THE JOYS OF TUEBINGEN!

THE JOYS OF TUEBINGEN!

26.8.14

SWAN HUNTER VIKING



































I am more inclined
to prowl the Jules Verne lanes of Amiens
or the backstreets of a Brecht Berlin
than shank the Black Mountains
of the massive States.
My nose points dripping cold 
from Shields to Scandinavia;
my battered cheeks reek of North Sea cod.
Instincts lead me to Munch and to Courbet,
to Hasek and De Nerval.
This Geordie’s inspiration comes alive
in translations of teeming Oslo streets
or dark Prenzlauer Berg cobbles
not from the vomit of the sprawling Bowery.
Baltic folk tunes still whistle in my ears.
I get the ghettoblaster belt of Smetena
clearer than the wail of Dylan.
The sexy accordions of Montmartre are in my blood.
I face this way:
my poetry sings with euro-balladry;
my feet itch with traditional rhymes:
border ballads in The Blink Bonny,
fiddles leaping in Sandy Bell’s.
I am no modernist.
I see my footprints in the snowy past
on the Old Tyne Bridge,
or outside a bar in Reykjavik
or on an icy lake of vodka.
Pushkin floats in my dreams,
Verlaine is on my lips,
and Rimbaud hammers knives inside my brain.
I cannot swim in Atlantic water,
only the German Sea will do.
I think my father built me Northern ships,
a Swan Hunter Viking
raiding the flooded dictionary of my soul.
I happily drift across the square in wintery Groningen,
smoke myself silly on Prinsengracht
and leap with light at Oeteldonk.
I once skipped school with boys in Heaton
and licked the breasts of Ipswich Jenny.
At home I am always 
dabbling my naked feet in lovely sand,
my fingers wet with new poems.
Think on Northumbrian bards,
my fellow country gents,
I tell you now
that I would rather die dead drunk
in a pool of Swinburne’s wine
than in a frozen field
of Bunting. 



KEITH ARMSTRONG

'Outlining vividly (and beautifully) the east-west divide! Those of us who grew up in landscapes dug by the Flemish, walking streets amongst Danes, and Russians and Germans; who went to school alongside Dutch kids and shared the despair of lost trawlers.'  

Paul Davenport






25.8.14

THE TYNESIDE POETS - THOSE WERE THE DAYS!


FOR MARIEKE



























I always thought
that, when you smiled,
Groningen seemed a prettier place
to me
and the Grote Markt,
beneath my unsteady feet,
hugged me
like my father did
in his strong and quiet way.
It is always good,
when I am travelling,
to know
that I have friends
in many strange and different cities
and keys to many doors.
For nothing is ever fixed
or permanent.
Smiles are only fleeting
but one like yours
shines bright
in the very beer of sunlight;
especially,
in the anxious heart
of this Newcastle poet.




KEITH ARMSTRONG


22.8.14

TYNESIDE SONS


HERITAGE OPEN DAYS 2014

TYNESIDE SONS: A CELEBRATION OF THOMAS SPENCE & THOMAS BEWICK

Join the Thomas Spence Trust and Northern Voices Community Projects in marking and celebrating the bicentenary of Thomas Spence (1750-1814). On September 11th 2014, poems, stories and songs will be performed at the site of the Spence plaque on Broad Garth at 14.00 and then readings from his work and that of his friend and sparring partner Thomas Bewick with poems and songs inspired by both of them will be performed at the Red House, Newcastle at 19.30 (over 18s only).

HERITAGE OPEN DAYS THURSDAY 11TH TO SUNDAY 14TH SEPTEMBER 2014

TYNESIDE SON: THOMAS SPENCE 1750-1814

A display of books and documents to mark the bicentenary of Newcastle born Thomas Spence who died in London in 1814. 

Level 6, Newcastle City Library, Charles Avison Building, 33 New Bridge Street West, Newcastle upon Tyne.



http://www.made-in-britain.org.uk/directory/north-east-odes-and-pit-poems-by-northern-voices-community-projects



