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

27.3.16

IN THE GALWAY HOOKER BAR





































IN THE GALWAY HOOKER BAR

(Heuston Rail Station, Dublin)



I’m back in the Galway Hooker,
heading out to the west
and, as usual, it’s teeming
with the scheming
pond life of Dublin:
the newts
and wits
who twinkle
in this bowl
of moving humanity,
at swim
in sunlight,
slumped
in a beaten economics
and those boom days
that are past.

And Jimmy Joyce and his literary travellers
leer at us from a corner
of streaming consciousness
and bad girls’ skirts
drift upwards
in an afternoon
with miles ahead
and the promise
of a kiss
of Irish Coffee.

I’m crawling
today along
this beaten track to Limerick,
the chance occurrence
of a poetry event,
the opportunity for fickle friends
to catch my dreams
in inquisitive ears
and despatch
my skimming words
to the gutters of shot memories.

‘By God she’s a looker,
that one on the stool,
making an awful fool
of  a lad in the Hooker.’

‘Her legs go the whole way,
her terrible sin,
she sings
from here to Galway.’

 

And then The Boys from Tipperary
they’re here
in a clump of blazers and ties
and every one has a lass
on his hurling arm
and a pint of Guinness in his face.
We envy them
their youth and not their sense,
we wise old men of Heuston
who’ve seen the heroes come and go,
heard the guns ring out
across the Station
and learnt
to savour
the slaughter
in our glasses.

But now friends
we must be
heading off
to the dawn
and hope
that these trains
we leave behind
can find their way
to that which our history
sheds.

So remember
Sean Heuston,
the railway clerk,
a crucifix he kissed
and the freedom he died for,
every drink
that you down
in the Hooker.





KEITH ARMSTRONG

IN A PALACE BAR AFTERNOON






























‘When I first came to Dublin in 1939, I thought the Palace the most wonderful temple of art.’ (Patrick Kavanagh)


Dead conversations
and dud cheques
litter the gaps
between the gawping portraits
in this literary back room.
Here in the afternoon of Irish culture,
I hear the creak of Kavanagh’s knees
going down the steep bog stairs
pissing words away,
holding another conversation
in his clumsy hands.

So what’s a poetry boy to do?
Sozzle through another day,
dance betwen the lines of pints of plain,
wallow in the crevices of Beckett’s genius,
creep around the Palace floor,
scraping for scraps of dead oral histories?

For today, 
I’ll put away my pen
worn out with trying 
to trap the City of Limerick
in groping poems.
I’ll sit back
and crack with Duffy,
Lonsdale and the lads,
let Bertie Smyllie’s barking patter 
wash over my weariness.
Leave it to the shawlies 
in the huddled snug
to set things right,
I’m flying without a passport today,
buzzing along with Jimmy Joyce on board
this Ryanair Ulysses jet,
At Swim Two Birds.

And what’s the point
of lies in ink
when real poetry
should make a woman come
with the touch
of bird song on the lips of this hour?
Give your tongues a break,
Behan and Houlihan
and the rest, 
we’re dust
on a skin of Guinness.

And yet 
and yet,
the twinkle of light
through the old smoke of patter
does make the breath
in the lungs 
of a Dublin dancing day
as worthwhile
as the sweeping kiss
of that gull’s wings 
stroking the mouth of the Liffey.  




KEITH ARMSTRONG

25.3.16

GRAPES IN BULGARIA


































Grapes bulge in the seering sun,
fresh and healthy as a young girl,
rich with optimism
in a back street vineyard.
Taste sweet as your lips, dear.
Trickle down my throat.
Wine today in my poems.
Hang your head for life’s sake:
the portrait, decked with black ribbons,
nailed to the door,
stares at us as we drink
blood from the glass.
Along the rails,
hurtling headlong, we
spit out the pips
from the fruit an old lady gives us;
fruit of her heart,
her old heart,
decked with black ribbons.
Black wine in the night.
Stars bunch
over Bulgaria.
The rain refreshes our skin.
Peeling off our clothes,
we enter new towns,
strange rooms,
beds drenched
in yesterday’s kisses.
Picture on the hotel wall
is of a grape mountain.
Climb the stairs,
until your thirst is
quenched.
Sew seeds on the map.
Bulgaria, we’ll squeeze you
out of love,
to live.




KEITH ARMSTRONG

24.3.16

FOLLOW THE SUN LAUNCH DATE





















HERITAGE OPEN DAYS 2016.
 

FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 9TH 10.30AM DIAL COTTAGE, KILLINGWORTH.

FOLLOW THE SUN.

THE LAUNCH OF A  NEW NORTHERN VOICES COMMUNITY PROJECTS BOOKLET, SUPPORTED BY NORTH TYNESIDE COUNCIL, TO COMMEMORATE THE BICENTENARY OF GEORGE & ROBERT STEPHENSON'S SUNDIAL AT DIAL COTTAGE.

POETRY READINGS FROM EDITOR DR KEITH ARMSTRONG AND OTHER CONTRIBUTORS, SPECIALLY COMMISSIONED SONGS BY THE SAWDUST JACKS FOLK GROUP, TONY MORRIS AND OTHERS; ALSO FEATURING ANN SESSOMS ON NORTHUMBRIAN PIPES WITH A SELECTION OF APPROPRIATE TUNES.

19.3.16

CITY OF PEANUTS: JIMMY CARTER IN NEWCASTLE (MAY 6th 1977)































Abattoir City,
streets of cattle.
Cut veins 
and horny days,
we'll have your guts
for Carter.
'Howay the Lads!',
the leaders grin
and take you in,
use your blood 
to colour carpets.



