Shreds of the UK
flapping in the downturn,
decayed Britain
broken into smithereens.
No Kingdom now,
no United State.
We are
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.
the hegemony
of dead parties,
lifeless institutions,
let debate flower,
conflicting views rage.

We want to breathe
and strip away
executive power,
the beauty and culture
of these islands
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 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.



Tuebingen (and a trace of coffee)
invades the edges of my agitated tongue
as I glide through the empty stools
of the moments gone
and the sensational waitress
picks at the tips
of those forgotten days,
the wasted breath
of political song.
I have lost something
that poems can’t define:
the warmth of my mother’s smile in the shivering moonlight,
the love of a lifetime
and the ways my young feet
ran along in the summer breezes.
But my friends (those who stand by me) I tell you 
I shall rise,
I shall rise again at Newcastle Airport
and greet the runways of Europe
with kisses fresh
with longing
for the ache of adventure,
an air hostess’s hand in mine
as I cling to the sunshine in her eyes
and the golden memories 
to force me to laugh again.




The partnership with County Durham and the City of Tuebingen in South Germany was established in 1969.  

Poet Doctor Keith Armstrong, who gained his doctorate at the University on Durham in 2007, following on from Bachelor's and Master's degrees there, first visited Tuebingen in November 1987, with the support of the County Council and the Kulturamt in Tuebingen, to give readings and talks there for a period of a month. Since then he has travelled to the city over 30 times and helped arrange for Durham poets, musicians and artists and their counterparts in Tuebingen to visit their respective cultural twins.

A special celebration of the literary/arts links between the cultural partners was held on May 17th 2015 at Tuebingen’s Club Voltaire as part of the Tuebingen Buecherfest.  This was arranged by poet Tibor Schneider, Michael Raffel of the Buecherfest and Doctor Armstrong. Those featured included Gary Miller,singer/songwriter from Durham band ‘The Whisky Priests’, poets Carolyn Murphey Melchers,  Sara Hauser, Anna Fedorova, Yannick Lengkeek and Tibor Schneider and rock musician Juergen Sturm with Mary Jane.

Keith Armstrong will revisit Tuebingen in October 2015 for readings.

He was also in Tuebingen from Tuesday 11th November 2014 to Saturday 15th when he performed his poetry in the legendary Heckenhauer’s Bookshop, one of his favourite bars The Boulanger, at the Carlo-Schmid-Gymnasium (school) and at Weinhaus Beck for a poetry breakfast. He was joined by Tibor Schneider, Sara Hauser, Yannick Lengkeek and Anna Fedorova with Peter Weiss on accordion and Juergen Sturm on rock guitar and vocals.

Before this, he was in Tuebingen from Wednesday 2nd to Saturday 5th April 2014 with artist/photographer Peter Dixon for readings with Tuebingen writers Eva Christina Zeller, Sara Hauser, Tibor Schneider and Florian Neuner at Weinhaus Beck, a school visit and other networking initiatives. This followed on from his visit from Monday 4th November to Thursday 7th 2013 when he took part in a major symposium on the theme of writer Hermann Hesse who lived and worked in Tuebingen from 1895-1899. As well as joining in with the discussions and giving a reading from his poems on Hesse and Tuebingen, Keith met with poets, academics, teachers, musicians, cultural and media workers.  

Sara Hauser visited Durham from Monday 12th to Thursday 15th May 2014 for sessions at the University's English and German Departments  and meetings with local writers, artists and musicians.

So the twinning continues to go from strength to strength. Looking back on things, Armstrong and folk rock musician Gary Miller, lead singer of Durham band the Whisky Priests, travelled to Tuebingen at the end of March 2012 for performances in pubs, cabaret venues and schools where they performed with Tuebingen poet Tibor Schneider who visited Durham in October of that year as part of the ongoing exchange. 
Tibor joined his Durham counterparts for readings at Durham University and at the Half Moon Inn. He was also interviewed on BBC Radio Tees concerning his Durham visit.

