JINGLE ON MY SON!

JINGLE ON MY SON!
A doughty champion of his local culture. (Poet Tom Hubbard)

21.9.19

CARRY ON TWINNING!


 
















TUEBINGEN/DURHAM LITERARY/ARTS TWINNING

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 to give readings and talks for a period of three weeks. Since then he has travelled to the city over 40 times and helped arrange for Durham and North East poets, musicians and artists and their counterparts in Tuebingen to visit their respective cultural twins.

TO HELP CELEBRATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE OFFICIAL TWINNING, KEITH RETURNED TO TUEBINGEN FROM JULY 3RD TO 7TH 2019 AT THE INVITATION OF THE CULTURAL OFFICE IN TUEBINGEN WHEN HE APPEARED AT THE BOOK FESTIVAL TO READ FROM HIS LATEST TUEBINGEN POETRY AND FROM THE  TUEBINGEN/DURHAM LITERARY ANTHOLOGY ‘WORD SHARING’.
HE TRAVELLED WITH NORTHUMBRIAN PIPER CHRIS ORMSTON AND WAS JOINED BY TUEBINGEN PERFORMERS AND FRIENDS FOR THE OCCASION.

WITH 2020 IN MIND, KEITH'S NOW WORKING ON A COLLABORATION WITH TUEBINGEN PHOTOGRAPHER ULRICH METZ
AND DON'T FORGET HIS UPDATED COLLECTION OF TUEBINGEN POEMS (1987 TO DATE), HERMANN HESSE IN THE GUTTER, IS NOW AVAILABLE AT £5 FROM NORTHERN VOICES COMMUNITY PROJECTS.

THE STORY SO FAR:

Keith returned to Tuebingen in September 2016 for readings of his poems inspired by his visits to Tuebingen over the years, including a literary promenade around the old town and along the Neckar accompanied by accordionist Peter Weiss.
He was also there in November 2017 with fellow poet Paul Summers and folk musician Gary Miller to attend the launch of a new anthology, Word Sharing, published by the Cultural Office in Tuebingen and edited by Carolyn Murphey Melchers and Michael Raffel in Tuebingen and Keith Armstrong in Durham to mark 30 years of the literary twinning between Tuebingen and Durham and featuring a selection of poetry by some 22 writers from Tuebingen and Durham.
The anthology had its Durham launch as part of a World Book Day event on Monday 23rd April 2018 at the University of Durham. Special guests at the event were writers Andrea Mittag and Matthias Kaiser from Tuebingen who read alongside Durham poets Jackie Litherland, Katrina Porteous, Paul Summers, Rob Walton and Keith Armstrong, with Durham folk music from Gary Miller and Mick Tyas - all in all, a memorable occasion with wine, poetry and song! Andrea and Matthias also appeared at specially arrranged seminars in the English and German Departments of the University of Durham.

Before this, Tuebingen poets Anna Fedorova and Yannick Lengkeek came to Durham in November 2015 for readings and discussions, with Manuela Schmidt and Florian Neuner following suit in April 2017, and Eva Christina Zeller returned to Durham in November 2017 as part of the exchange programme for readings and workshops at the University.

Looking further back, 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 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.
Armstrong was also 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, Anna Fedorova, Yannick Lengkeek, Manuela Schmidt, Florian Neuner, Andrea Mittag, Matthias Kaiser.

Durham visitors to Tuebingen since 1987:

Keith Armstrong, the late Michael Standen (Colpitts Poetry), the late Julia Darling, Andy Jackson, Fiona MacPherson, Katrina Porteous, Marie Little, Ian Horn (Colpitts Poetry), the late Alan C. Brown, Linda France, Jackie Litherland (Colpitts Poetry), Cynthia Fuller, Margaret Wilkinson, Jez Lowe, the late Jack Routledge, Gary Miller, Matthew Burge, David Stead, Hugh Doyle, Peter Dixon, Paul Summers, Chris Ormston.