Breviary Stuff is pleased to announce...
Thomas Spence: The Poor Man's Revolutionary
Edited by Alastair Bonnett & Keith Armstrong
paperback • 156x234mm • ISBN 978-0-9570005-9-9
*To be published in September 2014.
2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of an important and original voice in the history of radicalism: Thomas Spence. Spence described himself as ‘the poor man’s advocate’ but he may equally be described as ‘the poor man’s revolutionary’, for what he advocated was a dramatic over-turning of the existing social order.
Perhaps Spence can be best summed up one of the inscriptions he placed on one of his self-minted coins, the coin his friends chose to place in his coffin. It depicts a cat. It stares straight out at us, around it the words, ‘IN SOCIETY LIVE FREE LIKE ME’. Spence wasn’t interested in compromise, with reforms and half-freedoms. He was stubborn. Contemporaries described him as ‘querulous’ and ‘single-minded’. One obituary also observed he was ‘despised’, yet ‘not despicable’.
But who was Thomas Spence? And why did he excite such passions? This collection of essays seeks to go some way to find answers to these questions. It offers a series of insights from contemporary experts on different aspects of Spence’s life and times. We are also delighted to be publishing some pamphlets by Spence himself, including Property in Land Every One’s Right, which has not been in print since it first appeared over 230 years ago.
Spence’s story is a rags to rags tale of defiance and ingenuity. Today Spence’s name is little known but this in no way reflects his significance. In the first two decades of the nineteenth century it was synonymous with ultra-radical opinion. Thomas Spence was the subject of four contemporary biographical memoirs. Moreover, three years after his death an Act of Parliament was passed prohibiting ‘All societies or clubs calling themselves Spencean or Spencean Philanthropists’. Spenceanism appears to be unique: it has a good claim to be the only political ideology to have ever been outlawed by the British Parliament.
Spence’s scheme for local and democratic ownership of the land found a receptive audience within sections of the labouring poor. In 1817 Thomas Malthus observed that, ‘an idea has lately prevailed among the lower classes of society that the land is the people’s farm, the rent of which ought to be divided equally among them’. This, in a nutshell, is ‘Spence’s Plan’. It sounds simple but it carried profound economic claims. It was a message spread more by way of tavern meetings, chalked graffiti and ballads than by published treatise.
In 1787 Spence moved to London, setting up a bookshop on Chancery Lane. He plunged himself into the capital’s turbulent radical sub-culture. He sold Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man and went to prison for doing so. But he disagreed with Paine on a number of fundamental issues. Paine had no qualms about private property in land. Spence began issuing a penny weekly, Pigs’ Meat or, Lessons for the Swinish Multitude, which could hardly have been more inflammatory. Spence was taking considerable risks in a dangerous city: spies, threats and conspiracy swirled around him.
Spence’s wish for ‘perfect freedom’ often took him one step further than his peers. He accorded women equal democratic rights. For the time it was a daring idea but Spence went even further. For what about the rights of children? Spence’s The Rights of Infants no doubt provoked more than a few incredulous smiles when it was published in 1796. Yet cruelty towards children was a topic Spence returned to time and again and it is fitting that today he is cited as one of the world’s first champions of children’s rights.
He was an angry man, a revolutionary and an insurrectionist but he was anchored by humanitarian concerns and a wide-ranging, omnivorous, interest in the betterment of his fellows. In this book we hope to go some way in retrieving Spence, of bringing him before a new generation.




Breviary Stuff Publications 
BCM Breviary Stuff 
London WC1N 3XX


18.8.14

STORM IN LEEUWARDEN














Never so swept with wind,
never so wet.
Our bones rattling in its carriages,
the train, blown across the fields,
tears into the heart of Leeuwarden,
a town freezing
with Frisian breath.

I came to sing
but my song was soaked
by the sobbing sky.
The whole country opened up
and drenched us
in a bitter history.

I had left my umbrella at home
to protect my friends
from the patter of Councillors.
Now I needed to shelter in a woman’s warmth,
read her my poems,
to make all her limbs
melt round me,

kiss me hard
in downtown Leeuwarden;

in all its wetness,
throw me roughly

to the wild land.




Keith Armstrong

17.8.14

JAMIE ALLAN (1734-1810)






















JUMPING JAMIE!

The poems below were written by Keith Armstrong for a touring show ‘O’er the Hills’ by Northumberland Theatre Company in 1988, recounting the life of Northumbrian Piper, Jamie Allan (1734-1810), and based on an original idea by Armstrong.
The show featured Armstrong in performance with associate writer Graeme Rigby together with  musicians Kathryn Tickell, on Northumbrian Pipes, Rick Taylor, on trombone, Paul Flush on keyboards, Keith Morris on vocals and saxophone and Joan McKay on vocals, with original music by Taylor, Flush and Tickell.



JUMPING JAMIE!

A mischievous man you might say
but with beauty did he play,
with his wee fingers
tripping
over songs.

When he piped,
the rivers and girls came
running.
The world danced
when Jamie drooled
on his lance.
Yes, when Jamie smoked,
the salmon
leapt in his pipes.

