Write Out Loud and coronavirus: Bolton, Marsden, Woking nights are cancelled

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Three Write Out Loud open-mic poetry nights in March have been cancelled - at Bolton, Marsden, and Woking - as a result of coronavirus safety concerns. Cheltenham poetry festival - due to take place next month - said it was postponing its festival until the autumn. Teignmouth poetry festival said it was hoping to reschedule its festival later this year, too. Launches of an anthology celebrating the NHS due to take place in London and Birmingham have been cancelled. The Poetry School said it was closing the "physical school" for the next few weeks, and would be in touch with students about alternative learning options. Coffee-House Poetry, which attracts audiences of 100-plus to its nights at the Troubadour in London, has postponed all readings and workshops for the next three months.      

In general, Write Out Loud had been leaving organisers of those open-mic poetry nights that bear our name or have been long associated with our website to take their own decisions on whether to go ahead. Anyone planning to attend any Write Out Loud nights still taking place - or any other public event - should first consult the Public Heath England guidelines to assess their own risk level. Those who have travelled back to the UK from a number of countries recently are urged to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people, even if you do not have symptoms.

This advice is similar to that of the Poetry Society, whose Poetry Café in Covent Garden, London, stages poetry events almost every night of the week. Some events due to be held there have been cancelled. On its website it says: “With the developments (and some fears) around coronavirus, we’d like to share some useful resources for staying informed and measures to help everyone feel safe. As things stand, our activities, opening hours and operations will continue as usual, for both the Poetry Society and Poetry Cafe. At the Poetry Café, our priority is the welfare of our customers, staff and collaborators, so we ask that you follow the latest advice and information from Public Health England. Their website provides lots of useful information on what to do if you are experiencing symptoms.

“We can all help reduce the spread of illness, in general, by washing our hands regularly, covering our mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. We have put more instructions into all our toilets to help with this. We will continue to watch the situation closely and keep you informed from our end.”

That goes for Write Out Loud, too. There is also the possibility that, in some cases, responses by individual venues will take the decision out of organisers’ hands. Gloucestershire Poetry Society has cancelled three events scheduled in March, and Poetry Cafe Refreshed in Cheltenham has also scrapped its event at Smokey Joe's this month. Manchester's Platform 1 next Tuesday and Word Central on Wednesday 18 March have also been cancelled. 

We would add a further appeal – if any organiser does feel the need to cancel an event listed on our Gig Guide, PLEASE could you take the time to log on to our website, access the Gig Guide, and mark your event as ‘Cancelled’. The ‘Cancelled’ option is at the bottom of the event information. It only takes a moment. Many thanks.



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