Saturday evening in Café Lento. Closed sign on the door. Twenty nine sundry poetic souls packed inside. Through the steamy window, a typical Saturday street for Headingley: passing cars, a siren, the odd scream of laughter, two girls dressed as bumblebees...
Richard Lindley, who runs the café, runs the poetry, and it's a little bit like a Quaker meeting, with people standing to read as the spirit moves them and as Richard beckons (mostly they read, but one of them quotes from the Hebrew scriptures which are in her head) and everyone else glowing with encouragement and appreciation. Richard is gentle but businesslike.
He dispenses free coffee and quiz papers (where do these lines come from and so on) for the interval. He chats and jokes with everyone. He's in a long line of literary hosts stretching back to the one at the Tabard in Southwark. Cafés, he knows, go well with poetry. Short stories too - but that's for the future.
The poems are usually very personal (no surprise), and often have a focus on small incidents, tiny happenings with great significance. Start with the cosmos and you'll fall like a brick. Start with a brick and you'll end up with the cosmos.