A bit of a lad and bad
but oh what a way he had;
with the fish
and his hands leaping,
he set the salmon and some women 
jumping:

Jumping Jamie!
Home your heart
in your hymns,
your wild Northumbrian hymns -

Jumping Jamie!
Home your heart.



JAMIE LIVES!

I see him.
Everytime I see
the Coquet,
I see him.
Everytime
I walk
the Cheviots,
I sense his voice.
I hear him
in the Curlew;
I hear Jamie
in the wind.
His tunes
haunt me still;
his wandering fingers
ripple through
the grass.
His tunes splash
across the river,

skim
in me.



IN THE YOUNG DAYS


In the young days,
I swam,
dipped in the River Coquet.
Along the banks I ran,
shouting for the sun.

In all wild flowers,
I’d lie,
picking out such scent,
jinking jaunty amongst sheep,
dancing for my keep.

Now by the Ganges I walk,
the evening streaming blood;
such wanders through a different land,
such songs of our dead brothers.

In the scale of things I am
but a small fish abroad;
all rivers flow together,
all wonders outlive man.

Jamie Allen I,
piper by the sea;
notes flow inside me,
streams flow by.




OUTCLASSED*

I never really knew my station,
my destination.
I was restless,
yearning.
Could never settle
for second best.
Yet I was
consistently
outclassed.
Ending my days
dingily alone,
stripped of illusions
and riddled
with humility.
My ego starved,
my regal palate fed
on bread
and Coquet water.


*performed by Mike Tickell on the Kathryn Tickell album ‘Common Ground’ (1988)

FOOTNOTE:
Jamie Allan, the most renowned inhabitant of the House of Correction, Elvet Bridge, was born of gypsy parentage near Rothbury in the 1730s and his accomplishment on the Northumbrian pipes earned him recognition from the Duchess of Northumberland. 
He became resident at Alnwick but misbehaved and lost her favour. Subsequently he led a remarkable and irresponsible itinerant life throughout Europe, Asia and Africa but on his return was convicted in 1803 at Durham Assizes of horse stealing, and condemned to death. This sentence was later commuted to transportation but, probably due to his advanced age and poor health, this last journey was not enforced and he spent the remaining seven years of his life in the House of Correction. This is the building where Hollathan's is now housed. 
He died in 1810 on the day before the Prince Regent granted him a free pardon. It is said that his ghost wanders the dank, dark cells and that the plaintive sound of his pipes can sometimes be heard. 
No Wonder! What greater punishment to a wandering gypsy than this? Even his request to be buried in his native Rothbury went unheeded and he was interred in St. Nicholas' Churchyard, now part of Durham's busy Market Place. 

BOOKINGS: Contact Northern Voices Community Projects tel 0191 2529531 if you are interested in  booking the ‘Jumping Jamie!’ show featuring Keith Armstrong and Ann Sessoms (Northumbrian Pipes).

16.8.14

THE LIST!




















