After the Night Before

Last night, we celebrated seven years of Yes We Cant. That’s seven years of putting on top-notch poetry events – originally in a Walsall pub and now online – which is no mean feat, and we felt we should mark the occasion with something a little bit special. So we did.

Our headliner was the incredible Liz Berry – who did a set made up of requests from our audience on the night, which was just phenomenal. ‘Alf Ender Tim Brookes explained how he’s relatively new to the world of poetry, and then showed us why he’s taking it by storm. Our open mic poets ranged from people performing live for the first time, through to poets with reams of experience. All of them were great. Oh, and NOFB Pitt drank mead. Well, it was a birthday. What else you going to do?

Thanks to everyone who came along, and to all the people who’ve supported us and our night over the last seven years. Let’s make the next seven better still.

Strength to strength

You might think that after running Yes We Cant for some considerable time – originally in the Pretty Bricks pub in Walsall, moving online when the pandemic happened, and still there now – we’d be a little jaded. That we’ve seen it all. That it’s next to impossible to find quality poets to join us on the first Sunday of each month and share their work.

Dear reader, you’d be wrong. Each month, we’re stunned by the quality of the open mic poets, and awed by the craft of our features. And last night was no exception. Our ‘Alf Ender was Carol J Forrester, and if you’ve not heard her read yet, we recommend you do. Her work is beautifully layered and crafted. The quality of the open mics? We’re glad you asked. They were astounding. And our headliner, Nafeesa Hamid, knocked it right out of the park.

Nafeesa first headlined for us back in July 2019, when we were still in the Pretty Bricks and her book ‘Besharam’ had been published by Verve Poetry Press just a few months earlier. It was truly wonderful to see how she’s grown as a performer and a writer over the years – her set was utterly compelling.

Next month, we’ll be celebrating our seventh anniversary. Seven years of putting on a monthly event which brings the best of contemporary poetry to our part of the world. We can scarcely believe we’ve done it, and you’d better believe we have something really special planned. Sunday June 2nd. Put it in your diary. We’ll see you there.


When the theme was choosen for PASTA in March and it came out as “Scary Panda” I can’t have been the only one who thought, “Oh! That will be tough.” But one thing PASTA always brings out is a level of creativity which is varied, sublime and astonishing.

A close up of a microphone with theatre seats in the background blurred out. Text at the top reads, "PASTA. Poets and Storytellers Assemble" On the right, next to the microphone are the words "This month's theme: SCARY PANDA " At the bottom are the words, "Arena Theatre, Wolverhampton. Tuesday 19th March 2024. 7.30pm. Free Entry" Also in the bottom right is an AI generated image of a scary panda. The prompt was "A scary panda but in a fun and cartoony style. if you can have them chasing a poet through a bamboo field then even better." It's done a pretty good job to be fair but that was down to the quality of the prompt.

So yes we had work on scary pandas, and scary Panda-monialists and creatures in general. Then in the second half everyone stretched their wings (or would a more suitable metaphor be “puffed up their fur”) and the mix of subjects, voices and emotions was immense.

It’s great to see how PASTA has grown over time and the variety of faces and experiences which are coming through our little night.

The truth is, when you dare to assemble poets and storytellers you shouldn’t really be surprised at the magic which comes out and it always does. We’ll see you in June.

Tavern In The Town

Over the past six months, as well as running our poetry events, we’ve been beavering away on a project to commemorate the Tavern in the Town, which was a legendary rock pub in the heart of Wolverhampton through the 1970s and the 1980s. The project has been made possible by a grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund (thank you, National Lottery players!) and we’re extremely grateful to them for that.

The Tavern was at the heart of the city’s rock subculture until it finally closed in 1987, when it became Moriarty’s. This was not – by any stretch of the imagination – a popular move, and Moriarty’s shut its doors for good at the beginning of 1991. During the Tavern years, however, the pub was often rammed, and walking in through the pub door which opened onto Queen Square – and which was the only part of the pub visible to passers-by – took you into a different world where denim and leather ruled supreme.

