Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Poetry in the Crypt

Poetry in the Crypt is an occasional reading series which takes place in the crypt below St Mary's church on Upper Street, Islington. (A short history of Poetry in the Crypt can be found here).

Next event: Saturday April 13th 2019..... Starting time 7 pm
John Clegg, Sasha Dugdale & Geraldine Paine

There will also be floor spots (sign-up on arrival - numbers may be limited) and free coffee, tea & cakes at the interval.

Admission £5 - all proceeds go to the charity Hospice Care Kenya

For more information contact nmattson@sampo.plus.com

Poetry in the Crypt has its origins in a series of informal poetry reading evenings arranged by Graham Claydon, vicar of St Mary’s
church in Islington.   Nancy Mattson and Mike Bartholomew-Biggs took over the running of these events when Graham moved
on to another church.   

Mike and Nancy introduced the idea of inviting one or two guest poets to complement the contributions from church members.
At the same time – and with the support of the new vicar, Graham Kings – they began charging a small entry fee to help raise funds
for “Mary’s”, a project run by Tom & Barbara Quantrill to offer meals and support for the homeless.   In return, Tom and Barbara took on responsibility for providing refreshments at Poetry in the Crypt readings – and thus began the famous “free coffee & cakes” tradition which continues to the present day. 

The Mary’s project came to an end in 2006 when St Mary’s crypt was closed for extensively redevelopment.  This meant that, for a couple of years, Poetry in the Crypt became Poetry “in” the Crypt  and took place in the Neighbourhood Centre next door to the church.  At the same time, Tom and Barbara decided, reluctantly, to withdraw from refreshment duty.  In their place, Mike and Nancy were able to recruit a team of “poetry elves” who take it in turns to help with creating a welcoming poetry cafe and bookstall. 

With the closure of the Mary’s project, Poetry in the Crypt switched to providing support for two members of St Mary’s congregation, Paul & Claire Furbey, who went to work with HIV-affected women and children in a refuge at  Purnata Bhavan in India.  Money from Poetry in the Crypt was earmarked for a fund which enabled Paul and Claire to provide birthday treats and outings for the children in their care. 

In 2009 Paul and Claire’s work at Purnata Bhavan came to an end; and Poetry in the Crypt  (by now back in the crypt again) began supporting Hospice Care Kenya  (with whom St Mary’s  has a connection through congregation members Liz Salmon & Sally Hull).

Thanks to the ongoing support of the St Mary’s leadership and the current vicar Simon Harvey, Poetry in the Crypt has now been running for more than ten years – as can be seen from the list below which shows all the events since 1998.  There are usually four or five events a year, mostly taking place in spring and autumn.  The present format of a Poetry in the Crypt evening involves three guest readers, who each have about 25 minutes of reading time (In two slots either side of the interval), together with some (very good) readers from the floor.  Audience size varies of course – for instance when an Arsenal home fixture disrupts local transport – but is usually between thirty and fifty people.  The audiences are always very attentive, appreciative and willing to buy books.  This last is important because guest poets agree to forego a reading fee and it is good to see them go home with some material reward as well as applause ringing in their ears.

Poetry in the Crypt at St Mary Islington since 1998

1998 November                    Christmas/Advent theme - no advertised readers

1999 November                   Graham Claydon (at Camden Head pub)

2000 November                   Christmas/Advent theme – no advertised readers

2001 May                            Ascension/Pentecost/Spring theme – no advertised readers
2001 November                  Graham Kings, Peter Daniels, actor Tom Mannion (reading Shakespeare &
          Edwin Morgan), Rhona McAdam

2002 February                      Actor Janet Henfrey reading Elizabeth Jennings
2002 June                             Carol Hughes, Nell Keddie, Philip Wells (The Fire Poet)
2002 October                       Sarah Lawson, Godfrey Rust, Caroline Wright
2002 November                   Micheal O’Siadhail (from Dublin)

2003 May                             Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, Cahal Dallat, Jehane Markham
2003 November                    Homegrown theme – no advertised readers

2004 May                        Shoestring publisher John Lucas introduces Ann Atkinson,   Michael Bartholomew-Biggs,
  Malcom Carson, George Parfitt & Deborah Tyler-Bennett for Take Five 04
2004 July                              Mario Petrucci
2004 October                       Martyn Crucefix
2004 November                   Donald Atkinson (from Hebden Bridge), Sue Hubbard

2005 March                         Stephen Watts, Tamar Yoseloff 
2005 June                            Perse Peett, Jo Roach 
2005 October                      David Loffman, Micheal O’Siadhail (from Dublin)