KEITH ARMSTRONG

18.3.16

ME & DOUGLAS DUNN! WHAT A NIGHT!



16.3.16

FOLLOW THE SUN













































FOLLOW THE SUN
 

Follow the Sun is a new project for this year's Heritage Open Days (September 8th to 11th 2016) to mark the bicentenary of George and Robert Stephenson's sundial at Dial Cottage, Killingworth.

Northern Voices Community Projects, with the support of North Tyneside Council, is encouraging local writers, artists, musicians and schoolchildren to come up with poems, songs, stories and artwork to celebrate the sundial. A booklet of the written material and artwork, together with an historical background, will be launched on September 9th in Killingworth with readings of poems and stories and performances of the songs.

Please send your contributions to NVCP:  k.armstrong643@btinternet.com

14.3.16

THOMAS SPENCE (1750-1814) - THE HIVE OF LIBERTY





















(AFTER THE NAME OF THOMAS SPENCE’S BOOKSHOP AT 8 LITTLE TURNSTILE, HIGH HOLBORN)





I am a small and humble man,

my body frail and broken.

I strive to do the best I can.

I spend my life on tokens.



I traipse through Holborn all alone,

hawking crazy notions.

I am the lonely people’s friend.

I live on schemes and potions.



For, in my heart and in my mind,

ideas swarm right through me.

Yes, in this Hive of Liberty,

my words just flow like wine,

my words just flow like wine.



I am a teeming worker bee.

My dignity is working.

My restless thoughts swell like the sea.

My fantasies I’m stoking.



There is a rebel inside me,

a sting about to strike.

I hawk my works around the street.

I put the world to rights.



For, in my heart and in my mind,

ideas swarm right through me.

Yes, in this Hive of Liberty,

my words just flow like wine,

my words just flow like wine.









KEITH ARMSTRONG

'In England such concepts as justice, liberty and objective truth are still believed in.' (George Orwell)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IMy-h2re3g


Thomas Spence was born in Newcastle in 1750. Spence was the leading English revolutionary of his day, with an unbudgeable commitment to individual and press freedom and the common ownership of the land.



His tracts, such as The Rights of Man (Spence was, perhaps, the first to use the phrase) and The Rights of Infants, along with his utopian visions of 'Crusonia' and 'Spensonia', were the most far-reaching radical statements of the period. Spence was born in poverty and died the same way, after long periods of imprisonment, in 1814. 







4.3.16

GRAND HOTEL




When completed in 1867, the Grand Hotel, Scarborough, was one of the largest hotels in the world. The hotel's distinctive yellow brickwork was made locally in Hunmanby. The building is designed around the theme of time: four towers to represent the seasons, 12 floors for the months of the year, 52 chimneys for the weeks, and, originally, there were 365 bedrooms.

We yellow
in the fretting mist,
in a cold and massive sea
of worn out efforts.
To survive another dying day,
we group together
in a futile way
to seek out the haunting touch of warmth.
We have finished
with love,
we have come to die
among the lifts and dumb waiters
of a Grand Hotel no longer grand,
gone back to seed.
We choke on our fish and chips,
our battered skin
crumbling like these faded walls.
We are a calendar
of bent and aching hours,
sick with the germs of an English decay.
We hang about,
waiting for the coach
to take us away
and burn us
and our dreams.
Once we sang
in the midst of springtime hope,
our holiday hymns full of a rash desire.
Now we come here
to die in this recession,
on this grim evening,
thinking of the empire lost
and why we fought for it,
things gone wrong
with our poor children
who have inherited
our tears.



KEITH ARMSTRONG

1.3.16

I WILL SING OF MY OWN NEWCASTLE

You'll find me reading my poem 'I Will Sing Of My Own Newcastle' on this programme http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00q3kvw

"I heard the broadcast. You should be congratulated on your contribution. It was certainly more enjoyable than a man describing the photographs he'd taken on the wireless." (Brian Bennison, North East Laboury History Society).







I WILL SING OF MY OWN NEWCASTLE

sing of my home city
sing of a true geordie heart
sing of a river swell in me
sing of a sea of the canny
sing of the newcastle day

sing of a history of poetry
sing of the pudding chare rain
sing of the puddles and clarts
sing of the bodies of sailors
sing of the golden sea

sing of our childrens’ laughter
sing of the boats in our eyes
sing of the bridges in sunshine
sing of the fish in the tyne
sing of the lost yards and the pits

sing of the high level railway
sing of the love in my face
sing of the garths and the castle
sing of the screaming lasses
sing of the sad on the side

sing of the battles’ remains
sing of the walls round our dreams
sing of the scribblers and dribblers
sing of the scratchers of livings
sing of the quayside night
 
sing of the kicks and the kisses
sing of the strays and the chancers
sing of the swiggers of ale
sing of the hammer of memory
sing of the welders’ revenge

sing of a battered townscape
sing of a song underground
sing of a powerless wasteland
sing of a buried bard
sing of the bones of tom spence

sing of the cocky bastards
sing of a black and white tide
sing of the ferry boat leaving
sing of cathedral bells crying
sing of the tyneside skies

sing of my mother and father
sing of my sister’s kindness
sing of the hope in my stride
sing of a people’s passion
sing of the strength of the wind


KEITH ARMSTRONG


(as featured on BBC Radio 4)

the jingling geordie

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