We’re passionate about our city and its rich history, and wanted to make sure this slice of  Wolverhampton’s past was recorded, not forgotten. So we’ve been busy researching the history of the pub, collecting photos from back in the day, and interviewing and photographing people who drank in the Tavern and who remember it fondly.

We’re now at the business end of our project, when the results of our work become clear. Earlier this week, two thousand copies of our free newspaper – titled Tavern in the Town and packed with images and edited interviews – arrived from the printers. Over the next week or two we’ll be distributing them to pubs, libraries, shops, and cafes across Wolverhampton.

We’ve also arranged an exhibition at the Mander Centre Community Hub from 19-21 April, where we’ll be displaying portrait photographs and selected texts on the walls, and playing audio clips through a small PA. Copies of the free newspaper will also be available here.We’ve also arranged an exhibition at the Mander Centre Community Hub from 19-21 April, where we’ll be displaying portrait photographs and selected texts on the walls, and playing audio clips through a small PA. Copies of the free newspaper will also be available here.

Thirdly, we’ve created a website Over the next two weeks we’ll be adding pages and populating them with stories, interviews, photographs, and memories of the Tavern days. You’ll also find a Spotify playlist of tunes which folk remembered from afternoons and evenings happily spent in the Tavern. There’s over seven hours of music there. Seven hours! If there’s a tune you remember which isn’t in the list, email [email protected] and let us know, and we’ll add it. If you’ve photos of the Tavern from back in the day, send them too.

Once this project has closed, the website will remain live for five years, until Spring 2029. All the information we’ve gathered over the course of this project will go to the Wolverhampton City Archives so it is available in perpetuity. Our sincere thanks to all the people who took part in this project. We hope we’ve done your memories justice.

Made Possible with Funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Thanks to National Lottery players.

Wolves Lit Fest

As a new year races into our vision like an excitable puppy it’s time for PPP to start preparing for Wolverhampton Lit Fest. Since its inception we’ve run events as part of the festival and this year is no exception.

It all starts for us on Saturday 3rd February 2024 when we curate the Fringe Room taking placein the Arena Theatre. All five performances are pay-as-you-feel and it starts off with a trio you might have heard of. Yes, we kick off the event with our Pass the Poetry Parcel show.

Then, rather than rest and go to the pub we instead bring you another four shows from Tina
Sederholm, Dan Webber, Rose Condo and duo Willis the Poet and Ben Moore. We also have the Poetry Competition Winners Showcase event at 4.30pm in the same building. If you get there early you technically don’t need to leave the building for six hours so bring your slippers.

After a quick break we then run (well, amble gracefully) over the road to the Art Gallery for the Stars of the Slam event. Jemima Hughes, Matt Jones, Kieren King, Chloe Jacquet and Colin Wells have all earned their place in poetry folklore by winning slams somewhere on this isle and we’re putting them in a single place, at a single time for your enjoyment. All for a fiver. It’s like inflation never happened.

Then the poetry Gods allow us to sleep for a few hours before returning to the Art Gallery on Sunday for the Writers’ Hub. From 11am to 6pm a bevy of local writers’ groups have some time to share their work. All the events are free. Jonathan Davidson from Writing West Midlands will also have a stall at the event for you to find out more about the work WWM do in the region. It’s yet another day you might want to bring your slippers.

And finally on Friday 9th February we have the now legendary Wolverhampton Lit Fest Poetry Slam. Again we’re at the Arena. Tickets are £12 and you can even watch on the livestream if you want to sit in your own home in your slippers. PPP Slams are always special events and the Wolves Lit Fest slam is the specialest of the special. Our hometown slam, in what is usually a packed theatre. Get your tickets sharpish because this can sell out.

With all that buzz, it’s no wonder the puppy is so excited. We hope to see you at one or more (or all!) of the events.

