Sunday, 15 July 2018

Awayday 2018

Another successful Awayday writing retreat at Dumbleton Hall was held in May.  Writing exercises, centred around the topics of food and ekphrastic poetry, resulted in a number of very good first drafts.

We have already booked our Awayday at Dumbleton Hall for 2019.  It will be on Wednesday 22 May.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Cheltenham Poetry Society's Programme for 2018  

Revised 15 July 2018

PH - Parmoor House, 13 Lypiatt Terrace, Cheltenham

Poetry Writing Group at Parmoor House (PH), Rosalind Room

7pm - 10pm on the last Tuesday of every month, except in December when the group meets on the second Tuesday of the month.
Membership of the Writing Group is by invitation and ensures everyone receives a full discussion on at least one of their poems.  Please note that we have a full quota of members for the Writing Group at present, so there continue to be no vacancies.

Dates of meetings, 2018 (7pm - 10pm)
30 Jan, 27 Feb, 27 Mar, 24 Apr,
29 May, 26 June, 31 July, 28 Aug, 25 Sept, 30 Oct, 27 Nov, 11 Dec

The Annual General Meeting, which all subscribing members of the Society are welcome to attend, will be on 27 November, followed by a shortened Writing Group meeting. 

Poetry Reading Group 

7pm - 10pm on the third Tuesday of every month.  Reading Group meetings in 2018 have alternated between studying a collection by a contemporary poet, and considering poems on specified topics.  As of June, the Reading Group is on hiatus for the summer and will resume in a new form in September.

Dates and topics for meetings, 2018 (7pm - 10pm)

16 January Ecopoetry: poetry reflecting ecological/environmental concerns and climate change. Recommended preparation: s/keep-it-in-the-ground-a-poem-a-day20 Feb 

20 February: Martyn Crucefix’s collection, The Lovely Disciplines. Studying this collection will be useful preparation if you are planning to go to this poet’s reading at the Poetry Festival in April.

2 March – Migration. This could include poems by Sarah Howe, Ruth Padel, Kei Miller, Imtiaz Darkar, Daljit Nagra, Patience Agbabi, Rishi Dastidar, George Szirtes, Lemn Sissay, Warsan Shire (for example).

17 April – Jacob Polley’s collection, Jackself.
Studying this collection will be useful preparation if you are planning to go to this poet’s reading at the Poetry Festival in April.

15 May – Identity; freedom of expression in whatever guise that takes, eg ethnicity, gender.


7pm - 10pm on the firstTuesday of February, April, June.  
Workshops will resume in September in a new form.  They will continue to be suitable for all levels of experience. Beginners will, as always, be welcome.  

Awayday Writing Retreat

The Society’s annual writing retreat Awaydaywas on Thursday 24 May at Dumbleton Hall. Please contact the Society for information about 2019's away day which will be on 22 May.

Performance Opportunities

Local open mic readings and performance opportunities occur throughout the year
in which Society members are encouraged to participate. 

Note that although not part of the CPS programme, our Chair and Treasurer co-run Poetry Café Refreshed at Smokey Joe’s, Bennington St, which offers open mic opportunities plus the chance to hear a guest poet, on the third Wednesday of each month (Jan – Nov), and the second Wednesday of the month in December.  £5 on the night.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Cheltenham 300 Anthology

We are so proud of our Cheltenham 300 anthology!  We published this 70 page volume of poems in November, coinciding with celebrations of Cheltenham's tercentenary as a spa town.  Fourteen of our poets have two poems each in the book ... each accompanied by photographs taken in and around Cheltenham.

We are indebted to Suffolk Anthology Bookshop which has stocked and sold the book ... sales going so well that in February we have ordered a second print run, anticipating further demand during 2017.
Books cost £5.95 from the bookshop, or from, adding £1.50 p&p.  A good price for 28 poems by 14 poets and approaching 40 photographs!

Poems contributing are:  Sharon Larkin, Roger Turner, Michael Newman, David Ashbee, Stuart Nunn, Robin Gilbert, Sheila Spence, Judi Marsh, Michael Skaife d'Ingerthorpe, Alice Ross, Belinda Rimmer, Annie Ellis, Marilyn Timms, Howard Timms

What else do we do apart from read and write poetry?

Performance opportunities!

Opportunities for readings/performances arise throughout the year, including festivals.  A reading from
the Cheltenham 300 anthology is scheduled for Saturday 6 May during Cheltenham Poetry Festival , 4 – 14 May, which will also offer open mic opportunities at other events.