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13.9.19

MARTIN MY SON

































MARTIN MY SON


Martin, my son,
stop drinking.
Your wife is drifting away.
You frighten her.
She swims in tears in the kitchen,
hoovers the darkness.

When she left you for the first time,
you slashed your manly wrists,
trying to grab her back
from all those deserted streets.
Bandaged now, you’re on the pool table again,
gambling your love for another pint.

Martin, my son,
you’re a helpless fool;
a boy apeing a man,
a man apeing a boy.
You have your jobs to do,
she has hers.
And so the barriers grow between the sheets.

Martin, I pity you.
You were just brought up that way;
without much chance,
dreamless and without love.
You took your tattoos down the pit.
On your first day at work you were sick,
cried on your mother’s pinny,
soaking her with fear and affection.

Martin, my darling boy,
you grew from an angel into a brute.
Your eyes narrowed into hate
when you beat your first woman
and fell asleep on her.

Give it up, Martin,
show the world that you care.
You’re young enough yet.
Because you failed to kill yourself,
you’re lucky.
You’ve got a life to live.
Give that life ot her.

Martin, you’re supposed to be a man,
but you could still
be beautiful.





KEITH ARMSTRONG

8.9.19

BACK AT ON THE NAIL, LIMERICK


7.9.19

BYKER HILL






Poems by Keith Armstrong




FIRST PUBLISHED BY INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT CO. LTD.  (NEWCASTLE) ARTS CLUB 1972










 




byker


antique mart of memory’s remnants

glad bag of fading rags


bedraggled old flag


blowing in the wind over newcastle




   



we stand on street corners shivering in the winter

like birds sheltering from the wind


we do not rattle loose change in our pockets

only the nuts and bolts of poverty


we are splinters

ill-shaven

our clothes droop on us

using our bones for hangers


we avoid mirrors and images of ourselves in shields road doorways

we do not look through windows


we draw curtains of beer across our eyes

we sleep/place bets


every week on dole day hunger prods us awake


it is instinct


it is a fear of never waking







yesterday’s records in a raby street window

yesterday’s news

revolving today


pictures of byker trapped in a camera

yesterday’s photos

developed today


yesterday’s headlines

today’s wrapping paper


yesterday’s wars are bloodless today







snot drips nose

wailing ragman drags a foot

and sniffs



any old rags

any old rags



hair like straw

homespun

snot runs

licks cracked mouth



any old rags

any old rags


as raby street

                declines

          into

water



any old rags

any old rags






watson’s toffee factory

wrapped in mist

melts in the watering mouth of the dawn

another byker child is born


another byker son assumes

the dusty jacket of a byker man






and this is the truth

the wind-ripped reality between the grave and the womb

the aimlessness

the weary broken people

shuffling through the measured lines of architects’ reports


the cripples

the dying streets

behind the brash and snatching shops

the coughing strays


this is all the small print

the drifting words

beneath the glossy covers


and this is mother byker now


a wasteland of schools

                                     churches         public houses

a frail old woman

her mouth and eyes bricked over

tilting


on her last legs






change

creeps like a lizard over the face of byker

dragging behind it its retinue of planners

                                                    wreckers

                                                    builders and

                                                    visionaries


tomorrow

you will wake from your years of sleeping

and find what you knew to be yours being hauled away

over byker bridge on the backs of lorries

your yesterday

in clouds of dust






byker folk are living still

byker folk on byker hill

fading flowers on a window sill

byker folk

                 hang

                          on




 


*As an industrial librarian at I.R.D., from 1968-72,  
Keith was christened 'Arts & Darts', organising 
an events programme in the firm incuding poetry 
readings, theatrical productions, and art exhibitions by 
his fellow workers, as well as launching Ostrich poetry
magazine using the firm's copying facilities and
arranging darts matches between departments!
He also organised a Byker Festival in 1972 whilst 
working at I.R.D..

1.9.19

the jingling geordie

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