I'LL BE APPEARING AT TUEBINGEN BOOK FESTIVAL IN MAY

I'LL BE APPEARING AT TUEBINGEN BOOK FESTIVAL IN MAY

23.2.15

THE STREETS OF TYNE



























I kicked out in Half Moon Yard,
bucked a rotten system.
Fell out with fools in All Hallows Lane
and grew up feeling loved.

She dragged my hand down Rabbit Banks Road,
there seemed nowhere else to take it.
We mucked about in Plummer Chare,
soaked up the painful rain.

I wanted to control my life,
shout songs on Amen Corner.
I’d carry bags of modern ballads,
hawk pamphlets on Dog Bank.

Wild girls who blazed through Pipewell Gate
taught my veins to thrill.
I caught her heart on Pandon Bank,
my eyes filled up with fear.

Wanted to carve out a poem,
inspire the Garth Heads dreamers.
A lad grew up to dance along 
the length of Pilgrim Street.

I take my wild hopes now to chance
the slope of Dog Leap Stairs.
Follow the pulse of my Tyneside days,
burn passion down The Side. 




KEITH ARMSTRONG   

19.2.15

ON THE NAIL, LIMERICK!


14.2.15

LOVE POEM





























In your damp bedroom,
wet with tears, we
broke bread together, 
bit
into the night 
and ate,
with the crumbs
of kisses in your eyes.
Your breath
flaming like the Kracow dragon,
your teeth flashed
sharp as fire 
as we
guided the slender trams into slumber
and I
promised you
fantasies
to kiss off your lights
and leave
me to nurse
my bites.





KEITH ARMSTRONG



Krakow, Poland



Кит Армстронг

ВАЛЕНТИНКУ В ПОДАРОК

В сыром от слез алькове
нас двое,
ночью преломивших хлеб любви
и на рассвете, подбиравших ласковые
крошки.
Следы от поцелуев на твоих глазах.
Ты дышишь, обжигая, словно
краковский дракон.
Бросает в дрожь острый блеск твоих
жемчужных зубок.
Изящно, нежно, невесомо два наших
трамвая бегут по рельсам страсти в
депо прекрасных сновидений.
Как обещал, гашу последним
поцелуем искры твоей истомы.
И наслаждаюсь в тишине
послевкусием сладких твоих укусов.

(Краков, Польша)

Translated by Yuri Stoma

12.2.15

ENCOUNTERS IN THE REPUBLIC OF HEAVEN


Encounters in the Republic of Heaven

Trevor Wishart


encounters
Music: Trevor Wishart
Words: verbatim
Encounters in the Republic of Heaven takes everyday stories recounted by fishermen, farmers and city-dwellers in the North East of England, and, using new technology, transforms them into an enveloping musical experience: speech that waltzes, speech that harmonises, clouds of speech that circle the audience, culminating with speech that transforms into song.
The speaking voices: Douggie Douglas, Edna Gallagher, Alan Sambrook, Joyce Dent, Kathleen Teward, Claire Morgan, Sylvia Hanratty, James Bell, and Keith Armstrong, and the children of Ryton Comprehensive, Allendale Middle School, Bellingham Middle School, Haydon Bridge Community High School, Greenfield School Newton Aycliffe, Peases West Primary, Wearhead Primary and Newcastle Preparatory School, and students from the University of Durham Music Department.
Brass: George Cook, Gillian Enzor, Ray Farr, Paul Fothergill.

Genesis
The human language is an inexhaustible reservoir of musical material in which we are immersed every day. To make music out of speech, however, we have to be able to extract musical characteristics from the flow of language. In this respect, ENCOUNTERS IN THE REPUBLIC OF HEAVEN revisits the original journey of Peri and Caccini, who tried to retrieve the clarity of speech from the complexity of Renaissance polyphony and in so doing created the earliest experiments in opera.
From 2006, as Composer‐in-Residence in the North East, based at the University of Durham, I collected recordings of natural speech from across the region and developed software to extract the rhythm, melody (and implied harmony) and sonority of individual voices. The sounds have been assembled into an eight-channel, sonic panorama where individual stories, extended in a variety of musical ways, are embedded in the “orchestrated” community of speaking voices, encircling the listener.

11.2.15

CONSTANCE




























































‘Hours, more brief than the kiss
Of a beam on the lake that is mourning,
Than the song of a bird on the wing,
Which drops down like pearls from above .....’

