BACK IN TUEBINGEN NOVEMBER 15TH TO 18TH FOR TUEBINGEN/DURHAM 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

BACK IN TUEBINGEN NOVEMBER 15TH TO 18TH FOR TUEBINGEN/DURHAM 30TH ANNIVERSARY ANTHOLOGY LAUNCH

28.6.15

TRAVELLING POET





















From my friend Martin in Amsterdam, a long term companion in one of my favourite (and one of the oldest) Amsterdam bars, the Karpershoek!:

TRAVELLING POET

He travels by plane and train.
The words travel in his brain.
And if we sit in the Karpershoek,
the beer travels in us again.



Martin van de Vijfeijke

24.6.15

LEAVING FRIENDS/FRIENDS LEAVING































(in memory of Mick Standen)


I have lost my roaring boys and girls.
They are left behind,
fallen from Collegium stools;
the poignant moments in Lange Gasse dust.
Times and laughter shared,
dwindled to an Ammer trickle
in a bleak semester,
worn out days.

Friends are for leaving.
I’m afraid
I am too old to chase it.
These young Swabian mistresses
are too damned quick
for me to grab anymore
their lightning glances,
hints of a possible romance
boarding trains,
flickering
in frigid seminar rooms.

Tear yourself from me
as I stumble
through security.
I know I’ll miss
your touch.

Horst has gone from Hades bar,
Paddy from the Boulanger,
Gerd has flown
to China.
Now Mick has slipped away
and all those twinning hours.

Nothing is still.
Her eyelashes flicker,
new wounds open;
the light streams on Wilhelmstrasse,
darkness fills Hafengasse.

A special sunlight
sparkles in my beer,
shafts of it
dart on the counter.
A bird flaps
across my face,
shadow
of a former glory.

So that’s the story:
we lose it all,
we lose everything
and everyone.
It’s why I cling
to the night wind
beating against my cheeks,
to the whisper of the leaves
along this dull suburban street.

The old voices
of mates I made
howling
through the mediocrity
of lonely petrol stations,
soul-destroying car parks.

Puddles
of former joy
winking at the moon.



KEITH ARMSTRONG

20.6.15

FOR JOE SKIPSEY: THE PITMAN POET OF PERCY MAIN (1832-1903)





























‘He’ll tell his tale o’er a pint of ale,
And crack his joke, and bad
Must be the heart who loveth not
To hear the Collier Lad.’ (Skipsey)


To be a pitman poet
you drag words
out of the seam of a dictionary,
write against the grain
all the time
feeling the pain
of a small education,
scribbling in the dark
for a bright spark
germ of a poem.
Hewing
for rhymes,
ducking 
in case the roof
of the verse
caved in on you,
Joe
it was bloody hard 
to learn,
to craft a line
from the black pit
when the whole world
weighed down on you.
A man was forced
to sing,
to render a ballad
like a lamp in the tunnel,
scraping an education
from coal,
crawling along bookshelves
to find daylight,
Shakespeare,
Shelley
and melody
in the stacks
of an underground library.




KEITH ARMSTRONG

13.6.15

FOR 'CUNY' - JOHN CUNNINGHAM PASTORAL POET 1729-1773





















FOR 'CUNY'



‘Search where Ambition rag'd, with rigour steel'd;
Where Slaughter, like the rapid lightning, ran;
And say, while mem'ry weeps the blood-stain'd field,
Where lies the chief, and where the common man?’

(John Cunningham)

‘Unto thy dust, sweet Bard! adieu!
Thy hallow'd shrine I slowly leave;
Yet oft, at eve, shall Mem'ry view
The sun-beam ling'ring on thy grave.’

(David Carey)

This week an elegant tombstone, executed by Mr. Drummond of this town, was set up in St. John's church-yard to the memory of the late ingenious Mr. John Cunningham. The following is the inscription thereon:

‘Here lie the Remains of JOHN CUNNINGHAM.
Of his Excellence as a Pastoral Poet,
His Works will remain a Monument
For Ages
After this temporary Tribute of Esteem
Is in Dust forgotten.
He died in Newcastle, Sept 18, 1773,
Aged 44.’

The ritual slaughter
of traffic,
hurling itself
against the furious economy,
the commerce of suffering,
the pain of money,
nudges your bones
in this graveyard of hollow words.
I hear you liked a jar
well, here’s me 
sprinkling
your precious monument 
with a little local wine,
lubricating the flowers
that burst from your pastoral verses.

You toured the boards like me,

torn like me,
with your heart,
terrific heart,
pouring real blood on your travelling sleeve.
Oh, my God!
your lips trembled
with a delicate love
for the fleeting joy,
the melancholic haze,
the love in a mist,
that Tom Bewick sketched in you
amd Mrs Slack fed
as you passed along 
this way and that
despair in your eyes.
The fact was
you were not born
for the rat race
of letters,
the ducking and fawning
for tasteless prizes,
the empty bloated rivalry,
the thrust of their bearded egos.
You wanted wonder,
the precise touch
of the sun on your grave,
the delicious kiss
that never comes back.
I’m with you, ‘Cuny’
in this Newcastle Company of Comedians;
I’m in your clouds of drunken ways;
I twitch with you
in my poetic nervousness
along Westgate Road.
And the girls left their petals for you
like I hope they do for me
in the light of the silver moon,
thinking of your pen 
scratching stars into the dark sky.