Keith Armstrong and Gary Miller returned the compliment with a trip to Tuebingen in March 2013 where they performed again in bars, cafes and schools with poets Tibor Schneider, Sara Hauser and Tuebingen musicians. 
In 2011, Tuebingen rock musician Juergen Sturm jetted in with his music partner Mary Jane at the end of October for pub gigs, including a twinning event in Durham on Monday 31st October featuring Juergen and Mary Jane with Durham folk musicians and poets. That followed on from a visit to Tuebingen in South Germany in early April 2011 by Keith Armstrong and photographer/artist Peter Dixon. The intrepid pair worked together on a touring display featuring Armstrong's poems and Dixon's photographs documenting the unique link between Tuebingen and Durham which was staged initially in the Durham Room at County Hall, Durham in November. Armstrong performed his poetry in cafes, bars and schools and met up with Tuebingen friends, old and new, with the multi-talented Dixon capturing all of it on film. 

This trip reciprocated a visit to Durham in November 2010 by Tuebingen poets Henning Ziebritzki and Carolyn Murphey Melchers, when Juergen Stuerm also took part in a series of pub performances. There was a special event at Clayport Library, Durham City on Monday November 1st with the Tuebingen poets and special guests from Durham, followed by a rousing session in the Dun Cow when Juergen, with Mary Jane, and his Durham counterparts, Gary Miller and Marie Little belted out their lively songs.

In addition to his most recent visit, Armstrong was in Tuebingen in May 2010 with Gary Miller for performances in his favourite Tuebingen bar ‘The Boulanger’ and at a local school. This followed a special guest appearance in 2009 at the biannual Book Festival, a reading with Tuebingen counterpart Eva Christina Zeller and a visit to local schools. Eva visited Durham for readings in schools and at a special event on May 13th 2009 at Clayport Library which also featured poets Katrina Porteous, Jackie Litherland, Cynthia Fuller, and William Martin, as well as Doctor Armstrong and music from the Durham Scratch Choir and Andy Jackson.

A highly successful series of events were held in 2007 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the literary/arts twinning established by Keith Armstrong when he first visited Tuebingen in 1987 for a month’s residency, supported by Durham County Council and Tuebingen’s Kulturamt. Since then, there have been readings and performances in pubs, universities and castles, schools, libraries, book festivals, jazz and cabaret clubs, even in Hermann Hesse’s old apartment, involving poets, writers, teachers and musicians from the twin partnerships of Durham and Tuebingen.
Tuebingen’s music duo Acoustic Storm, poet/translator Carolyn Murphey Melchers and Cultural Officer visited Durham and the North East in October/November 2007. The musicians performed in Durham schools and pubs and there was a special evening in Durham’s Clayport Library to celebrate the twinning, with Keith Armstrong launching his new Tuebingen poetry booklet and performances by poets Carolyn Murphey Melchers, Katrina Porteous, William Martin, Michael Standen, Ian Horn, Cynthia Fuller, Hugh Doyle and musicians Acoustic Storm, Marie Little and Gary Miller. Margit Aldinger of the Kulturamt in Tuebingen and Brian Stobie of the International Department, Durham County Council, also addressed the audience.

For the record, here's a list of those who have made it happen so far:

Tuebingen visitors to Durham since 1987:

Carolyn Murphey Melchers, Karin Miedler, Gerhard Oberlin, Uwe Kolbe, Johannes Bauer, Eva Christina Zeller, Simone Mittmann, Florian Werner, Juergen Sturm, Mary Jane, Wolf Abromeit, Christopher Harvie, Eberhard Bort, Marcus Hammerschmitt, Henning Ziebritzki, Andy and Alessandra Fazion Marx, Otto Buchegger, Tibor Schneider, Sara Hauser.

Durham visitors to Tuebingen since 1987:
Keith Armstrong, Michael Standen, Julia Darling, Andy Jackson, Fiona MacPherson, Katrina Porteous, Marie Little, Ian Horn, Alan C. Brown, Linda France, Jackie Litherland, Cynthia Fuller, Margaret Wilkinson, Jez Lowe, Jack Routledge, Gary Miller, Matthew Burge, David Stead, Hugh Doyle, Peter Dixon.

These events were supported by Tuebingen’s Kulturamt and Durham County Council.




