How we Spread The Word about poetry in Addiscombe

By - Tuesday 13th February, 2018

The inside story of Croydon’s exponentially-growing poetry night

It was just over a year ago during a routine cuppa at my local cafe, that I had an idea about how to bring the community together and celebrate the poetic word. I noticed, since I moved here nine years ago, that the arts community in Croydon was quite fragmented. This was very upsetting to me as I have always found that the soul of a place is reflected in how connected the arts community is and how that community is supported.

I knew from my conversations with many people I met that there were plenty of talented individuals here but very few of them knew that the others existed. For the most part, I think this was because there was no physical place centrally located for them to go to where they could meet other like minded people. Of course this was before Matthews Yard.

Rob Adams reads his work at Café Adagio.
Photo author’s own.

Before I moved to Croydon nine years ago I lived at Clapham Junction . If you were an creative person living in that area you knew that you could saunter over to the Battersea Arts Centre and see a play, read a book, relax or just sit and contemplate life. This is where I used to hang out when I wanted to be inspired or write a bit of nonsense on a piece of paper.

Funny enough, it was at the Battersea Arts Centre that I attended my first poetry night in the UK . It was called Apples and Snakes and still exists today. At the time it was quite experimental and raw and I didn’t have much expectation about the writing if I am being honest. One night I bravely showed up, bought a beer and sat down in front of a small stage with a microphone on it and waited. Well it wasn’t long before I was swimming in passionate words by unknown poets and basking in ideas about life and the worlds of those who wrote them. The words carried me away and I felt like I had experienced a little bit of magic. Afterwards, I left exhilarated and feeling quite optimistic about humanity. Why? Well simply because here were a few people who could communicate the human condition in their own way, in their own words and in a few minutes or less. Each different. Each unique. Each relevant. I am sure we all remember a poem that touched us in some way for some reason. Maybe it was at a wedding or maybe somewhere else. Whenever it was, for a few minutes or less the poet somehow encapsulated a moment or feeling in words we, and many others, couldn’t.

I told writer friends to ‘spread the word’, then joked that maybe that’s what we should call it

Consequently, it occurred to me in the summer of 2016 that the way for people to express their struggles or observations about humanity was to create a poetry night right here in Croydon. At the time I didn’t know that any others even existed. All I knew then was that this must be the first step to bringing potential writers, poets, playwrights and culture hungry people together. I didn’t know what to call it and, to be honest with you, I didn’t know even if anyone would attend if I did put something together. It just was sitting in my mind for a while, percolating away and then one day, quite spontaneously while speaking to the proprietor of Café Adagio; Atif Choudhury, I proposed my idea and asked him if I could host it there. To my amazement he was very encouraging and supportive. In retrospect, I don’t know why I was surprised because Atif is probably the most passionate person I know about arts and culture. Both he and his wife are ethically-minded individuals, who desperately want to create an environment that is both nurturing to people and the planet.

So with the seed for the poetry night now planted I decided to contact a few writer friends on Facebook, told them the date and plan and typed ‘spread the word’. I then joking commented to one person “you know, maybe that’s what we should call it ”. The name stuck as has the event. I now run it ever three or four months as to give the writers time to allow ideas to come to them and write new material. I am always amazed by what I hear be it a humorous little rhyme or a profoundly moving account of a moment in someone’s personal existence. ‘Spread The Word’ is about poetry but it is also life’s ups and downs. My ethos is simple, write from the heart, speak your mind and tell a story. Poetry although quite cathartic for the writer also helps those reading or listening because even though we all have our own journeys, we are all connected at the same time. Consequently, I am always looking for new people to join us and, as it’s an open mic session, no one is turned away.

Since it started ‘Spread The Word’ has grown exponentially each time we have run it. The last one, in December, had eleven poets read their creations and about thirty people attend. Our next night is on 2nd March at 6pm at Café Adagio. If you want to share a poem or some prose you have written or just want to listen, please join us. You won’t find a more supportive environment anywhere to connect to people, share your creativity or just take in the spoken word. It absolutely free but you can enjoy some of Adagio’s wonderful cake and hot drinks or if you prefer you can pay a £5.00 corkage fee and bring your own alcohol. Most importantly though bring your own muse and an open mind, you’ll be glad you did.

Steven Kuleshnyk

Steven Kuleshnyk

Steven Kuleshnyk is an international voyager and creative practitioner. He is a director, writer and actor when he is not looking after his three lovely children.

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  • Anne Giles

    My poems are easy, rhyming poems. I had three published.

    • Steven Kuleshnyk

      Hi Anne. if you have had three poems published it sounds like you have a real passion for writing. Why don’t you come by on March 2nd, bring one or two poems and see what we are all about.

      • Anne Giles

        I’ll check my diary.

      • Anne Giles

        What’s the parking like? I have a Blue Badge, so can park on single or double yellow lines for up to three hours..

        • Steven Kuleshnyk

          To be honest, I am not sure Anne. There are a lot of side streets around there tough which I am sure have decent parking. It’s right across the street from the Addiscombe Tram Stop.

          • Anne Giles

            I might ring the cafe up or ask my husband to have a look, as he doesn’t work far from there.