MISSION ACCOMPLISHED IN TUEBINGEN

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED IN TUEBINGEN

22.12.12

NEWS FROM GARY MILLER!


'MAD MARTINS'

My 1st of 2 new albums due in 2013:

I am looking forward to entering the recording studio in January 2013 to record the first of what I hope will be two new Gary Miller albums for 2013.

This first of these two albums is 'Mad Martins' - a series of songs I began writing 10 years ago about the "infamous" Martin Brothers of Tynedale for a project originally conceived by my friend and regular collaborator Keith Armstrong.

The album is being recorded by my very good friend and regular recent collaborator Iain Petrie.
As well as a good selection of songs of mine (about 20), the album is also planned to include a series of poems by Keith, and perhaps some other bits and pieces still to be confirmed! It may even become a double album! Special launch events for the album to be announced soon…
I have been carrying many of these songs in my head for the last 10 years so it will be great to finally "get them out there" and "lay them to rest" before I commence on my next album 'proper' of all new songs for autumn 2013.

16.12.12

2013!


NORTHERN VOICES COMMUNITY PROJECTS

COMMUNITY ARTS EVENT IN THE MINING INSTITUTE LIBRARY, NEWCASTLE:

Wednesday January 16th 2013 7.30pm. Admission free. Bar and bookstall.

Northern Voices Community Projects Annual Awards event. The presentation of the annual Northern Voices Community Projects Joseph Skipsey Awards and a commemoration of the Hartley Pit Disaster with poems and songs. This event launches Dr Keith Armstrong's writing residency at the Mining Institute and will also mark the 45th anniversary of the death of Newcastle writer Jack Common and the 110th of his birth, with readings from his works. There will be readings from the NVCP commemorative book on Hartley 'Still The Sea Rolls On', funded by North Tyneside Council, featuring Rachel Cochrane, Catherine Graham, Keith Armstrong, Robert Lonsdale, Geoff Holland, Dave Alton, Gordon Phillips and more, with songs by local folk groups 'Kiddar's Luck' and 'The Sawdust Jacks' and by Chris Harrison (great great grandson of Tyneside pitman poet Joseph Skipsey (1832-1903), who will perform a settting of Skipsey's Hartley ballad), Gary Miller of 'The Whisky Priests' and a special guest appearance by Northumbrian Piper Chris Ormston with a set of tunes, including his Hartley Lament.

The NVCP  touring exhibition on Hartley, produced with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and North Tyneside Council, will be displayed in the Mining Institute from January 7th to February 1st.

14.12.12

THE MUELLER GIRLS



(for Andy Marx)

It’s a lonely day
in Tuebingen.
I’m floating in insecurity
along the Neckar,
riddled with last night’s schnapps.
Not knowing
where the hell
I’m headed,
I need a lady’s touch
just there,
where it matters.
That’s why
I’m homing in on Bismarkstrasse
to that scarlet house
where the Mueller Girls wait
to lick my brains 
a little better
than anyone else will 
this afternoon,
feeding my appetite
for breath
and lust
for that special feeling.
This minute I wish 
to be surrounded 
by girls,
for them to make me warm
and hold my dreams
in their strong arms.

Coming to Tuebingen
has become a habit
as natural as drinking;
I know just where to sit
in the Boulanger bar,
just where to drown
and just where to float
and drift.
Drink helps me
to alter my mind,
to raise and lift my spirits.
But it’s not the same
as Monika
lifting her skirt
and raising me up
on her massive bed.

And so 
we rock on
in this Swabian storm,
breathless
and shaky
as Hoelderlin’s hands.
I am lying 
with my head 
in her thighs
and only now
am I feeling alive.
She
is helping me
finish 
this poem.
It’s a long one
and needs to be shaped
into action.
She whispers crazy words
into my left ear
because I am left handed
and need her to tell me
just what to write
on these sheets
I caress
with a lyric touch.
She pampers my mind
with fresh ideas,
hot thoughts.
When other folk
are at their work,
this juicy text
drips 
from her tongue.
She licks all 
my poetry books
and comes to me
down Lange Gasse
in her boots
and stockings
from another century.
I go upstairs,
along the path
to the hottest girls in town,
to a golden shower
running 
with river water.

Open my mind
you can find 
sweet fantasies in there,
smuggled through Customs,
drenched with alcohol
and knowledge.
What do you say
to a Market Place massage,
a walk
through the park
with a lovely girl
whose hair is wild?

This life is limitless.
We must explore
the dirty lanes
behind Town Halls,
the balls
of light
in the graveyard of poets,
tongues
playing wildly,
this unforgettable hour,
kissing away
life.




KEITH ARMSTRONG




Wow!!!! A very honest poem!!!
Is it to keep for myself or can I share it with others ?
Thanks very much! Unfortunately in Boulanger is no Monika (yet) and a golden shower is also not available - but I`ll try to find a way.

Take care!