Hookey Walker’s Farewell to Shields

South Shields Museum and Art Gallery, Ocean Road, South Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE33 2JA
Performance by poet Dr Keith Armstrong of the atmospheric narrative poem describing the state of South Shields in 1852 written by former Shields gazette Editor William Brockie (1811-1890), together with a short selection of other poetry by Brockie. The rendition will be accompanied by sea shanties performed by South Shields folk heroes 'The Ancient Mariners'. All those attending will receive a Hooky Walker souvenir broadsheet at the performance.

Opening Times

  • Thursday 10 September: Performance 1200

Booking Details

Pre-booking: Required
Booking essential.
Booking Contact: South Shields Museum and Art Gallery
Go to: https://www.ticketsource.co.uk/event/93181
Booking opens: 1 August 2015 09:00
Booking closes: 9 September 2015 17:00

Additional information

Max 40 people per tour/session.


Organised by

Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums

The Geordie Lamp: Celebrating the Stephenson Legacy

Cafe MyPlace, White Swan Centre, Citadel East, Killingworth, Tyne & Wear, NE12 6SS
A special event organised by Northern Voices Community Projects to mark the 200th anniversary of the invention of the 'Geordie' mining safety lamp by George Stephenson. The event will include readings from 'North Tyneside Steam', the recently published book by Dr Keith Armstrong and Peter Dixon which tells the story of George Stephenson in Killingworth and North Tyneside and of steam railways in the area. Contributors to the book will perform their poems, stories and songs as well as new materials inspired by the 'Geordie Lamp'. They will be introduced by local poet Keith Armstrong with music from the Sawdust Jacks, Tony Morris and Gary Miller.

Opening Times

  • Friday: 1030-1130

Booking Details

No booking required

Additional information

North Tyneside Steam: This new book from Northern Voices Community Projects, was commissioned by North Tyneside Council in 2014, with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, It was published to mark the bicentenary of George Stephenson's steam locomotive Blucher and tells the story of its creator in Killingworth and North Tyneside and of steam railways in the area.
- See more at: http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/directory/town/Killingworth#sthash.1REJgolY.dpuf

Celebrating Newcastle’s Grainger Market - 180th Anniversary Event

Olivers Bistro-Cafe, Unit 14-15, Grainger Arcade, Grainger Market, Grainger Street, Newcastle upon Tyne , Tyne & Wear, NE1 5QQ
Join Northern Voices Community Projects in marking and celebrating the 180th Anniversary of Newcastle's iconic Grainger Market. Meet at Olivers Bistro-Cafe for poetry with Dr Keith Armstrong and Tyneside poets and music with The Sawdust Jacks.

Opening Times

  • Friday 11 September: 1230-1300

Booking Details

No booking required

Additional information

Meet at Olivers Bistro Cafe, Unit 14-15, Grainger Arcade, Grainger Market.


Organised by

Northern Voices Community Projects



She took her tunes
to the Queen:
Her Majesty
in the usual gracious way
but she was deaf
to the voices of the worker bees,
this songstress on the shoulder
as she curtseyed
and touched her forelock,
prostrating her craft
in front of Her Royal Highness
for all the World to see.
All the World
with all its own songs.



He died,
clinging on to his pen,
at six in the morning,
his usual stint.
He’d run out of anything to write about.
For years, he’d watched the world go by his study,
observing other people’s lives.
All he had to do was fill the page,
lacking in instinct,
without a history,
with no real vision of any particular community.

After all,
he knew he was
a writer,
a describer,
inscriber of someone else’s paving stones.
An expert on poetry,
with nothing much at all
to say.




My God,
we are
indeed lucky,
in this great and ancient city,
to have,
in our presence,
such a poet as you.
it even seems
that you
are bigger than us,
with your huge dome
our history.
Such an immense
and supreme
larger than the space
in Grainger Market.
And, when it comes to writing up our story,
we, of course,
must turn to you,
with your flawless technique
and structured craft,
turn to you
in our peasant
though we have folk songs,
they cannot do justice
to the language
like you,
above all,
next time,
before we break
into song,
we should ask you
to subject our voices
to your analysis.
But then
I don’t think,
in your padded academic tower,
that you can hear us all
in the trees,
your lonely window.


the jingling geordie

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