A Place of Beauty – The Poetry Cafe, Covent Garden
Enjoy a cultured coffee at the Poetry Society’s London haunt.
Language is over-bearing: wasted hesitations intersect endless snippets of conversations in the form of tiddled ‘likes’, ‘erms’ and ‘ums’ flashing between passengers on public transport, in cafes, on the street… How something so consistently present in our day to day lives can be so ignored through repetition and necessity is a tortured musing often thrust upon linguists and creatives alike. Perhaps it is not the domain of us mere mortals to ponder such things- perhaps we should return to filling out our tax forms and electricity bills and leave the stirring of syntax to the Poets. Luckily, many of these mystical and bizarre creatures may be found at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden, so we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief and leave the language to the professionals.
The Poetry Café sits quietly nestled between ivy-covered pubs in an innocuous backstreet away from the hustle of tourists in the main shopping districts. Easily passed by without much notice, closer inspection reveals one of the more important stops in the London poetry circuit under the guise of an incredibly pleasant and airy café. Upstairs, you can pick from the simple yet delightful menu of vegetarian soups and stews or nibble at a flapjack. A large selection of board games (the house favourite is Scrabble) creates a sociable and creative atmosphere in which to while away an afternoon. The Café comes into its own in the evening and there is a notable mood change to a more contemplative zone. Every night there is a reading or event hosted in the downstairs theatre space ranging from open mic nights to competitions and book launches, with the occasional art exhibition thrown in for good measure. Everyone is welcome to drop in and join the small audience without any prior booking. Be you a professional poet or casual wordsmith, a mere drop in to confirm a place on the open mic night line up a day before the evening is all it takes to secure yourself a place in the pantheon of performers.
There is something truly special about the Poetry café; where literati and contemporary beatniks gather to discuss rhythm, timing and the pros and cons of rhyming. A good mixture of ingenious political activists and good old-fashioned pallid romantics make for excellent company and some breath-taking performances. Of course, the obligatory glass of wine at the end of the readings provides a superb platform for conversations both of the small talk and metaphysical variety.