Cheers,
Andy

9.12.12

CREATIVE SCOTLAND








     

Creative Scotland was a project doomed to failure

IT took fewer than three years for the bright, shiny new model to come apart at the seams.
All that effort spent liquidating the Scottish Arts Council (SAC) and dissolving Scottish Screen, all the hideous jargon masquerading as coherent speech, all that careful work to turn the arts into something called "the creative industries": what remains?
For one thing, there's a long session ahead for the board members of Creative Scotland as they survey the wreckage and wonder where their next chief executive is coming from. For another there is, or ought to be, deep embarrassment within government that a strategy – as these things are called – could become a shambles in such a brief span of time. If Andrew Dixon is the only casualty, justice will be in short supply.
The departing chief executive lost the confidence of those who make art. Some 100 of them wrote a letter to say as much in the sort of plain language that Creative Scotland never cared to master. Yet even at the end Mr Dixon seemed unable to grasp where, how and why he might have gone wrong. Those who remain to pick up the pieces, if they can, are unlikely to be any less perplexed.
This is fundamental. The people who make and talk about art or culture are worlds apart from those who regard such things as branch economies of their "creative industries". The latter are in the business of tourism, economic development, "gross value added", and the promotion of anything – fashion, computer games, advertising, cookery shows – capable of being called creative. The other lot care about art. There's a difference.
It has nothing to do with cultural hierarchies, elitism, or who is best served by a diminishing pot of public money. It is an argument, chiefly, over Creative Scotland's purpose. Scottish Enterprise, by its own account, is "here to support the businesses behind the creativity". It is already "helping hundreds of creative companies achieve great things". But it does not exist to aid the 49 theatre companies and art galleries who next year will face being funded on a project-by-project basis thanks to Creative Scotland.
That body doesn't deserve all the blame. It didn't break the solemn promise, repeated by successive Westminster governments, that Lottery money would never replace core funding. Creative Scotland was the victim, like everyone else, of public spending cuts and austerity. The decision to take the country's main arts institutions into direct government care was none of the body's doing. Neither Mr Dixon nor anyone around him took the actual decision to treat creativity as an industrial commodity.
Creative Scotland was eager to please, nevertheless. It talked the asinine talk of "experiential opportunities", "creative pathways" and "outcomes". It accepted the grisly "Year of Creative Scotland", now drawing to a merciful end, at face value, as a straightforward marketing opportunity. It did not once pause to ask a simple question: is this how art works? You can and must market a thrilling computer game or a fashion show. Good luck to you. But what has that to do with those who make art in solitude?
They could do with a funding body willing to listen and capable of listening. We could call it an arts council. Such was the burden, after all, of the letter from the 100. It pointed to a fundamental misconception. There is plenty of room and need for an organisation to represent and promote those creative industries. What is there, practically speaking, for those who work in art, those who tend to be remembered when a politician decides to boast about the national culture?
Creative Scotland is but one part of something called Scotland's Creative Industries Partnership. This also embraces the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, the Scottish Funding Council, and Scottish Development International. Try getting poetry out of that lot. Better still, try getting these worthy bodies to understand the delicate balance between support for the arts and artistic autonomy.
Creative Scotland developed a taste, to put it no higher, for the artistic command economy. It quickly acquired the habit of telling arts people what they ought to be doing while turning a deaf ear – so the allegation goes – to anything it didn't care to hear. So-called "project-based funding", destroying any hope of artistic independence, was the predictable result. It was a notion dreamed up by people who see no problem in bureaucrat-sanctioned art.
The crack about reviving the arts council was not a joke. Collectors of jargon and threatened theatre companies alike are entitled to conclude that Creative Scotland is not – may the gods of literacy strike me down – fit for purpose. It was swamped, from the beginning, by contradictory demands, and it has sunk ever deeper into that mire with each passing month.
The old arts council was never far from controversy. Arts people hated it, too, for much of the time, especially when a grant application failed. That body suffered from its own contradictions. Arguments over public subsidy, its extent and purpose, were never resolved – how could they be resolved? – to general satisfaction. For four and a bit decades, nevertheless, there was a rough and ready agreement over what the SAC thought it was for. The same cannot be said of Creative Scotland.
Some of the 100 who wrote the now-famous letter were keen to say that the row "wasn't about money". They were wise. A good case can be made to show that governments driving austerity or driven by austerity neglect the arts at their peril. But in which sphere of the public realm is funding irrelevant? The ability to disburse £80 million makes Creative Scotland the envy of a great many important organisations and charities now being slaughtered by cuts. Arts people had better not forget it.
That must not become the issue. A cultural body could be reduced to handing out used fivers in the street and Scotland would still be entitled to ask what it was doing, why, for which purpose, and for whose sake. Far from providing answers, Creative Scotland has failed to understand the questions.

4.12.12

EPITAPH FOR A FROSTY GIRL



To please you
I made a Snow Woman.
It felt just like you,
melted away
in the morning sun.


Keith Armstrong

the jingling geordie

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