KEITH ARMSTRONG - LIST OF PUBLICATIONS
Books:
Shakespeare and Company. Erdesdun Publications, Whitley Bay 1975.
Giving Blood. People's Publications, Newcastle 1977.
Pains of Class. Artery Publications, London 1982.
Love Poems. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 1984.
Dreaming North (book & LP). With Graeme Rigby. Portcullis Press, Gateshead Libraries 1986.
The Jingling Geordie: Selected Poems 1970-1990. The Common Trust & Rookbook Publications, Edinburgh 1990.
Poets' Voices. With Cynthia Fuller, Michael Standen & others. Durham County Council & Tuebingen Cultural Office, 
Tuebingen 1991.
The Big Meeting: A People's View of the Durham Miners' Gala. TUPS, Newcastle 1994.
The Darkness Seeping: The Chantry Chapel of Prior Rowland Leschman in Hexham Abbey. With introduction by historian 
Colin Dallison & illustrations by Kathleen Sisterson. Northern Voices & Crowquill Press, Belfast 1997.
Innocent Blood: the Hexham Riot of 1761. With historian Tom Corfe. Northern Voices & Crowquill Press, Belfast 1997.
Old Dog on the Isle of Woman. Cold Maverick Press Legend Series Number 1, Sunderland 1999.
Our Village. Memories of the Durham Mining Communities. The People's History, Durham 2000.
Bless'd Millennium: The Life & Work of Thomas Spence. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2000.
The Town of Old Hexham. The People's History, Durham 2002.
Imagined Corners. Smokestack Books, Middlesbrough 2004.
Out to Sea. With artist Rolf Wojciechowski. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2004.
Sweet Heart: Erotic Verse. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2006.
Angels Playing Football: Newcastle Poems. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2006.
The Hive of Liberty:The Life & Work of Thomas Spence. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2007.
Hermann Hesse in the Gutter: Tuebingen Poems (1987-2007). With translations by Carolyn Murphey Melchers. Northern Voices, 
Whitley Bay 2007.
A Blush in Staindrop Church. Christopher Smart (1722-1771) in Durham. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2008.
Common Words & the Wandering Star: Jack Common (1903-1968). University of Sunderland Press 2009.
From Segedunum to the Spanish City. North Tyneside's heritage in words and pictures. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2010.
Grand Times. The story of the Grand Hotel, Tynemouth. Grand Hotel, Tynemouth 2010.
The Spanish City. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2010.
The Light in the Centurion. The story of Newcastle’s historic bar. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2011.
Splinters: Poems by Keith Armstrong. Hill Salad Books (Breviary Stuff Publications), London 2011.
The Month of the Asparagus: Selected Poems by Keith Armstrong. Ward Wood Publishing, London 2011. 
Still the Sea Rolls On. The Hartley Pit Calamity of 1862. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2012.
North Tyneside Steam. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2014.
Magazines:
Including: Revival,True Faith, Toon Talk, Red Pepper, Poetry Review, Iron, Aesthetica, The Poetry Business, The Ranfurly Review, The Penniless Press, Citizen 32, Morning Star, The Recusant, Kenaz, The New Statesman, Other Poetry, Poetry Scotland, True Faith, Dream Catcher, Episteme, Northern Echo, Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Sand, North East History, North East Life, The Informer, Northern Review, X magazine, Poetry Salzburg Review, Ash (Oxford University Poetry Society).
Recent anthologies:
Golden Girl. Poems on Newcastle upon Tyne. Credo, Newcastle 2001.
The Seven Deadly Sins. University of Groningen 2002.
Mein Heimliches Auge Erotic Yearbook. Konkursbuch, Tuebingen 2002.
Red Sky At Night: Socialist Poetry. Five Leaves Publications, Nottingham 2003.
War On War. Sub, Breda, 2003.
Paging Doctor Jazz. Shoestring Press, Nottingham 2004.
Microphone On. Poetry from the White House Pub. White House Press, Limerick 2005.
Paint the Sky with Stars. Re-Invention UK, Rayne 2005.
Miracle and Clockwork. Other Poetry, Durham 2005.
North by North East. Iron Press, Cullercoats 2006.
Revival. White House Poetry, Limerick 2006, 2007 & 2009.
Both Sides of Hadrian’s Wall. Selkirk Lapwing Press, Selkirk 2006.
The Wilds. Ek Zuban, Middlesbrough 2007.
Two Rivers Meet. Poetry from the Shannon and the Tyne. Revival Press, Limerick 2008.
Fishing and Folk. Life and Dialect on the North Sea Coast. Northumbria University Press, Newcastle upon Tyne 2008.
Emergency Verse. Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State. Caparison, Brighton 2011. 
The Robin Hood Book. Verse Versus Authority. Caparison, Brighton 2012.
Anthology for a River. Danu Press, Limerick 2012.
The Blue Max Review. Rebel Poetry. Fermoy, 2012.
View from Zollernblick. Regional Perspectives in Europe. Grace Note Publications, 2013.
How Am I Doing For Time? Five Years of Poems, Prose and Pints. Harrogate 2014.
The Spirit of Tolpuddle. Citizen 32, Manchester 2014.
CDs:
Bleeding Sketches. With The Whisky Priests. Whippet Records, Durham 1995.
Out to Sea. With The Ancient Mariners, Jim Mageean, Ann Sessoms. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2007.
Sound City. With Rick Taylor, Bruce Arthur, Pete Challoner, Ian Carr & Bob Fox. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2007.
The Elvis Diaries. With Jim Nunn. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2007.
The Poetry of Percussion. With Bruce Arthur. Northern Voices, Whitley Bay 2008.
Cassette:
The Pitman Poet of Percy Main:The Life & Times of Joseph Skipsey (1832-1903). North Tyneside People’s Centres 1991.


Further information: Northern Voices Community Projects, 93 Woodburn Square, Whitley Lodge, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear NE26 3JD, England. Tel 0191 2529531. Email: k.armstrong643@btinternet.com 

the jingling geordie

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