Posted by keith armstrong at 7:45 am
Lines from my poem 'Song for Northumberland' in community rug for Berwick 900 on display in Berwick Town Hall:
'Your contribution was greater than you think due to the involvement with so many people in creating the rag rug and it was a real delight and so very fitting to have you both opening the event.' (Wendy Robinson, Berwick 900)
Posted by keith armstrong at 7:40 am
THE POETRY OF JAZZ
A NEW PROJECT: POETRY BY KEITH ARMSTRONG & IMAGES BY PETER DIXON
Tyneside artists and jazz enthusiasts Keith Armstrong and Peter Dixon have created a display of colour paintings, images and poems celebrating the greats of the jazz world from Lous Armstrong to George Melly, Billie Holiday to Charles Mingus and many more. The exhibition can be viewed at JG Windows in Newcastle's Central Arcade in the Printed Music Department on the first floor of the store for the immediate future. A live jazz and poetry event is being planned at Windows to launch the display - look out for details of this later.
Contact - Keith Armstrong tel 0191 2529531 or Rupert Bradbury (JG Windows) tel 0191 2321356 for further information.
Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, where he has worked as a community worker, poet, librarian and publisher, Doctor Keith Armstrong now resides in Whitley Bay. He is coordinator of the Northern Voices Community Projects creative writing and community publishing enterprise.
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 culture in the North East of England.
His poetry has been extensively published in magazines such as New Statesman and Poetry Review as well as in the collections Splinters (2011) and The Month of the Asparagus (2011) and broadcast on radio & TV.
He has performed his poetry throughout Britain and abroad.
In his youth, he travelled to Paris and he has been making international cultural pilgrimages ever since.
North Shields based artist, photographer and graphic designer Peter Dixon began his working life as a designer at the Shields Gazette, later becoming Senior Visualiser at the North East Co-op. He has worked in several advertising agencies and runs his own design company.
In 2012 he had a major exhibition of paintings and photographs, entitled The River and the Slake, displayed at Bede’s World, Jarrow.
He has produced and co-written many publications and exhibitions for Northern Voices Community Projects.
Something sad about clowns;
something thin between laughter and tears.
Pity the dignity, the love and the hate,
the twitching wire between body and soul
and you on that stage,
drunk on rum and borrowed blues again;
unique in the balance you keep to yourself -
never quite losing it,
never quite making it;
bawling out between Magritte and Morton,
playing the droopy-drawered clown
do the Melly Belly,
big brash belly laugh blues.
Posted by keith armstrong at 11:35 am
Grainger Market 180th Birthday Celebrations
Date and Location: Wednesday 28th October, Grainger Market
5.30pm - Entertainment from Sawdust Jacks (local folk group), Keith Armstrong (poet), Gordon Phillips (poet), Ann Sessoms (Northumbrian Piper)
6pm - Welcome to celebrations by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Councillor Ian Graham
6.05pm - Welcome from John Phillips, Chairman of Grainger Market Traders Association
6.10pm - John Grundy – talks about the Grainger Market and Newcastle
6.20pm - Lord Mayor and Sheriff award Grainger Market Customer Service Award winner with certificates and hamper
6.30pm - Gifts awarded to dignitaries/special guests
6.35pm - Lord Mayor and John Phillips cut the Birthday cake and open the Buffet
6.40pm - Entertainment from Sawdust Jacks, Keith Armstrong (poet),
Gordon Phillips (poet), Ann Sessoms (Northumbrian Piper)
7.30pm - Finish
Access - Please note access to this event from 5.30pm is via Entrance 1 of the Grainger Market on Grainger Street between Skipton Building Society and the Wildtrack store.
This is life,
the gloss and the flesh,
Weigh House of passion and flame.
You can get lost in this market’s amazement
but you can never lose yourself.
a sleep walk in these grazing crowds
can feel like a stroll through your brain.
within a city,
Bazaar and blind,
these swollen alleys
flow with a teeming life’s blood.
Swim for your life !
