HEXHAM RACES POEMS INTRODUCTION
The following poems are by Tyneside writer Dr Keith Armstrong. They were first written in the year 2000 for his poetry residency at Hexham Racecourse and an exhibition of the poems with artwork by local artist Kathleen Sisterson was launched at an event at the Racecourse in September of that year, introduced by Hexham based sports writer Harry Pearson, with readings from Keith and folk music from Mike and Peter Tickell and Ray Sloan on Northumbrian Pipes.
Since 2000 Keith has been a regular visitor to Hexham Races and continues to find inspiration for his poetry in every visit.
Other commissioned work by Keith includes ‘Fire & Brimstone’ the story of Tynedale artist John Martin and ‘The Hexham Celebration’, both for the Hexham Abbey Festival.
He also has also compiled and edited a local history book ‘The Town of Old Hexham’ and organised a festival celebrating the life and work of Hexham born poet Wilfrid Gibson.
I am drawn to them
by the luck of the draw:
who roll me in the hay
across the bolts of lightning in my head,
their hair flashing
through all my racing
LAMENT FOR A TIC-TAC MAN
the tic-tac man
his white gloves
in my dreams,
of lost ideals.
One of the old gambling school
across the dashing fields.
with his monied semaphore,
he guided life,
against the odds,
to a chancer’s death;
a Ladbrokes’ graveyard,
where all the old tic-tac men
from the steppes and plateaus,
with the weight of forests,
these proud ancenstral beasts
through my dreams.
PRAYER FOR THE UNKNOWN HORSEMAN
Let my breath
catch the sungleam
on an elegant head.
May my heart
my eyes burn
with the joy
of a hot day.
Horses are harnessed wind;
let me not frighten or harm them.
Show me ways
to understand them.
Let the scent of fresh hay
always be sweet to me.
Let my blood
The Federation Brewery Amateur Riders’ Selling Handicap Steeple Chase
THE GREEN FOOL
The Buchanan Ales Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Race
ON YOUR OWN
The Keoghans ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle Race
THE SNOW BURN
The Levy Board Maiden National Flat Race
VALLEY OF HOPE
THE OTHER HALF
The Federation Brewery Novices’ Steeple Chase
The Grant Williamson Chartered Accountants ‘National Hunt’ Novices’ Hurdle Race (Div 2)
The Service Welding Novices’ Hurdle Race
The Keoghans Novices’ Hurdle Race
ANGEL IN DISGUISE
The Consett Printing Company Standard Open ‘National Hunt’ Flat Race (Class H)
DANCE N’ SKIP
Hexham Courant Novice Handicap Hurdle Race (Class E)
The Carnaud Metal Box Conditional Jockeys’ Novices’ Hurdle Race
HAND OF STRAW
INTO THE BLACK
The Pensher Security Doors Selling Hurdle Race
The Consett Christmas Novices’ Steeple Chase
UP FOR RANSOM
The Tote Handicap Steeple Chase
The Founders Ales Novices’ Hurdle Race
ONE FOR ALL
The Federation Brewery Standard National Hunt Flat Race