Deborah's poem 'hold me like your iPhone' has been commended in this year's Troubadour International Poetry Prize, which was judged by Victoria Kennefick and Joshua Bennett.
- Victoria Kennefick lives in County Kerry, studied at University College Cork, then at Emory University, & Georgia College & State University as part of a Fulbright Scholarship, co-hosts the Unlaunched Books Podcast & is a Listowel Writers Week committee-member. Her 2021 collection Eat or We Both Starve (Carcanet) was a ‘best poetry book of the year’ in both Telegraph & Irish Times, in addition to being shortlisted for the 2021 TS Eliot Prize.
- Joshua Bennett has read at the White House at the invitation of President Barack Obama, is Professor of English & Creative Writing at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, & author of Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man (Harvard, 2020) & Spoken Word: A Cultural History (forthcoming from Knopf). His poetry collections are The Sobbing School (2016, a National Poetry Series Selection & NAACP Image Award finalist), Owed (2020) & The Study of Human Life (publ. Sep 2022), all from Penguin.
The winners and those commended read their poems on 5th December at an online event, alongside Victoria and Joshua reading some of their own work.
You can read 'hold me like your iPhone' here, along with the rest of the winning and commended poems.
Some history of The Troubadour (where Deborah has previously performed) and the Coffee-House Poetry group below, taken from the Coffee-House Poetry website.
The Troubadour: a writers’ cafe
Founded in 1954 as a writers’ & artists’ cafe, as well as being the place to eat, play backgammon, write poems, edit scripts (Stanley Kubrick had his favourite table in the early ’60s) & generally set the world to rights, Earls Court’s Troubadour Coffee-House (predating the short-lived ’50s Soho coffee-bar craze) soon became the hub of a folk-poetry-jazz-&-r’n‘b revolution. And while acts as varied as Paul Simon, Joan Baez, Eric Clapton, Martin Carthy, the Stones, the Dubliners & Bob Dylan flourished in the cellar-club’s inimitable Bohemian setting, it was poetry that made the cluttered, eccentric & always-lively coffee-house a magnet for London’s writers over the past 58 years.
Revitalised some years ago by new owners, Simon & Susie Thornhill, to include expanded restaurant space, double seating capacity & a stylish bar in the famous “cellar-club”, the Troubadour continues to feature blues, folk, comedy etc throughout the week, with Monday-night poetry sessions as crowded & stimulating as they were in the venue’s ‘sixties heyday, attracting average audiences of 90+ with up to 120 on special nights. Not bad for Monday nights!
Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour
Coffee-House Poetry was created in 1997 by Anne-Marie Fyfe to build on the long-standing tradition of Troubadour poetry readings and remains unique in London, not just for its long-standing popularity, but for the unique “cellar-club” ambience:- cabaret stage (with sound & lights), seating arranged around cafe tables, interval ambience provided by musician (& broadcaster & poet & critic) C.L. Dallat on accordion, mandolin, bandoneon, jazz-piano, sax, latest news & views on poetry happenings, information on courses, magazines & competitions, debates, party events, launches, poetry books & magazines on sale and a general sense of being at the hub of the capital’s literary life.
London’s poetry enthusiasts frequently meet to eat before the readings or stay late afterwards to dissect the latest literary reputations and debate the meaning of life over wild mushroom lasagne and an invigorating house-red. A regular port-of-call for international visitors, recent Coffee-House Poetry sessions have featured in a British Airways video guide to London’s cultural life, in CNN’s arts-in-Europe coverage, on Radio 3’s Nightwaves, on BBC World Service and on Channel 4.