MAUD WATSON, FLORIST
bred in a market arch
in a city's armpit
in your time-rough hands
a beautiful girl in a slum alley
all that kindness in your face
and you're right
the times are not what they were
this England's not what it was
flowers shrink in that crumbling vase
dusk creeps in on a cart
and Maud the sun is choking
Maud this island's sinking
and all that swollen sea is
the silent majority
Photos: Keith Armstrong & Peter Dixon
Posted by keith armstrong at 6:37 pm
BERWICK 900: ARTY-
The Guild Hall
Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th October
- The completed Berwick 900 Timeline -
Key events and characters from 900 years of Berwick’s history illustrated by Tony Johnson
- Amazing selection of art and craftwork by local schools, community groups and individuals inspired by Berwick’s history and cultural heritage
- Berwick 900 community rag-
rug wall- hanging based around lines from Keith Armstrong’s poem “Song for Northumberland”
- Demonstrations of peg-
loom weaving, needle- felting, Lucet cord- making, mosaic- work and rag- rugging
- Traditional plant dyes
- Drawings made during the visit of the historic herring drifter “Reaper” to the Quayside in July
Posted by keith armstrong at 12:40 pm
‘Futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.’
the sky is red
and the clouds are banked like grieving hills.
In this curled up sleeping town,
humble in its sandstone walls,
you can hear
the hooves of history
clipping the soaking streets
and the high heeled girls
clattering on a Saturday night
with the cutting wind
ripping up their thin skirts
as they bleed into town,
past the sheep feeding on the ancient land
by Rosebank Crescent
where ‘The Maid of the Seas’,
Pan Am 103,
exploded on a sunk estate.
And life throws strangers together,
throws a suitcase of junk together.
And all our memories are ashes,
all our fantasies smoke.
And no one but the simple bending vicar knows
why The News dropped through our roof that night,
crashed onto our TVs that night.
Only the God in the angry sky has a glimmer,
only the groaning tombstones of Lockerbie have an idea,
the silent sandstone
and the biting rain;
only the old Scots lady knitting
for the refugees,
ducking her head under a leaden sky
the future lands on her.
And, in a field not far away,
someone’s diary lies rotting;
a love letter
scattered in the wind;
that won’t leave Lockerbie
the red dust on a broken past;
this town’s historic wound
aching on the map.
as featured in scottish review: http://www.scottishreview.net/RussellGalbraith86.shtml
Your poem 'Lockerbie' was published by the Scottish Review and it impressed me so much (I was a journalist at the time of the Lockerbie incident) that I introduced my Higher English students to it. They too found it very powerful. I would now like to incorporate it into the course work material I am working on but need your permission to do that.
I look forward to hearing from you - and having looked at other work on your website, can I say how much I admire your style.
Posted by keith armstrong at 7:28 pm
Posted by keith armstrong at 9:49 p.m.
Posted by keith armstrong at 2:47 pm
Cobbled webs of my thoughts
hang around your lanes.
A brass band nestles in my head,
cosy as a bed bug.
I’m reading from a balcony
poems of Revolution.
It’s Gala Day and the words are lost
in the coal dust of your lungs.
Your dark satanic brooding Gaol
throws a blanket over blankness:
a grim era of second hand visions
aches like a scab in a cell.
And rowing a punt up your Bishop’s arse
a shaft of sunlight on the river
strikes me only as true,
shining into the eyes of all the prisoners
swinging from Cathedral bells.
Old Durham Town, you imprison me
like a scream in a Salvation Army song,
release me soon:
get ready to hug me.
in a New Town,
we watch the sea roll,
through the fallen leaves
and cracked houses.
You whisper to me.
‘It’s the place to be’:
this misty dream,
this bird hanging from a tree,
this windblown giro world.
Across the flat roofs,
we danced and skipped
over the puddles and the nightmares.
The clouds hung in our eyes.
Older now, wize and wizened,
we stare from our windows in Sunny Blunts
and feel our skin peel.
‘Peter Lee is the Man in the Moon,’
we tell our kids,
‘he’s where it’s at.’