Separately from the Society’s programme, regular opportunities for performance exist at Poetry Café - Refreshed, at Smokey Joe’s, 15 Bennington St commencing at 7pm usually on the third Wednesday of the month - except in March (when it will be on 22nd) and December (when it will be on 13th).  A guest poet is invited to Poetry Café - Refreshed, and there are Open mic slots for anyone wishing to read/perform. 

Other Events!

The Annual Lecture will be given by David Clarke on Wednesday 29 March in the Pittville Room at Cheltenham Municipal Offices, Promenade, on the subject The Landscapes of Post-War German Poetry.

The Society’s annual writing retreat Awayday is on Wednesday 24 May where we troop off to a lovely countryside location for the day, to write, eat, drink ... and wander the grounds of the venue!      

A social evening for members/friends/family of the Society will be held on possibly 21 July (date/venue to be confirmed).

The Annual General Meeting, which all subscribing members of the Society are welcome to attend, will be on 28 November, followed by a shortened Writing Group meeting.

More events are likely to be added as the opportunities arise!

Poets Alive! Read more poetry!

Cheltenham Poetry Society's Reading Group meets 7pm - 10pm on the third Tuesday of each month, except December (when there isn't a meeting).  

Meetings alternate monthly between:

a) published poems (not our own) on the topics listed below and 

b) poems by a specific poet (as listed for the dates asterisked below).  

Please bring about 8 copies of 2 – 3 poems on the topic or by the famous poet.

On the asterisked dates (designated Poets Alive!attendees are also invited (if they wish - no obligation) to bring one or two of their own poems. These could either relate in some way to the poems by the well-known poet - by subject, theme or style - or provide an
interesting contrast with the famous poet’s work.

Everyone is welcome to attend these meetings - at the bargain price of just £3, to include refreshments!

Reading Group Meetings are scheduled for these dates in 2017:

17 Jan*    Poets Alive! - poems by W H Auden and you!

21 Feb     Poets with names L - Q

21 Mar*  Poets Alive! – poems by T S Eliot and you!

18 Apr     Poems about town, city, urban life

16 May*  Poets Alive! - poems by Gillian Clarke and you!

20 June   1st person poems (persona or poet)

18 July*   Poets Alive! - poems by D H Lawrence and you!

15  Aug    Poems about travel

19 Sept*  Poets Alive! - poems by Billy Collins and you!

17   Oct     Poems in English from poets who aren't    

21  Nov*  Poets Alive! - poems by W B Yeats and you!  

2017 - Kickstarted!

The Cheltenham Poetry Society Programme for 2017 was underway by Tuesday 3 January with a brand new series of Kickstart Poetry Writing Workshops, suitable for all levels, of experience.  We are following the book of writing prompts by Jo Bell, designed to encourage poets to write a poem a week: 52 Write a Poem a Week. Start Now. Keep Going - by Jo Bell, published by Nine Arches Press.  

Our second workshop in the series was on 7 February, and these will continue on the first Tuesday of every month throughout the year, 7pm - 10pm at Parmoor House:

7 Mar, 4 Apr, 2 May, 6 June, 4 July, 1 Aug, 5 Sept, 3 Oct, 7 Nov, 5 Dec

Workshops are supplemented by an active - but 'private' Facebook Group where poets attending workshops can post poems for feedback from other attendees.  Hence they will give and receive feedback on the poetry prompts occurring weekly between monthly workshops.  Join us at workshops and you too can join the Facebook group if you would like to.  But there is no obligation ... and no pressure to write 52 poems in a year!  For those that want to, there is support.  For others who might want simply to come along to the workshop once a month and write a poem there, that is another option ... or anything in between!

Early feedback suggests that fellow Kickstarters agree that the workshop and supplementary information posted in our own Facebook group is helpful.  Here are some photos - and some of their comments:

“Thanks for this wonderfully detailed information … and for hosting us yesterday. I really enjoyed it and enjoyed hearing some wonderful poetry.” “Really enjoyed the workshop last night. A good kickstart to the new year. Very helpful info thank you … No excuses but to get started now”.“Have already put down ideas for three of the poems. Couldn’t stop poetry thinking last night.”
“I enjoyed it, thank you … lots of interesting ideas.”
“It was fab and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
“Thanks for a great session … Your group has a good mix of people, poetry and styles. I really feel that I can gain from the structure of it.”
“Fab time this evening at CPS Kickstart poetry workshop based on Jo Bell’s 52 … Good to have a structure to work with.”
“I very much enjoyed the session … and look forward to more in the coming months and working on the prompts in the book.”
"Very well done ... pace, tone and level just right ... generating plenty of enthusiasm."

