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

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

28.2.17

LA CONCHA WINE BAR, LETCHWORTH GARDEN CITY








































It is forbidden to dream again;
We maim our joys or hide them. (George Orwell)

An unseasonal sun
fires the little socialist in me.
Just off the train
and staight into the red wine
in the La Concha Bar. 
My first time in Letchworth
and such a thirst
for deeper knowledge
in this Garden City.
I’m in Orwell’s footsteps,
no street bears his name,
my brain
strides in his shade,
on his way to a Summer School
and to war in Spain.
I’m keeping that aspidistra flying
in the torment,
scanning the Letchworth Citizen
for any news of the Labour Party 
turning left.
I will announce myself
to the girls in the garden,
go red in the afternoon,
sneak into David’s Bookshop
for a preview of the blueprint
of the new dawn.
For now,
this day is dancing
flamenco in the warm skies
of flown illusions.
Let us create
a festival for George 
in the prickly heat
of a place 
where ideals 
lie gathering bluebottles
on a traffic island
while castanets flicker 
like precious minutes 
spent
in Barcelona.

KEITH ARMSTRONG

Letchworth Garden City, September 2012

A lovely day and a superb meal we enjoyed there! (Peter Common)





21.2.17

LEAVING FRIENDS/FRIENDS LEAVING


































 

(in memory of Paddy Bort)


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 with Hades bar
and the old man
from the Boulanger;
Mick has flown
to the heavens,
now Paddy has fallen,
with 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


Allan Savage I've just been reading your excellent memory to Paddy Bort and came across your farewell to my best friend Jack Routledge. It really brought a tear to my eye. I think about Jack very often and the good times we had singing together. I can remember when Jack and you went to Germany, and how he was so excited when telling me about your trip. Thanks again Keith.

Cath Campbell Ah, Keith. Ah, Godammit. You made me cry. Beautiful poem. Brought my own memories of the gone ones roaring back. 

Harry Gallagher Lovely stuff Keith. 

Tom Hubbard Many thanks for your moving tribute to dear Paddy. I was recalling these days in Freudenstadt, so long ago now. All the best from us in Scotland.

Gerhard Oberlin Thanks, Keith, excellent. I hardly knew him, but remember well.

19.2.17

PADDY BORT - RIP









































George Gunn: 

Paddy Bort dead?! That seems impossible. Paddy, for so many of us, made life possible.

A hole the size of Arthur’s Seat is in the Edinburgh folk scene today. It is with the deepest, utmost sadness that I impart the news of the sudden death of our old friend, colleague and comrade, Eberhard ‘Paddy’ Bort, long-time stalwart of Edinburgh Folk Club, the Wee Folk Club and the Phoenix Irish Pub, Lauffen.
 

I’ve known Paddy since I was 18 years old; Paddy and I came to Edinburgh within a year of each other in the mid-1990s. As such he was very much part of my own personal landscape musically and socially and today I am in total shock at the loss of someone who had such an influence in my early days as a young musician, starting up the ladder and beginning to travel across Europe.

Paddy was in a sense the archetypal ‘welcome stranger’ who came to Scotland from his native Germany to shine a bright light on our cultural riches that we have often been backwards in coming forwards about. A confirmed Hibernophile and Scotophile, hundreds of us in the folk scene have had floor spots and gigs at all stages of our careers from Paddy, benefitting from his drive and enthusiasm.

He gave Malinky their first floor spots, including one which got us our record deal with Greentrax Recordings Ltd, and booked our first ever big city gig. He spent hours with me discussing the topic of my undergraduate dissertation on the the phenomenon of Scottish and Irish traditional music’s popularity in German-speaking areas; he himself was very much bitten by the bug, and took Malinky and countless others to play on his home turf, the Phoenix in Lauffen am Neckar.