A stray dog barks in the moonlight.
Tonight, newspapers swept across grass,
it’s time to find
a New Moon,
a new New Town.
DOCTOR KEITH ARMSTRONG & DURHAM
Keith Armstrong was founder of East Durham Writers' Workshop
and the Durham Voices community publishing series.
He has compiled and edited books on the Durham Miners’ Gala and on the former mining communities of County Durham. He was Community Arts Development Worker (1980-6) with Peterlee Community Arts (later East Durham Community Arts) and 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.
He has also held residencies in Durham, Easington, Sedgefield, Derwentside, Teesdale and Wear Valley.
His commissioned work includes ‘Suite for the River Wear’ (with Dreaming North) (1989) for BBC Radio; and ‘The Little Count’ (with Andy Jackson and Benny Graham) (1993) for Durham County Council. He was the Judge for the Sid Chaplin Short Story Awards in 2000.
He has long pioneered cultural exchanges with Durham’s twinning partners, particularly Tuebingen and Nordenham in Germany and Ivry-sur-Seine and Amiens in France. In fact, he has visited Tuebingen over 30 times since he first spent a month there in November 1987 as poet in residence supported
by Durham County Council and the Kulturamt, and he has performed his poetry in the city’s Hoelderlin Tower and, on four occasions, as part of its Book Festival.
An archive of his work is held at Palace Green Library, University of Durham. http://reed.dur.ac.uk/xtf/view?docId=ead/lit/armstrgk.xml
Posted by keith armstrong at 8:03 am
Photo by Tony Whittle
She is out feeding the birds,
on the dot again,
in the drizzle of a seaside morning;
cast fom her hand
to the jerking beak of a cock pheasant.
She is alone
in a flock of dark starlings,
scattering crumbs to make them shriek.
She is a friend of spuggies,
gives blackbirds water.
Her eyes fly across the garden
to catch a quick robin,
to spot a wee wren,
to chase a bold magpie.
She is innocence,
she is a lovely old lady;
She deserves heaven,
she deserves a beautiful nest
to dream out her last hours
in bird song;
in the rich colours of music,
in the red feathers of sunset,
she is my mother,
she is a rare bird
who fed me beautiful dreams.
Thank you for letting me climb
with the skylarks.
for the strength of wings.
Thank you very much for this poem. Ever since I have heard you reading it out at “Poems, Prose, Pints” it has been on my mind – it’s written in such a gentle and honest voice. The poem may be dedicated to your mum, but, as you said in the pub, it’s something you could say about all mums. I certainly feel reminded of my own mother, who died not so long ago, when I read the poem.
Thanks for this beautiful poem.
Dear Keith ! Thank you very much. You read this poem when you were here in Groningen. It moves me each time I read or hear it. Nice talking to you on the phone yesterday. All the best, yours, Henk
Thanks Keith - you moved me.
The Bird Woman of Whitley is a lovely poem, Keith. Beautiful tribute.
You amazing poet YOU
- thank you for that that poem - it deserves a very good moment, but I will translate it.
Keep sending them!
Good poem, Keith
Thank you, Keith, thank you –
For bringing a fulsome tear to my eye with the sad and beautifully-crafted The Bird Woman of Whitley. How amazingly coincidental and serendipitous that you should have numbered me amongst those privileged to receive it because, just this afternoon, I have put in the post to you my Christmas book (in Irish) An Nollaig sa Naigín (Christmas in the Noggin [my homeplace]), which has in it the story Céad Sneachta na Nollag (First Christmas Snow), which features my own mother feeding two birds, they being the Robin and the Wren!!!!
Bravo, my friend, and thank you for giving me the delight of reading so beautiful a poem.
Thats a nice poem Keith. Is that lady really your mum?
Thanks for sending me this beautiful poem. It really moved me. I have a special Mother too, she hasn't a selfish thought in her body.
Hi Keith loved the poem
Thanks for your beautiful poem Keith. I must write something special to my mum.
Posted by keith armstrong at 9:03 am