2006 February                      Leah Fritz, Angela Kirby
2006 March                         Anne-Marie Fyfe, Paul McLoughlin
2006 June                            John Weston, Carol Hughes
2006 November                  Nancy Mattson, Rhona McAdam (from Canada)
2006 December                   Shoestring publisher John Lucas introduces Nancy Mattson, Ruth O’Callaghan
      and Rosemary Norman for Take Five 06

2007 March                           Peter Bennet (from Northumberland) & Chris Beckett
2007 May                              Martha Kapos & Kathryn Maris
2007 November                    Myra Schneider, Jacqueline Gabbitas, Katherine Gallagher, Valerie Josephs & Sue Rose
     from Images of Women

2008 May                              AndrĂ© Mangeot & Robert Vas Dias
2008 June                              Mimi Khalvati & Alice Major (from Canada)
2008 October                        Siobhan Campbell & Robert Seatter
2008 November                    Mike Bartholomew-Biggs, Graham Kings, Hugh Underhill

2009 January                         Brian Docherty, Anna Robinson, Hylda Sims
2009 March                           Shanta Acharya, Maggie Butt, Danielle Hope
2009 May                              Judi Benson, Todd Swift, David Perman
2009 September                    Anne Berkeley, Cahal Dallat, Siriol Troup
2009 October                        Claire Crowther, Wendy French, Maurice Riordan

2010 February                       Linda Black, Andy Croft, Deborah Tyler-Bennett
2010 March                           Joanna Boulter, Phil Kirby, Katrina Naomi
2010 April                             Alan Brownjohn, Peter Daniels, Mary Michaels
2010 October                        Murray Bodo (from the USA), Sue Rose, Susan Utting
2010 November                    Tim Dooley, Rosemary Norman, Penelope Shuttle

2011 January                         Philip Hancock, Allison McVety, Samantha Wynne-Rydderch
2011 March                           Mike Barlow, John Lucas, Jane Routh
2011 May                              Wendy Klein, Jeremy Page, Anne Stewart
2011 October                        Martin Figura, Helen Ivory, Eve Pearce
2011 November                    Jane Duran, Jane Kirwan, Ales Machacek, Cristina Viti, Stephen Watts

2012 March                           Elizabeth Cook, Glyn Maxwell, Cheryl Moskowitz
2012 May                              Liz Berry, Jenna Butler (from Canada), Nancy Mattson
2012 October                        David Black, Murray Bodo (from the USA), Sheila Hillier
2012 November                    Pat Borthwick, Martina Evans, Norbert Hirschhorn

2013 February                       Peter Daniels, Jacqueline Saphra, Lesley Saunders

2013 March                          Tamar Yoseloff (substituting for Ian Parks) and Robert Stein

2013 April                              Maggie Butt (substituting for Maria Jastrzebska), John Godfrey and Jane Yeh

2013 September                  Sharon Morris & Maitreyabandhu

2013 November                   John Greening, Maria Jastrzebska and Pauline Stainer

2014 March                         Clare Best, Robert Chandler and Jean Sprackland

2014 May                             Rebecca Goss, Hannah Lowe and Alan Murray

2014 October                       Peter Daniels ( presenting Vladislav Khodasevich),
                                    Emily Jeremiah (presenting Eeva-Liisa Manner & Sirkka Turkka) and Paul McLoughlin (presenting Brian Jones)

2014 November                     Yvonne Green, John Harvey and Lorraine Mariner

2015 May ...............................Katie Evans-Bush, Kate Foley & Michael McKimm

2015 October ........................Fiona Moore, Allen Ashley & Roisin Tierney

2015 November ................... Barbara Marsh, Kit Wright & Ian McEwen

2016 March ........................... Derek Adams Alison Hill & Christopher Reid

2016 April ........................... ....Matthew Caley Sarah Doyle & Vishvantara

2017 March ........................... John Freeman, George Szirtes & Ruth Valentine

2017 April ........................... ... Don Atkinson, Lynne Hjelmgard, Kay Syrad

2017 November ...................... Hilary Davies, John Mole, James Norcliffe

2018 March .............................John McCullough, Kate Noakes, Clare Pollard

2018 May .................................Martyn Crucefix, Alwyn Marriage, Will Stone


London Grip http://www.londongrip.co.uk/ is an on-line cultural magazine, originally founded and edited by Patricia Morris in 2007. 

In September 2011 the magazine was re-launched with a new look, under Stephen McGrath as managing editor, and Mike took over the poetry editorship from Robert Vas Dias.

The latest posting of London Grip New Poetry can be seen at http://londongrip.co.uk/category/poetry/.

London Grip also features reviews of recent collections and anthologies at http://londongrip.co.uk/category/poetry-reviews/

Submissions for London Grip New Poetry are most welcome.  Please send up to three poems plus a brief CV to poetry@londongrip,co.uk
Mike is also very happy to receive offers of poetry reviews.


  1. This one is good. keep up the good work!..

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