Ironbridge Festival poetry competition results

The results for this year’s Ironbridge Festival poetry competition are now out. Congratulations to our winner, Helen Kay, and all other winning and shortlisted poets. Our thanks to our judge, Pat Edwards, and to every single poet who entered. We wish you all the very best with your submissions to other competitions in future. You can read the full list of winners and shortlisted poets here:

If you’re in and around Ironbridge next Sunday (October 15th) we’re holding a prizewinners’ event at Coalbrookdale Community Centre, from 11.30am, where some of the winning poets will be reading their poems, Pat Edwards will say a few words about the judging process, and poets who submitted to the TF postcode part of the competition will also have the opportunity to read. Entry is free, and everyone is welcome to come along and listen. We hope to see you there!

best wishes

Yes We Cant in Asgard

Last night we took Yes We Cant back to Walsall, and held our first ever hybrid event at the wonderful Asgard Games in the town centre. It’s a perfect venue: large, airy, clean, comfortable, welcoming. And it has a bar. What’s not to like?

Our goal was to recreate the warmth, atmosphere, and enjoyment of Yes We Cant as it used to be at the Pretty Bricks, while also ensuring that we brought our Zoom audience with us – we’ve spent three years sharing our events with them, and they’ve taught us a lot about the importance of accessibility and how we need to facilitate it. We’d finally found a venue, now we just had to make it work.

We kept it simple. Booked a great headline poet, a compelling ‘Alf Ender, filled the open mic spots, and threw open the physical and virtual doors to anyone who wanted to come. And reader, they came. Dave MCed, Steve looked after the webcam, and Emma chatted with the Zoom attendees. S Reeson (thank you!) rolled up her sleeves and got stuck in, too. Everything ran like a dream. The open mic poets? Brilliant. Our ‘Alf Ender, Tina Cole? Fantastic. Headliner Ben Davis? Hilarious.

And the feedback? It couldn’t be better.

“You did a brilliant job tonight. I’ve been to 3 previous hybrids and they were unsuccessful due to poor sound and a feeling of isolation in the zoom room. Yours was perfect.”

“Dear PPP, the first hybrid YWC was a triumph. Great sound and video quality, felt like I had a front row seat. All the performers knocked it out the park. Thank you all again for making your event genuinely inclusive. Keep up the good work. Looking forward to the next one.”

We’re over the moon, Brian. Over the chuffing moon.

October Yes We Cant

We are excited to announce the news that on Sunday October 1st we’ll be having our first ever hybrid Yes We Cant. Our flagship poetry night has been a purely online event since the pandemic, but we’re dipping our toes back into the real-world water, and heading back to Walsall to for an evening which will be both online and in the delightful physical space that is Asgard Games.

Whether you want to join us via Zoom or be with us at Asgard, we’d love you to come along and be part of this. Our headliner for the night will be the outrageously hilarious Ben Davis, while our ‘Alf Ender will be Tina Cole. There’ll be ten open mic places, there’s good ales, and the night remains – as ever – a pay-as-you-feel event.

With this being our first-ever  attempt at running a hybrid event, we need to run through a bit of housekeeping so we all know what to expect….

1. At this event, Zoom attendees will purely be able to watch and listen to what’s happening, as well as interact with PPP via the chat function. We know this isn’t ideal, but we’re learning how to do this as we go along, and hope to build on what we can do over time. We’re also going to find out just how easy/difficult it is to work an event which is online and in a physical space, so if there are any hiccups, do please bear with us.
2. This means that on October 1st all ten open-mic spaces will be available to folk who are physically present at Asgard Games. Again, this is something we hope to be able to change as we learn what’s involved, and what tech we might need, but it’s baby steps for now.
3. We promise you great poetry, a range of voices, and a top night’s entertainment. Yes We Cant at Asgard will be just as good as ever. If you want a Zoom space, get in touch. If you’re coming along to the venue on the night, just turn up. And whichever you’re doing, please tell your friends. Thank you.

See you there!

best wishes

PPP Poetry Competition Winners Announced

We’re pleased to announce the winners, shortlisted poets and commended poets in the PPP Poetry Competition 2023. The standard was exceptionally high and praise needs to go to everyone who submitted but particularly those who made the shortlist. All the details are on the competition webpage along with the top three poems.

On top of that we have raised a fantastic £851.77 to help support the work of The Good Shepherd in Wolverhampton.

Well done everyone.