Annette von Droste-Hulshoff (1797-1848)



I have lakes for eyes today
on a ferry across memory.
I am reaching for friends,
skirting boundaries.
My arms thrash in wild waves.
In this moody vista
of wet dreams
and legends,
the horseman rides
his panting steed
across the ice of cold lake kisses,
not knowing, in all this darkness,
just how close he is
to a plunging death.
The swirling weeds,
that wrap themselves
around our shaking bodies,
are full of drowned days
and gulped-down sunshine.

Look! These Alps are clouds today,
and the mountains pile up in the sky.
The line is thin between
fantastic vision
and suicide.
Another sip and I’ll slash my wrists,
gash the sky with blood,
dash poems on a promenade
awash with tourist trash
and the curse of cash.

Knowing looks
she gives me,
does this mighty Constance.
She gleams with sunlight
and sadness,
her red wave hits the mountain’s edge.
I want to get to know her more,
to sail in her dreamy looks
and thunderous smiles.
What tales she echoes,
what amazing craft
she sinks.
The breath of Europe
is recorded in the Bodensee’s sighing:
the wars and agonised cries,
the shrieks of pleasure-boats,
the dying of pointless ideals.
Her castles and churches bear testimony
to all the joy and futility,
the spasms of birth,
the ruination of fine folk.

And so my good friends
let us sip the scent off our brimful Lake
to forget where we’re going
for at least one long breath.
Life can be good at this moment.
It will come on to rain
but the Swabian Sea
will float with stars.
The flaming blood of her heart
will break through a thousand gates.
And our songs will live
when we are gone,
and some will tremble at them
who felt like us.





KEITH ARMSTRONG

Lake Constance

7.2.15

I WON'T DREAM IN ZWOLLE AGAIN




























I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
My poems have drowned in its streets.
My songs about the town
Lie stock-still in its ways.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
Its birds peck at my brow.
Church bells drown my cries
And echo across lost days.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
Whatever happened to me?
What was I thinking about
To believe I could make roots here?

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
The translator is coming for me.
He’ll tell me to head home
Back to the cell of my room.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
The yellow train awaits me.
She’ll dart me down to Schipol
To perch on my favourite stool.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
Its hotel rooms are starless. 
They are full of dreadful maids
And the government’s inspectors.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
Its market’s fruit is rotting.
Drains full of scraps of news
And the bones of flat musicians.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
Its daughters do nothing for me.
They are hooked up with the city’s poets
And their lingerie’s too complex.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
There were good times and they’ve passed.
There were days we danced by the canals
But even they aren’t endless.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
Its lights became red and dangerous.
Its intellectual garrets are small
And its writers are even smaller.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
I’ll leave it to local drunks.
They can drink their fill for me
Since you know I’ve supped enough.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
I hate to break its heart.
I learnt to see its beauty
But I loved it to destruction.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
Let some other poet touch its map.
The wind just laughed in my face
As I leapt into the dark.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
My luggage is full of pain.
I need to take care of the rest of my life
To seek beds in different towns.

I won’t dream in Zwolle again,
I’ve crouched too long on its hill.
My fingers have all turned blue
In the swollen pursuit of what’s past. 




KEITH ARMSTRONG

I WILL SING OF MY OWN NEWCASTLE










sing of my home city
sing of a true geordie heart
sing of a river swell in me
sing of a sea of the canny
sing of the newcastle day

sing of a history of poetry
sing of the pudding chare rain 
sing of the puddles and clarts
sing of the bodies of sailors
sing of the golden sea

sing of our childrens’ laughter
sing of the boats in our eyes
sing of the bridges in sunshine
sing of the fish in the tyne
sing of the lost yards and the pits 

sing of the high level railway
sing of the love in my face
sing of the garths and the castle
sing of the screaming lasses
sing of the sad on the side

sing of the battles’ remains
sing of the walls round our dreams
sing of the scribblers and dribblers
sing of the scratchers of livings
sing of the quayside night

sing of the kicks and the kisses
sing of the strays and the chancers
sing of the swiggers of ale
sing of the hammer of memory
sing of the welders’ revenge

sing of a battered townscape
sing of a song underground
sing of a powerless wasteland
sing of a buried bard
sing of the bones of tom spence

sing of the cocky bastards
sing of a black and white tide
sing of the ferry boat leaving
sing of cathedral bells crying
sing of the tyneside skies

sing of my mother and father
sing of my sister’s kindness
sing of the hope in my stride
sing of a people’s passion
sing of the strength of the wind 


KEITH ARMSTRONG

the jingling geordie

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