HE'S BACK FROM TUEBINGEN!

HE'S BACK FROM TUEBINGEN!

18.4.14

13.4.14

POETRY AT/ON THE WINDING STAIR, DUBLIN!

The Winding Stair, 40 Lower Ormond Quay, Dublin

I'll be reading my poetry here on Wednesday June 18th from 6pm with Noel Duffy and James W. Wood




12.4.14

LIKE THE SPANISH CITY


The days have gone;
the laughter and shrieks
blown away.
We have all grown up,
left old Catalonian dreams 
and the blazing seaside bullfights.
We are dazed,
phased out.
Spaces where we courted
bulldozed
to make way
for the tack of tomorrow;
the hope in the sea breeze;
the distant echo of castanets
and voices scraping
in a dusty rotunda.
I remember where I kissed you,
where I lost you.
It was in Spain, wasn’t it?
Or was it down the Esplanade
on a wet Sunday in July?
Either way,
we are still
twinned with sunny Whitley Bay,
and flaming Barcelona too;
and our lives
will dance in fading photographs
from the pleasure dome,
whenever we leave home.



KEITH ARMSTRONG



































GARCIA LORCA IN WHITLEY BAY

I’ve come to devour your mouth
and dry you off by the hair
into the seashells of daybreak.’
(Federico Garcia Lorca)

In the rotunda,
your voice lashes out at war.
You 
sing 
on the crests of the girls,
streaming up the Esplanade.
You
scream under a parasol of gulls,
skimming through the fairground,
on a mission to strangle
flying fish.
Haunting poetry 
in the dead ghost train,
the palms of the fortune-tellers, 
dust.

Lorca in a broken-down ghost town,
scattering your petals:
Garcia up against the wall
of last night,
eyes shot;
blood from the evening sky,
dripping down an ice cream cone,
down a sweet lass’s blouse.

Saw you on the Metro, Federico,
saw you in Woolworth’s.
Saw you in the crematorium,
on Feather’s caravan site.
Saw you drown
in a sea of lyrical beauty.

Lorca,
like Community,
you are gone;
ideals
torn into coastal shreds.

Still shells 
glisten,
lips on the beach
ready
for kissing again
ready
for the re-launch
of childish dreams,                                                                 
sticky 
with candy floss                                                                                                                    
and cuckoo spit.
                                                                                                  



KEITH ARMSTRONG



The Spanish City, Whitley Bay.



                                                                                                                    


10.4.14

TUEBINGEN IN SPRING!


Hi Keith,

Keep going the good and important work!



Mit herzlichen Grüßen aus Tübingen
Otto Buchegger



























photos: Peter Dixon

1.4.14

THE ARMSTRONG ARCHIVE!


Durham University Library Special Collections Catalogue



http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb33-arm
http://reed.dur.ac.uk/xtf/view?docId=ead/lit/armstrgk.xml


Vastly impressive - a tribute to your industry and tenacity!



(Rodney Pybus)

BLAUER SALON, TUEBINGEN




29.3.14

FOR MOTHER'S DAY - THE BIRD WOMAN OF WHITLEY






















Photo by Tony Whittle




THE BIRD WOMAN OF WHITLEY 

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.
Love
Brigitte

Hi Keith

Thanks for this beautiful poem.

Tim G

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.

All best
Chrissie

The Bird Woman of Whitley is a lovely poem, Keith.  Beautiful tribute.

Trish.

You amazing poet YOU
- thank you for that that poem - it deserves a very good moment, but I will translate it.
Uwe

Lovely poem!
Keep sending them!

Julie

Good poem, Keith
Cheers
SallyE

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?


Mick

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. 

Cheers
Catherine Graham

Hi Keith loved the poem

Mike

Thanks for your beautiful poem Keith. I must write something special to my mum. 

Paul


THE BIRD WOMAN OF WHITLEY


She is out feeding the birds,
on the dot again,
in the drizzle of a seaside morning;
the seed 
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;
still giving,
still nursing.

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.

Thank you
for the strength of wings. 




KEITH ARMSTRONG


28.3.14

WEINHAUS BECK


Lyrik und Musik aus Durham und Tübingen 


20.30 Uhr Donnerstag, 3. April 2014

Weinhaus Beck, Am Markt 1,Tübingen 

Aus der Partnerstadt Durham:
Lyrik von Dr Keith Armstrong

Special Guests aus Tübingen: Eva Christina Zeller (Lyrik), Sara Hauser (Lyrik), Tibor Schneider (Lyrik) and Florian Neuner (Lyrik), Johanna Herdtfelder (Sänger) and Peter Weiß (Akkordeon)


Eintritt frei!




25.3.14

FREE THINKING POEMS




























FOLK SONG FOR THOMAS SPENCE
(1750-1814)
Down by the old Quayside,
I heard a young man cry,
among the nets and ships he made his way.
As the keelboats buzzed along,
he sang a seagull’s song;
he cried out for the Rights of you and me.
Oh lads, that man was Thomas Spence,
he gave up all his life
just to be free.
Up and down the cobbled Side,
struggling on through the Broad Chare,
he shouted out his wares
for you and me.
Oh lads, you should have seen him gan,
he was a man the likes you rarely see.
With a pamphlet in his hand,
and a poem at his command,
he haunts the Quayside still
and his words sing.
His folks they both were Scots,
sold socks and fishing nets,
through the Fog on the Tyne they plied their trade.
In this theatre of life,
the crying and the strife,
they tried to be decent and be strong.
Oh lads, that man was Thomas Spence,
he gave up all his life
just to be free.
Up and down the cobbled Side,
struggling on through the Broad Chare,
he shouted out his wares
for you and me.
Oh lads, you should have seen him gan,
he was a man the likes you rarely see.
With a pamphlet in his hand,
and a poem at his command,
he haunts the Quayside still
and his words sing.
KEITH ARMSTRONG
(from the music-theatre piece ‘Pig’s Meat’ written for Bruvvers Theatre Company)




