On Jan 30th I did a talk for the Leamington Spa Literary Salon, in Leamington's Real Tennis club, which is in the city centre. We have a court in Cambridge, but I've never been. Before the talk I had a chance to watch a few points being played - looks like a mix of tennis and squash.
I read 2 poems from "Moving Parts" and 2 stories (one from "By All Means") to an audience of 40 or so, talked about creating characters (the risks of using family, etc), and tried to provoke a discussion about the state of poetry and short stories in the UK, especially regarding sales. I said that a long time ago all literature was poetry but now it's barely read. Though cultural people are polite about it, they don't feel obliged to read the latest poetry book in the way that they'd watch a film or read a talked-about novel. My limiting definition of poetry quite rightly came into the discussion.
I tried to approach it rather like an upmarket, cultural stand-up gig (indeed, I was followed by a stand-up comedian/ artist, who was jolly). Having read about how stand-ups can have bad experiences, I was rather apprehensive about dealing with an unknown audience. It was the first talk of that type that I've done - useful practise. On How much should writers charge for events? it suggests fees of £150 but the groups I know couldn't cope with that (Jeffrey Archer spoke to our local writers group for nothing), and anyway it was good to see so many people coming out for the evening. See An evening of short stories, poetry and comedy for another write-up.