KEITH ARMSTRONG

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he has worked as a community development worker, poet, librarian and publisher, Doctor Keith Armstrong now resides in the seaside town of Whitley Bay. He has organised several community arts festivals in the region and many literary events. He is coordinator of the Northern Voices Community Projects creative writing and community publishing enterprise and was founder of Ostrich poetry magazine, Poetry North East, Tyneside Poets  and the Strong Words and Durham Voices community publishing series.
He recently compiled and edited books on the Durham Miners’ Gala and on the former mining communities of County Durham, the market town of Hexham and the heritage of North Tyneside. He has been a self employed writer since 1986 and he was awarded a doctorate in 2007 for his work on Newcastle writer Jack Common at the University of Durham where he received a BA Honours Degree in Sociology in 1995 and Masters Degree in 1998 for his studies on regional culture in the North East of England. His biography of Jack Common was published by the University of Sunderland Press in 2009. 
He was Year of the Artist 2000 poet-in-residence at Hexham Races, working with artist Kathleen Sisterson. He has also written for music-theatre productions, including ‘Fire & Brimstone’ (on painter John Martin), 1989, and ‘The Hexham Celebration’, 1992, both for the Hexham Abbey Festival. He appeared again at the Hexham Abbey Festival in 2008 reciting the poetry of Hexham poet Wilfrid Gibson.
His poetry has been extensively published in magazines such as New Statesman, Poetry Review, Dream Catcher, and Other Poetry,  as well as in the collections The Jingling Geordie, Dreaming North, Pains of Class, Imagined Corners, Splinters (2011) and The Month of the Asparagus (2011), on cassette, LP & CD, and on radio & TV.  He has performed his poetry on several occasions at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and at Festivals in Aberdeen, Bradford, Cardiff, Cheltenham (twice at the Festival of Literature - with Liz Lochhead and with 'Sounds North'), Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Greenwich, Lancaster, and throughout Britain. 
In his youth, he travelled to Paris to seek out the grave of poet Charles Baudelaire and he has been making cultural pilgrimages abroad ever since. He has toured to Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Poland, Iceland (including readings during the Cod War), Denmark, France, Germany (including readings at the Universities of Hamburg, Kiel, Oldenburg, Trier and Tuebingen), Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Cuba, Jamaica and Kenya.
He has read several times in Limerick and in Cork, Dublin, Kinvara, Fermoy and Galway. His irish adventures have inspired him to write a sequence of poems based on the places he has visited and the people he has met. With Dominic Taylor, he co-edited the anthology ‘Two Rivers Meet, poetry from the Shannon and the Tyne’ which was published by Revival Press as part of the exchange between Limerick and Keith’s home city.


'In another part of the field, another field, let's
face it, sits Keith Armstrong's rakish gaff. (His)
poems are rooted in the Tyneside music hall tradition,
closely behind which was the august balladry of the
Borders. His is an unashamed bardic stance, actor
rather than commentator. His politics are personal.
Throughout the collection the authentic lyrical note
of this northern poet is struck.'  (Michael Standen,
Other Poetry).

9.6.15

I REMEMBER IVOR ALLCHURCH


































Golden Boy,
I remember you 
made me queue
with all the other Geordie lads
in one straight line
down the car park
for your autograph.
Patiently,
one by one,
you signed for us. 
A Swansea son, 
footballing gentleman,
all those years ago,
you impressed me
with your calm consideration:
a measured passer
of dignity
through generations.




KEITH ARMSTRONG




*Ivor Allchurch (1929 -1997) played for Newcastle United 143 times between 1958 and 1962 and scored 46 goals.

4.6.15

THE MELLY-BELLY SONGS/FIVE SEA SONGS


mellybelly

Demo CD of

The Melly-Belly Songs / Five Sea Songs
by Jakub Zahradnik


to poems by Katrina Porteous and Keith Armstrong
Produced by Pagat Ultimo Musical Productions, s.r.o in Prague.

A few years ago, Dr Keith Armstrong, a well-known poet from Newcastle, travelled through Europe and met Czech composer and poet Jakub Zahradnik in Prague. Keith introduced Katrina to Jakub, and they performed together at Poetic Cafe Obratnik, where Jakub worked as a programme manager. The encounter resulted in a friendship, further reciprocal visits, and joint performances in Prague and Newcastle.
Jakub was inspired to make a setting of Katrina's 'Five Sea Songs' written in the Northumbrian Dialect – five duets dealing with the lives of men and women, connected by the sea and the uneasy lot of fishermen. He has also worked with Keith Armstrong's poems to create 'The Melly-Belly Songs', characterized by the typical span of Keith's style – tender lyricism and nostalgia, blended with blistering humour and provocative satire.

For more information about Jakub Zahradnik and his music, please see:
www.jakubzahradnik.com
For copies of the demo CD please contact:
k.armstrong643@btinternet.com

1.6.15

THE LOVE OF LIMERICK!







'Keith, poet, lover of Ireland, lover of Limerick - The Whitehouse - On The Nail - has a deep attachment to Limerick, and is greatly appreciated by all of us for his immense contribution to poetic life here.' (Gerard Siney)

the jingling geordie

My photo
whitley bay, tyne and wear, United Kingdom
poet and raconteur