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In 2011 Shortlands Poetry Circle celebrated our 100th year! See: Centenary
a few of us:
Shortlands Poetry Circle was established in 1911 by Miss Catherine Punch. Its aim was to promote the study and appreciation of poetry, and it has been going strong and remained true to that aim ever since.
"Edward VII had died the year before. Stainless steel had not been invented. Dylan Thomas had not been born. Stravinsky was yet to compose The Rite of Spring" (Christopher Highton, Past President, 1997).
The group continued to meet regularly through both World Wars and, in 1947, it became the North-West Kent Branch of the English Association and was long affiliated to Bromley Arts Council (now Bromley Arts Trust). The Circle also enjoyed long-standing relationships with both the Poetry Society and the Poetry Library at the Southbank.
Along the way, the Circle has given birth to a Drama Group, alas now disbanded, and, soon after the end of the Second World War, a Writers' Group (ages ranging from twenties to eighties), which has produced four anthologies of poetry (in 1971; for the Circle's Diamond Jubilee in 1981; in 1997 and each passing breeze at the start of the Centenary year).
are the pleasures that to verse belong,
wrote John Keats to his friend George Felton Matthew"
A friendly and informal group, the reading Circle meets regularly for the reading (never our own, but for one annual programmed meeting) and enjoyment of poetry, followed by a general get-together over tea and biscuits. Discussions are lively, the topics are wide-ranging (see programme) and the selection of poets' work varies from the old favourites to the newest and less-well-known, with often surprising and exciting choices, often from the Laureate List or local poet list.
There is a Summer Celebration meeting, where entertainment is provided (ticket sale event), an annual 'Portfolio' reading event run by the Circle's writers, a celebratory Christmas reading, and the group is occasionally involved in collaborative events with other local groups and gives periodic readings at suitable outreach venues (Contact President if you would like to discuss a project).
The programme is set
well in advance so that there is plenty of time to
research the poets or topic of the day and make
your selections. (see Great
places to look for poems)
Meetings are twice a month, on Tuesdays, during the academic year, from 2:30 to 4:30pm, live meetings are back at Ripley Arts Centre from January 2022 [masks and recent Covid test please] and we are trialling having an online presence within the meetings throughout the Spring term.
Please feel free to print the programme Spring 2022 and pass copies to your friends and colleagues.
We also have a mailing list. Please let us know if you would like to receive the new programmes as they are published by joining our mailing list
Date Poem Topic
Spring 2022 (Non-members: enquire to join one or more meetings)
11 Jan Open Choice & Short Talk by Liz Maliphant on Scottish Poetry
25 Jan Poems by Louise Glück and Ruth Fainlight
8 Feb Poems on the topic: Beginnings and Endings
22 Feb Poems by Francis Thompson and Cecil Day-Lewis
8 Mar AGM and 1 short poem
22 Mar Poems by Irish poets
and diary dates for Summer 2022:
Tues: Apr 12 & 26 May 10 & 24 Jun 14 & 28 Jul 12
Membership is by annual subscription, with a reduction for those joining after the Spring term. The rates are currently (w.e.f. AGM, March 20):
(members who expect to attend most meetings)
£ 15 (members who expect to attend intermittently
meetings £ 2.50
donation per visit, including 50p for refreshments
President: Anne Stewart +44(0) 1689 811394 / +44 (0) 7850 537489 e-mail
First, let us know you're coming so we can look out for you! Contact the Membership Secretary. Regular Venue: Ripley Arts Centre, 24 Sundridge Avenue, Bromley, BR1 2PX. Visitors are charged £2 per visit and all attendees pay 50p towards refreshments.
For Ripley Arts Centre, google map has a "get 'there' from 'here' function", for directions by road.
There are a few parking spaces in the grounds for those with walking difficulties (entry from the North part of Sundridge Avenue), and local street-parking (e.g. in the road opposite and in the West part of Sundridge Avenue).
By Rail: The nearest station is Elmstead Woods (on the Orpington line). The walk from there to Ripley Arts Centre is probably at least 15 minutes, along Elmstead Lane and Sundridge Avenue.
Bus: Number 314 (Bromley to Eltham route).
Independent and Second-hand bookshops:
Kirkdale Bookshop, Kirkdale Road, Sydenham;
Beckenham Bookshop, High Street, Beckenham — if they haven't got what you're looking for, they will usually be able to get it for you within 24 hours
Barely Read Books, The Green, Westerham—we've heard this is a very good second-hand bookshop but not whether it has a poetry section (we'd be glad to hear from you if you know)
On the net:
We'd love to know your favourites. If you'd like to contribute, please email the details of your favourite poetry places to the site editor
Ben Jonson and Sir William D'Avenant are considered by some to have been 'unofficial' laureates, but the formal list begins with the appointment of Dryden:
Sound”, edited by Adrian Henri and first published in 1967, is still
the most well-known:
others with Liverpool connections:
We'll add more if we find them!
Wikipedia has a 'Winners for Literature' list here with links to pages about them. Amongst them, these names most may have come across in relation to poetry:
What a year! It's all behind us now, including the painstaking archiving of the year's records... Who knows what our successors will be looking for in 2111!
It has been tremendous fun and I think we'll still be talking about our Centenary Lunch, with our wonderful guest poet, Alan Brownjohn, when we're putting our next set of celebratory events together, whenever that may be. Meantime, a selection of our photos are gathered here.
Mar 11: launch of celebratory
anthology "each passing breeze"
June: Centenary Lunch at the Bromley Court Hotel
8th October: We invited 5 modern poets to give us a 'Poet Taster' at the Beckenham Bookshop.
Each poet gave a short but impressive reading of 12 minutes - and each so different!
Lesley McLetchie read from the Writers' celebratory anthology for the centenary, each passing breeze, and Maggie Hoyle read poems from the 'Schools Portfolio' - poems written by the students of local schools, who were invited to take part in our Centenary 'Schools Poetry Project'.
Poetry Circle wishes to thank Enitharmon Press for their generous
Press are publishers of poetry and high quality art books:
a special thank you to local
schools for taking part in our Schools Poetry Project,
Centenary Lunch, Bromley Court Hotel, 28th June 2011
Photos courtesy & copyright © Isabel Turvey
Poet Taster reading, Beckenham Bookshop, 8th October 2011
photos by & copyright © Maggie Hoyle & Anne Stewart
photos from the launch of the Writers Group anthology, "each passing breeze"
at Beckenham Bookshop on 15th March 2011
Photos courtesy & copyright © Isabel Turvey
Getting into the Centenary spirit...
photos from the "Interiors & Exteriors" reading on the 8th February 2011
Shortlands Poetry Circle, 2006
just a few of the members
Left to right: Ann Barlow, Lesley McLetchie, Joyce Remmett, Patsy Paine,
Corrin & Wyn Parkinson,
Elizabeth Sibsey, Dorothy Clift, Alan Smith, Pat Jacobs & Maggie Hoyle
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all poems featured on this site remains with the