Monday, 4 January 2016

Yes, we have history. But this is now!

Back then ...

Cheltenham Poetry Society has just celebrated 160 years of history, reputed to have been founded in 1855 by Alfred Lord Tennyson who used to stay in St James's Square when he came to Cheltenham ... at a house which is now the presbytery of St.Gregory's Church. 

Among early visitors to the Society was Robert Browning. The Society flourished in the nineteenth century, but this was interrupted by the First World War. It was relaunched in 1925, but war again intervened in 1939.  

A fresh start in January 1967 by Wilfrid Appleby nevertheless provided continuity since, when young, he had met Tennyson. Appleby remained Chairman until 1976. Among those who attended the present Society in its early years were Cecil Day Lewis, Laurie Lee and Leonard Clark. Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis was President in 1971, followed by Poet Laureate John Betjeman until 1984. Stephen Pettit then became President, until his death in 2002.  For more on our history, go here:  History of the Society

... but now!  Our programme for 2016

Poetry Workshops                         

Of course, we look back on this proud heritage, but we are intent on pressing forward with our modernising agenda! Over the last four or five years we have sought to encourage new and developing poets, and our workshops will continue to help members become effective critics of their own work.  Workshops will be held on: 

2nd February
5th April
7th June
5th July
6th  September
1st November

Poets – Dead or Alive

Alternating with workshops, we are about to launch a new series entitled "Poets Dead or Alive" where we will be inviting people to read a poem or two by a well-known poet, and a poem of their own, which might be connected thematically or formally ... or present a contrast. This new event thus combines an opportunity to perform our own work, coupled with research into the work of one of the "greats" selected for this year:

1st March       Tea with Edward Thomas   
 3rd May         Down the Sylvia Plath        
2nd August       Larkin with Philip.
4th October      Views on Ted Hughes

Poetry Reading Group

Our well-established Poetry Reading Group will continue on the third Tuesday of every month. We will be working through the anthology Lifesaving Poems, ed A Wilson,  published by Bloodaxe books. These meetings will alternate with members'  choice of poems on the topics below. Please bring approximately 3 - 4 poems on the topic. 

Dates of Reading Group meetings
19th January          Anthology
16th  February       Poets with names E to J
15th  March           Anthology
19th  April             Poems about the natural world
24th May               Anthology
21st June              Poems about historical events
19th  July              Anthology
16th  August         Poems about specific locations
20th  September   Anthology
18th   October        Poems with interesting forms
15th  November    Anthology  

Poetry Writing Group

We also continue our well-established monthly Poetry Writing Group for experienced poets (membership by invitation)

Performance opportunities 
Outside the Society’s programme, regular opportunities for performance exist at Poetry Café Refreshed, hosted by Roger Turner, at Smokey Joes American diner, on the second Wednesday of the month (except May when it will be Wednesday18th May). A guest poet is invited to these events, and there are Open Mic slots for anyone wishing to read/perform.  The guest poet for 13 January is David Clarke whose collection Arc was published last year by Nine Arches Press.  We are very much looking forward to hearing him.

Other Events

Crossing Counties - three poets from the Society join forces with Evesham-based poets for a reading in Pershore Library on the afternoon of 29 January.  There will be a "reciprocal visit" at Poetry Café - Refreshed on 10 February when the three Evesham-based poets - Sue Johnson, Bob Woodroofe and Joy Thomas will be the guest poets for the night.

The Society's Annual Lecture will be in March - further details to follow.

The annual retreat (Awayday) will be held on 19 May, offering a concentrated time of writing and getting to know each other better, at the magnificent Dumbleton Hall on the Glos/Worcs border.

A social evening for members and friends of the Society and their partners
will be held in July.

The Annual General Meeting will be on Tuesday 29th November 2016.

Annual Awayday 2014

So join us!

We welcome new members to Workshops, Reading Group Meetings, Poets - Dead or Alive ... and everyone is warmly invited to Poetry Café - Refreshed.  
There's plenty going on in Cheltenham Poetry Society - and more events are likely to be added to the programme as we go through the year. 

Keep checking this blog, our Facebook Group, and our Twitter for the latest news!

And keep poeting!