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This report is taken from PN Review 257, Volume 47 Number 3, January - February 2021.

Torriano Redivivus Lisa Kelly
Last night saw this season’s second Bijou Torriano poetry event, aka Tentative Tender Tendrils from the Torriano, shortened to T4, now that Heathrow has mothballed Terminal 4 until 2021 at the earliest.

Mothballed could apply to how many of us feel who are used to attending live poetry events. Little poem-shaped holes have been eaten into the fabric of our lives. Of course, I appreciate the cyber hangouts we’ve colonised in their place and am an active participant at launches of collections and magazines, but I miss live events: the atmosphere, anecdotes and seeing poets from the waist down.

The space I’ve hankered after most has been the Torriano Meeting House in Kentish Town. It has a unique history in the poetry world. In 1982, it was squatted by John Rety, Susan Johns, and their daughter Emily, until, in the 1980s, John was paid a wage to run the Meeting House. John was born in Budapest in 1930 and his life experiences – he saw his grandmother shot in front of him – led him to become a peace-loving anarchist. It wasn’t necessarily the reputation of the poets, but his acerbic and often hilarious hosting that attracted audiences. John had no qualms telling poets their wares were rather shoddy, and what they might do to improve their poetic sensibilities, which often involved buying collections from his Hearing Eye imprint. He had no time for poets interested only in the sound of their own voice and would tut loudly if anyone attempted their version ...

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