Flitting between his office at High School Yards, the Royal Oak and his flat in Nicolson St, Paddy never stopped. By day, he was a renowned academic at the University of Edinburgh, bringing hundreds if not thousands of students to Scotland to study the path of devolution. Working with Nordic Horizons, the Jimmy Reid Foundation and the Scottish Fabians amongst others, he championed the cause of local democracy, inspired by the democratic traditions of local representation in his home area in Baden-Württemberg. He authored and edited numerous volumes on Scottish and European politics and was widely respected in his field; some of the earliest books of his that I have were from the late 90s on Borders and Borderlands in Europe and the intricacies of the Schengen agreement. It is particularly tragic at this point in European history that we lose someone of his expertise.

He was, in essence, the ultimate European.

Over the past 15 years or so, Paddy was also hugely instrumental in securing the legacy of Hamish Henderson, through setting up The Carrying Stream Festival, as well as involvement with the Hamish Henderson Archive Trust, and edited numerous vital publications on Hamish with Gonzalo Mazzei and Grace Note Publications. He was kind enough to be, in the context of one of those volumes, my first publisher, so to speak.

Some of my happiest memories are the days of the Royal Oak plays back when I had time enough to spend as a regular in that real howff that was the Oak in the late 90s, where Paddy’s love of Irish literature came to the fore – not least the works of Flann O’Brien. I particularly enjoyed times with him in the Phoenix in Lauffen where he was on great form, relaxed and very much ‘daheim’.

There's plenty I've missed out - as he has done so much for so many of us, and for Scotland, und für Europa. The saddest part is not having been able to tell him just how grateful we are. Auf wiedersehen, und herzlichen Dank, mein Freund. 


STEVE BYRNE

18.2.17

GORDON PHILLIPS - TYNESIDE POET (1949 - 2017): IN MEMORIAM






























































Gordon Phillips – Tyneside Poet



I first met Gordon in the early 1970s, both of us “incumdons” to the North East, he from St. Albans while I’d arrived from Burnley. It was poetry that brought us together as active members of The Tyneside Poets.

We shared the ethos of taking poetry away from the self-regarding circles of academe and the cliques to encourage a wider participation. At the same time we developed and honed our own poetic voices.

Gordon’s verse always had a strong musical current pulsing through it and he went on to work with composers to produce work that was lyrical and had strong strains of North Eastern traditions and heritage running through it.

True to the belief in encouraging others we worked together on two anthologies of young people’s poetry under a small press imprint, Pivot Press. For the first one we had a goodly number of contributions and the detailed planning of the anthology was well underway. What we didn’t have was a title. Then Gordon received an envelope with a couple of good poems in it.

The accompanying letter also proved significant. The boy, early teens, was enthusiastic about the possibility of having a poem or two published. However, he was somewhat concerned about how he might be perceived by his peers. This led him to write that he’d be really pleased if we used one of his poems but, “…don’t tell my friends.” Both editions of “Don’t Tell My Friends” were very successful.

Before I left Tyneside in 2012 Gordon had been showing me a poetic project he was working on with St. Mary’s lighthouse in Whitley Bay as its focus. Recently, almost five years later he gave me a copy of the CD, “The Square and Compass”: the project was completed and set to music. A grand piece of work.

Unfortunately, the CD has been followed far too quickly with bad news. On Sunday, 5th February 2017, the illness Gordon had alerted me to finally claimed him. Perhaps it is always too soon, but this is truly so. On my last visit with him he told me of other projects he still had in mind and I had hoped he might at least be able to bring some of them to fruition. It is not to be.

However, as a poet his voice, Gordon’s words, will live on. It was poetry that brought us together, sustained our long friendship and will remain to speak to me.


Dave Alton




POEM FOR GORDON (1949-2017)


Across a Fenham avenue,
through the pools of stars in your eyes,
the seering light of your vision,
I saw your finely hewed words running towards me,
a crystal stream
tearing along these Newcastle lanes.
We tripped along together
in huddled poetry readings,
throbbing public houses
and ancient mansions,
searching for images
to make our days
brighter,
longing for a folk song
to drink with
in the approaching darkness.
Searching,
always searching,
for the right words
to sing to our loved ones,
we crossed the sea
to fulfil our dreams
from the flat land of East Anglia
into the arms of Scandinavia,
returning with that smile of yours
still intact,
beaming with the sun
breaking up the clouds
on any dogged northern day
in your adopted home,
lending a sparkle to Grainger Street,
a twinkle to our beer;
the joy of a lasting friend,
the spilt dreams
forever flowing with us.