IN THE DEPARTMENT OF POETRY
‘Our paths may cross again, they may not. But I wish you success for the future. I don’t think you are a person who is easily defeated through life as you are by nature a peacock which shows at times its beautiful feathers.’ (Margaretha den Broeden)
In the Department of Poetry something is stirring:
it is a rare bird shitting on a heap of certificates.
He bears the beautiful plumage of a rebel,
flying through the rigid corridors,
the stifling pall of academic twaddle.
He pecks at the Masters’ eggheads,
scratches pretty patterns along the cold walls of poetic power.
He cares not a jot for their fancy Awards,
their sycophantic perambulations,
degrees of literary incest.
These trophies for nepotism
pass this peculiar bird by
as he soars
high
above the paper quadrangle,
circling over the dying Heads of Culture,
singing sweet revolutionary songs,
showing off
his brilliant wings
that fly him
into the ecstasy
of a poem.
KEITH ARMSTRONG




AN OUBLIETTE FOR KITTY
There’s a hole in this Newcastle welcome,
there’s a beggar with a broken spine.
On Gallowgate, a heart is broken
and the ships have left the Tyne.
So what becomes of this History of Pain?
What is there left to hear?
The kids pour down the Pudding Chare lane
and drown a folksong in beer.
So here is an oubliette for you, Kitty,
somewhere to hide your face.
The blood is streaming from fresh wounds in our city
and old scars are all over the place.
There’s this dirt from a history of darkness
and they’ve decked it in neon and glitz.
There are traders in penthouse apartments
on the Quayside where sailors once pissed.
So where are Hughie and Tommy, Kitty?,
the ghosts of Geordies past?
I don’t want to drown you in pity
but I saw someone fall from the past.
So here is an oubliette for you, Kitty,
somewhere to hide your face.
The blood is streaming from fresh wounds in our city
and old scars are all over the place.
While they bomb the bridges of Belgrade,
they hand us a cluster of Culture
and tame Councillors flock in on a long cavalcade
to tug open the next civic sculpture.
And who can teach you a heritage?
Who can learn you a poem?
We’re lost in a difficult, frightening, age
and no one can find what was home.
So here is an oubliette for you, Kitty,
somewhere to hide your face.
The blood is streaming from fresh wounds in our city
and old scars are all over the place.
So here is an oubliette for you, Kitty,
somewhere to hide your face.
The blood is streaming from fresh wounds in our city
and old scars are all over the place.
KEITH ARMSTRONG


TELL ME LIES ABOUT NORTHUMBERLAND
(in honour of Adrian Mitchell)

Say this land is ours,
these pipe-tunes do not cry.
The birds all sing in dialect,
old miners breathe like dukes.

Tell me lies about Northumberland.

Tell me it isn’t feudal,
that castles were built for us.
We never touch the forelock,
bend to scrape up dust.

Tell me lies about Northumberland.

Your pretty girls don’t stink of slaughter,
your eyes don’t blur with myth.
You’re as equal as a duchess,
saints never smell of piss.

Tell me lies about Northumberland.

Your roots are in this valley,
you were never from doon south.
You never hide your birthplace,
you’re a real poet of the north.

Tell me lies about Northumberland.

The churches are not crumbling,
the congregations glow with hope.
We are different from the foreigner,
our poetry rhymes with wine.

Tell me lies about Northumberland.

There is no landed gentry,
no homes locals can’t afford.
There’s no army on the moors,
the Romans freed us all.

Tell me lies about Northumberland.

That the hurt is in the past,
the future holds no war.
Home rule is at our fingertips,
the Coquet swims with love.

Tell me lies about Northumberland.

‘The Garden’ is our children’s,
Hotspur spurs us on.
The seagulls are not soaked in oil,
the cows are not diseased.

Tell me lies about Northumberland.
This Kingdom is United,
‘Culture’ is our God.
Everyone’s a Basil Bunting freak,
there’s music everywhere.

Tell me lies about Northumberland.

We will have our independence,
we’ll get the Gospels back.
We live off museums and tourists,
we don’t need boats or trades.

Tell me lies about Northumberland.

We’re in charge of our own futures,
we have north east citizens here.
In this autonomous republic,
we’re free as dicky birds.

So shut your eyes.

And tell me lies

about Northumberland.




KEITH ARMSTRONG









FAT MAN LODGED ON DOG LEAP STAIRS

He pounded the cobbles
of the Castle Garth,
bowling along
with his brain hanging over his neck
and his belly
looming over his huge pants.
His overeducated head
weighed a ton
and bore down
on an arse
fattened on home- made pies.
He was carrying a plan
for the working classes
but forgot his heart was too small,
dwarfed by his huge mouth
and an expensive ego.
He had a board meeting to go to,
the big fart,
and he sweated grants
as he blundered along
to the narrow alley.
He was far too broad of beam really
but he was late for everything,
including his funeral,
and thrust his plates of meat
onto the slippery steps.
History closed in on him,
the Black Gate,
the Keep,
as if to tell him
it wasn’t his,
as if to say
‘get out of my town’.
He squeezed himself onto this narrow stairway
and, like his poetry,
got stuck.
He coudn’t move
for his lack of lyricism.
The Fat Man
was firmly lodged
on Dog Leap Stairs
and the crows
began to gather
to swoop
and pick
the bloated power
from his face.





KEITH ARMSTRONG

the jingling geordie

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