Torriano Meeting House

Torriano Meeting House outside

Poetry Art Politics Community 

Torriano Meeting House  is a user-funded grass-roots volunteer-run arts and community organisation in Kentish Town. We are best known for our poetry events but we have many other long running strands including storytelling for adults, writing and storytelling workshops, hosting local political campaigning groups, theatrical events, left wing folk club, and we very much support grass-roots creativity and social change.  

Torriano is a space for you to organise events and projects.

“What is the purpose of resisting corporate globalization if not to protect the obscure, the ineffable, the unmarketable, the unmanageable, the local, the poetic and the eccentric? So they need to be practiced, celebrated and studied too, right now.” – Rebecca Solnit

Autumn poetry at Torriano starts this Sunday

gavin_ewartWith Chrys Salt and Pete Brown. 4 September 7.30. £5/£4 according to pocket.

New workshops at Torriano

lisakelly-e1412207262834-213x282Poetry workshops led by regular Torriano host and Hearing Eye poet Lisa Kelly. Saturdays 1-5pm. September 24th; October 15th; November 19th. £19 /£15 per day. Book with Lisa by email: lisakellyuk[at]yahoo[dot]com

‘From Page to Stage Poets’ led by Lisa Kelly. A unique opportunity for up to six poets to develop a set of poems for performance on 11 December at the Torriano Meeting House at 7.30pm. Over five workshop sessions you will develop your poems and performance techniques leading up to your Sunday night reading at the Torriano.  Tuesdays 11.30am – 2.30pm. November 8th; November 15th; November 22nd; November 29th; December 6th. £95. Book with Lisa by email: lisakellyuk[at]yahoo[dot]com

Torriano Poetry Sunday 24 July

sunday reading late 1980s

A Sunday reading in the late 1980s

24th ­ July – Jeremy Kingston, John Foreman, music from Simon Prager and Doc Stenson, hosted by Hylda Syms. 7.30pm. £5/£4 according to pocket.

Torriano Poetry this Sunday

sunday reading late 1980s

A Sunday reading 

19 June 7.30pm. £5/£4 according to pocket. Camden Mews Translators: Ruth Ingram and Graham Mummery

A Wave of Dreams by Louis Aragon

Tuesday 28 June 7.30. A Wave of Dreams by Louis Aragon with spoken word from Alex Walker and music from Tymon Dogg and Alex Thomas. Special guest performance by Parisian chanteur Thomas Baigneres. Pay what you can.


Saturn to Saturn

You are invited to

Saturn to Saturn

New classes at Torriano

T’ai Chi

From Tuesday 31 May, weekly, 10-11am. £5. Led by Neil Rogers. More info 020 7609 2758

L0036007 Daoyin tu - chart for leading and guiding people in exercise

Credit: Wellcome Library, London.

Almost Nonstop until Saturday night

In two hours the New Factory of the Eccentric Actor begins the epic 24 hour play The Non Stop Connolly Show by Margaretta D’Arcy and John Arden. The life of James Connolly enacted at Torriano Meeting House from 10am to 10pm this Friday and Saturday. Drop in and out at any time. Refreshments throughout. Free. Donations in the hat.


Winners of the Torriano Competition 2015/16

Many thanks to all who entered the Torriano Poetry Competition. There will be a reading by the winners on 24 April.

Judged by Ann Drysdale

1st Ian McEwen (Bedford) Rooks in the Wind
2nd Gill Learner (Reading) In Consideration of Sticks
3rd M. Lee Alexander (USA). Local Hussy at the Kilkenny Village Fete, 1722

Commended (in no particular order)

M. Lee Alexander (USA). Sestina of Turku in Winter
Anne Stewart (Kent) My Shoes Leave Me
Dilys Wood (W. Sussex) Mild Weather
Bill Lythgoe (Lancs) The House that Jack Built
Emma Cousin A Mouse lives in our Broken Oven
Pat Borthwick (York) Murphies
Susan McLean (USA) Burning the Journals


Rooks in the wind

Like a crescendo,
the small wood on the hill,
bare still, clear as twigs, a graph

of the great breath
it grows through.
But here already

rooks stick broken bits
into its axils, a raucous
puberty of nests.

Over and between
their bouts of cranky purpose
off they launch


and whammel,
jink, slide, flaunt
and fool
trick the sky with letters:

mucking about,
something nobody gets paid for.

I said I wouldn’t write another
fucking bird poem but if
the irresistible for some is God
or Death or Mum
or Dad today it’s
tumble and caw,

the rooks that make
what loudnesses they can,
small clappers
ringing in a bell of air.

Ian McEwen

In Consideration of Sticks

Mine’s hazel, sacrum height. An extra leg
on hard-packed snow, over ditches,
stepping stones; it whacks at brambles,
brakes descent, draws maps in sand.

It was Nana’s years ago, a baton for
conducting hens before the fall which fixed her
in a Ward 3 bed, zig-zag, pillow under knees,
reading fly-spot constellations.

Then Connie’s in a nursing home,
blazoned against ‘borrowing’ with scarlet tape,
holding firm while Parkinson-reluctant feet
were chivvied: ‘left-right, left-right’.

Once I coveted a cane of micocoulier, spalted
gold-brown, toughened by Pyrennéan winds,
drawn tall by the sun of Roussillon,
shelter for scops owls and golden orioles.

But this – varnish scuffed, its tiny eyes
and cracks familiar, the handle buffed
with half a century of weight, curving
to my palm – this stick will see me out.

Gill Learner


Local Hussy at the Kilkenny Village Fete, 1722

Let the fifers fife and the pipers play,
to the madrigals’ songs we’ll sail away

with mandolin and lute and lyre:
Sweet William, the lady, the rose and the briar

penny whistle serenades, silver and strong
dulcimer entices us, so won’t you come along

cry well-a-way and well-a-day!
sing Blackberry Blossom and Far Away

flutes weave a melody sweet and low
harmonies from his fingers flow…

I’ll dance along the riverbank with ribbons in my hair,
paradiddle on the drum and catch me if you dare:

so laugh and reel and rosin your bow
and show me all the tricks you know –

notes mixing memory and desire
and fiddle my love til the strings catch fire!

  M. Lee Alexander


Torriano Poetry this Sunday: Amir Darwish

Amir Darwish is a British/Syrian poet of Kurdish origin. He was born in Aleppo in 1979 and came to the UK as an asylum seeker during the Second Gulf War. His poetry has been published in the USA, Pakistan, Finland, Morocco and Mexico and in the anthology Break-Out. He lives in Middlesbrough.

He will be reading from Don’t Forget the Couscous, a book of poetry about exile and home, love and loss. It is a beautiful love-song to the Arab world – Syria, Kurdistan, Morocco, Palestine and his native Aleppo. It is a memoir of the failed Arab Spring and the civil-war that has turned his native Syria into a ‘fountain of blood’. It’s a bitter account of the demonization of Islam in the West, and the violent interference of the West in the Islamic world. It is about being a Muslim and not a terrorist.
Amir Darwish draws on the magical-realism of Naguib Mahfouz, the social satire of Muhammad al-Maghut and the love poetry of Rumi to describe the experience of Islam in Europe – from ‘a Friday night doner kebab after a good night out’ to a ‘girl who has taken off the hijab in order to feel safe’ and ‘a mosque with broken windows’. It is a book about travel and love, and an apology on behalf of Muslims everywhere for having contributed nothing to the modern world except astronomy, coffee, clocks, algebra, falafels, apricots and doner kebabs. And don’t forget the couscous…

Sunday 13 March, 7.30pm, £5/£4 according to pocket. Readers from the floor welcome.

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