 

KEITH ARMSTRONG




THE TREATMENT BELL (GORDON'S FINAL POEM)

 

On the side wall, beside the reception

hangs the treatment bell,

pristine, silver,

its shine an encouraging glow.



Before it, hopeful patients sit.

The next ringer strikes a note for them all:

a customary three times

for an end of plan toll,

excitement measured in the hammering and applause.

 



Gordon Phillips, 18th December 2016


Note from Maureen Phillips:

The first time Gordon and I heard the three rings of the bell was on his first visit to the Department of Radiation Oncology for consultative purposes to evaluate and determine his most optional treatment.  

The inscription on the bell is:
Ring this bell
Three times well
It's toll to clearly say
My treatment's done
This course is run
And I am on my way

 



FOR THOMAS BEWICK

 

In your precious art you raised
delicate species fresh, alive
with every searching niche of blade,
on metalled tints of bone
in flesh, conceived.

Today, our clear eye can review
that aggregate of animals
and speading plants which grew;
now your thoughts to Cherryburn
are our adoption.

Through sludge of field flung back
from my drag of parting feet,
crossing rutted rural lands
you swept in light and shade,
a lock of trees
inside a border to engrave.


 

Gordon Phillips

(as read by Dave Alton at Gordon's funeral on Thursday 16th February 2017 at St Robert of Newminster Roman Catholic Church,  Newcastle upon Tyne)

15.2.17

I LOVE THE LIGHT IN TUEBINGEN




 































I love the light
in Tuebingen
streaming down Marktgasse,
flooding in my beautiful blue eyes.

In this light,
I see
the good times
I have dwelt in here
over the bowling years:

the chemistry of Goethe,
the love of books
and poetry that sings
with the joyous swifts,
screeches with
the very pain of life.

This town
casts a glow
in me,
throws me lifelines
to write with,
fishing for ideas
in the sweeping river:

boats
of finished pamphlets
nodding at me
in the sunshine.

I love the light
in Tuebingen
streaming down Marktgasse,
flooding in my beautiful blue eyes.



KEITH ARMSTRONG

10.2.17

AFTER THE UK
















































Shreds of the UK
flapping in the downturn,
decayed Britain
broken into smithereens.
No Kingdom now,
no United State.
We are
citizens
with no obligation
to genuflect
in front of an overstuffed Queen.

Get the UK out of your system,
no going back.
We take the power
to rule ourselves,
make community,
build our own spaces.
Break
the hegemony
of dead parties,
lifeless institutions,
let debate flower,
conflicting views rage.

We want to breathe
and strip away
executive power,
share
the beauty and culture
of these islands
around.
Make good things,
good love.
Empower ourselves
with an autonomous freedom
in a new England,
in a new Europe,
in a New World
of real ownership
and delicate emotion.




KEITH ARMSTRONG

4.2.17

VAN GOGH


(1)

Years ago Van Gogh the marksman
hijacked a low flying plane and
forced its pilot to fly to the sun:

a few Dutch masterpieces were all that survived,
a few flakes of experience,

sunlight
trapped on the wing.


(2)*

His canvas bleeds,
black gun lies frozen by his side.
His heart falls
broken
from the butcher's cart,
slides
onto the infested street
and in his paint
metal vultures skid,
Van Gogh
stirring it up again.


*The original inspiration for this poem came from a chance observation of what looked like a sheep's heart lying in the middle of a Newcastle street. Evidently fallen debris from a passing vehicle, its blood spattered the road as cars darted over and around it. The following quotation from Artaud's essay 'Van Gogh, the man suicided by society' discovered shortly after the completion of the poem is also relevant: 'Van Gogh was terribly sensitive. To be convinced of this just look at his seemingly panting face, which is also, from certain angles, the spellbinding face of a butcher.'



