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28.10.07

white house poet








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23.10.07

kolbe on armstrong



















Uwe Kolbe
Keith Armstrong’s Open Doors

It was in The Boulanger that we first met. Where else could it have been? Keith Armstrong, it seems, knows his way about here even better than in many places between Durham in the North-East of England, Groningen in Friesland, Amiens in Picardie, Berlin in Prussia and, well, Tübingen in Württemberg (‘to name but a few’). A traveller with an open mind and without any fear of contact; strange lives, countries and people succumb to his poetic and real incorporation. This is so for the same reason for which our romantic poets sought out Heaven and every abyss: it is to understand “why I am back on Earth; must come to know myself and the land that bore me.”

It was a reading, that first time and the performer did not hide behind the customary glass of water, neither did he sit on a chair, but stood, as he always does. I have experienced it often enough by now how he explains his poems, how he reassures himself, again and again, of his audience. We are to understand every aspect and every point. If we don’t, he doubts extensively, himself, the language, the word. Then on to poem and ballad. Keith Armstrong is a bard, too, who has the knack of writing real songs. That’s why every place is named, why the names of persons he grants an appearance in verse are correct, why his poems have historical causes and sometimes take historic shape, just like the performance. Historic.

But one should, while laughing, never forget: this poet is someone who in his biography and work inseparably unites wit and long gained knowledge, enthusiasm and great talent, pluck and social commitment....This is a man who conquers, with his poems and charms, pubs as well as universities. He has always been an instigator and an actor in social and literary projects, an activist without whom the exchanges between the twin towns of Durham and Tübingen would be a much quieter affair. That he is a friend of many friends, able to open the most amazing doors for his guests, can be taken as read. Keith Armstrong’s songs of a sensitive self in an ugly world and of a beautiful world in an unfathomable self are capable of opening the hearts of listeners and readers.





Uwe Kolbe
Oberlin, Ohio September 2007

(translated by Eberhard Bort)

because i drink

DRINKING IN THE ATMOSPHERE

(for Klaus)

‘The sheer banality of everyday life drives anyone of the slightest sensitivity into the arms of drugs and booze.’ (John Keenan).

‘Academic prizes, prizes for virtue, decorations, all these inventions of the devil encourage hypocrisy, and freeze the spontaneous upsurge of a free heart.’ (Baudelaire).


Because I drink too much,
I do not qualify for a grant.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll never taste success like you.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I cannot see the world like you.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll never write a sober poem.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll go on missing express trains.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll miss the joy of a real career.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll take too many risks and die.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll always play the fool too much.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll be an unprofessional poet.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll never match your reputation.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll float on waves of self-destruction.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll sing in all the world’s wrong places.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll override the Party lines.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll treasure all these drunken times.
Because I drink too much.

Because I drink too much,
I’ll dance on your Arts Council’s grave.
Because I drink too much.



KEITH ARMSTRONG

20.10.07

armstrong in cork!

CORK READING - 15th October 2007

Another full line-up in the Hayloft meant a great night for all involved. Thanks to Keith Armstrong and Paul Summers who set off the evening with their respective repertoires, both being humourous and strikingly sobering at the same time. Two quality performances that inspired a great welcome. We look forward to their return in late 2008.

All in all a fantastic night.


PAUL CASEY

3.10.07

cuisle 2007

Press Release
Cuisle 2007; Limerick City International Poetry Festival
17th – 20th October

2007 marks the eleventh Cuisle Festival in Limerick City, celebrating local, national and international excellence in poetry. The festival will take place from Wednesday 17th to Saturday 20th October with 23 poets from 6 different countries visiting Limerick over 4 days. Limericks’ long association with poetry makes Cuisle the perfect opportunity and place for audiences to extend their experience of poetry during four festival days of convivial discussion readings, book launches and workshops with the leading contemporary poets of our time.

The festival format over the four days includes lunchtime readings, readings for secondary school students, book launches and evening readings.

Some of this years line up of poets include international visiting poets Keith Armstrong (UK), Tom Cunliffe (UK), John Davies (UK), Hugh Dunkerley (UK), Gary Gach (USA), Barbara Korun (Slovenia), Ivica Prtenjaca (Slovakia), Jackie Willis (UK). Irish poets of international importance include Michael O’Siadhail, Michael Longley, Desmond O’Grady, Gabriel Fitzmaurice, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Seán Lysaght, Cathal Ó Searcaigh, Paddy Bushe and Theo Dorgan.

Five book launches will take place during the festival, each title an exciting new presence in the literary Irish writing scene; two journals of poetry (i) REVIVAL No. 5, and (ii) The Stony Thursday Book. Fifty Years 1957-2007 by Knute Skinner, and Twenty One Sonnets by Gabriel Fitzmaurice, both published by Salmon Poetry. Desmond O’Grady’s book My Alexandria will also be launched.

To celebrate the achievements of Limerick poets, a series of lunchtime (1pm) readings at Isaacs in O’Connell Street will celebrate the work of Teri Murray, Gerard Sheehy, Noel Harrington and Dominic Taylor.

The annual Cuisle Debate will take place on Saturday 20th at 3pm. The title of this year’s debate is ‘Can Poetry Make Things Happen?’ Paul Muldoon wrote “for poetry can make things happen, not only can, but must …..” Seamus Heaney in his Nobel lecture of 1995 acknowledges the power of poetry - “…..: the power to persuade that vulnerable part of our consciousness of its rightness in spite of the evidence of wrongness all around it, the power to remind us that we are hunters and gatherers of values, that our very solitudes and distresses are creditable ….”. Cuisle will bring together and harness all the energies of the poets to rediscover the power and the pulse of poetry.

Limerick City Gallery of Art and Limerick City Library will host workshops relating to poetry during the festival, including Bosca Filíocht (Poetry Box) where each child will be asked to pick a verse from a descriptive poem and to illustrate that poem with the help of artists Suzannah O’Reilly and Fiona Quill. There is also an opportunity for children to be part of a poetry master-class during the festival, places are limited, booking is essential.

For further information on all our events during the Cuisle Poetry Festival contact by email artsoffice@limerickcity.ie or call into Belltable Arts Centre for a festival brochure and book tickets on 061 319866.


This festival is funded by The Arts Council, Limerick City Council, Failte Ireland, Poetry Ireland and the Belltable Arts Centre

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poet and raconteur