TL for taking photos at Poetry Café – Refreshed.

Some photographs from our first year:

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John Alwyine-Mosely, guest poet August 2-15

Tom Sastry, guest poet, October 2015
Nina Lewis, guest poet, October 2015
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Christmas Special
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Guest Poet, Brenda-Read Brown, December 2015

David Clarke – guest poet, January 2016

Sue Johnson, guest poet with Bob Woodroofe and Joy Thomas, February 2016 
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Bob Woodroofe, guest poet with Sue Johnson and Joy Thomas, February 2016
Joy Thomas – guest poet with Sue Johnson and Bob Woodroofe, February 2016
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Paul Canon Harris – guest poet for March 2016

Matt Duggan, guest poet, April 2016
Dom Joly (uninvited guest, April 2016)
Rachael Clyne, guest poet, May 2016
Lesley Ingram, guest poet, June 2016
Ben Banyard, guest poet, July 2016
Patrick B Osada, guest poet, August 2016
Deborah Harvey, will be guest poet in September 2016
Roger Turner, host of Poetry Café – Refreshed
Sharon Larkin, organizer, at the open mic

Cheltenham – Part 2 (and other news)

Super write-up of Ben Banyard’s visit – as guest poet – to Poetry Café – Refreshed, Cheltenham in July,

Ben Banyard

As regular readers of this blog will know, and possibly roll their eyes to hear again, being part of Jo Bell’s 52 has brought me an embarrassment of riches. Take my recent reading at Poetry Café Refreshed in Cheltenham, for instance – one of its organisers, Sharon Larkin, was a fellow 52er and I was delighted to accept her invitation to be their guest reader.

The venue is the splendidly quirky Smokey Joe’s in Bennington Street, which is decorated in the style of a 1950s diner, complete with period fixtures and fittings. The performance space is a lovely bright and airy room at the back, which includes a jukebox fashioned from the back end of a vintage Mini and even a selection of old coin-operated arcade games.

The format of the event is very civilised – there’s an open mic section where everyone gets to read a couple of their…

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Refreshed by Poetry

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.