KEITH ARMSTRONG

2.2.17

SKY THE GUIDE DOG


























Sky is a guide dog.
He will lick you
into light.
His eyes are pools of sparks.
He is a star hound.

Sky leads us across the universal fields,
opens up the lids of daydreams,
teaches us to feel
those tender rays.

Sky’s vista runs deep,
shows up a braille galaxy.
In this cold, blind dark,
we follow his moonlit trail.
We marry our lonely visions with his
and see
heaven.




KEITH ARMSTRONG


Heather Wood Oh Keith that's lovely. Thanks for sharing. Xx

1.2.17

DR KEITH ARMSTRONG - TRAVELLING POET!

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



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

Here's a random list of all the places where I've performed my poetry over the years!:



 


ROUND BRITAIN & IRELAND

Cheltenham
Glossop
Manchester
Liverpool
Sheffield
Bolton
York
Leeds
Harrogate
Lincoln
Lancaster
Leicester
Leigh
Burnley
Shrewsbury
Boston
Kidderminster
Bristol
London (Greenwich) (Little Turnstile, Holborn)
Preston
Alnwick
Berwick
Spittal
Wooler
Alnmouth
Beadnell
Bamburgh
Newbiggin
Morpeth
Castle Eden
Blyth
Middlesbrough
Stockton
Kilburn
Richmond (Yorkshire)
Penrith
Carlisle
Lockerbie
Kendal
Preston
Stourbridge
Hexham
Haydon Bridge
Haltwhistle
North Shields
South Shields
Tynemouth
Whitley Bay
Killingworth
Cramlington
Percy Main
Gateshead
Blaydon
Peterlee
Easington
South Hetton
Seaham
Hartlepool
Darlington
Durham
Newcastle upon Tyne
Byker
Loughborough
Leicester
Louth
Houghton le Spring
Sunderland
Washington
Chester le Street
Kendal
Ledbury
Bradford
Edinburgh
Aberdeen
Norham
Druridge Bay

Low Newton by the Sea
Cullercoats
Wallsend
Newburn
Jesmond
Heaton
Scotswood
Gosforth
Kenton
Seahouses
Bridgnorth
Telford
Liverpool
Tamworth
Hebburn
Jarrow
South Hetton
Stanley
Consett
Pelton Fell
Trimdon
Spennymoor
Fishburn
Thornley
Crook
Willington
BishopAuckland
No Place

Douglas, Isle of Man


Limerick
Dublin
Cork
Galway
Fermoy
Kinvara

Belfast


DUTCH TOURING

Amsterdam

Delft

Leeuwarden

Den Helder

The Hague

Rotterdam

Maastricht

Venlo

Katwijk

Groningen

Haren

Utrecht

Breda

Eindhoven

Hilversum

Tilburg


GERMAN TOURING

Hamburg

Stuttgart

Trier

Frankfurt

Neckartenzlingen

Freudenstadt

Melchingen

Lauffen

Nordenham

Tuebingen

Reutlingen

Kiel

Oldenberg

Stockach



ELSEWHERE IN EUROPE

Moscow,
Leningrad,
Rustavi, Tblisi (Georgia)
Molle, Sweden
Elsinore, Denmark
Amiens, Strasbourg, France
Prague
Gothenburg


Reykjavik


CULTURAL VISITS

Poland - Warsaw, Zakopane, Wroclaw, Poznan, Crakow, Lublin
Luxemburg
Salzburg
Milan
Germany - East and West Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Meissen, Spremberg, Lake Constance, Luebeck, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Munich, Garmisch
France - Paris, Halluin, Lille, Ivry-sur-Seine
Bulgaria - Varna, Sofia, Rila, Tvardica
Greece - Thessaloniki, Volos, Argalasti, Delphi
Oslo
Yugoslavia - Porec, Pula

WORLD

Kenya  - Nairobi, Naivasha, Nakuru, Mombasa
Cuba - Havana, Santiago da Cuba, Matanzas, Varederos
Kingston, Jamaica

the jingling geordie

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