A doughty champion of his local culture.(Poet Tom Hubbard)Your performance at the city hall was soooooooooo good! Christoph thought it was excellent! (Carolyn)



The winner of this year's Northern Voices Poetry Award, annonced at Newcastle's Bridge Hotel on Sunday 24th January, is Trevor Teasdel from Great Ayton on Teesside. Trevor has been a brilliant agitator for poetry for many years and it was felt that it was high time his painstaking work was recognised. A dynamic poet and performer himself, Trevor gave a lively reading before being presented with the award by last year's winner, Paul Summers, in front of an appreciative gathering, which included poets Bob Beagrie, Andy Willoughby, Robert Lonsdale, Gordon Phillips, Catherine Graham, Dave Alton, William Martin and Keith Armstrong.

Says Trevor:

'Thanks for the evening and for the award. As I said, it means more to me than something from the Arts Council etc. Like you, I'm not into glittering awards but this means a lot because you are on the same side - and great respect for the inspiration of Northern Voices and the great poetry.'

Other winners of the award have been William Martin, Alan C. Brown, Katrina Porteous, Catherine Graham and Gordon Hodgeon.

More information from Northern Voices tel 0191 2529531

jingling geordie





On December 2nd 2009, the Trust held a cultural evening at Ustinov College , Durham University , at which well-known poets and musicians from the North East of England read and performed their work to an extremely appreciative audience of students and Durham citizens. Ustinov College is the university’s postgraduate college and is home to students from all over the world. It is an ideal setting for cultural events that build inter-cultural understanding.

The poets who came were Dr. Keith Armstrong, Katrina Porteous, Cynthia Fuller and Paul Summers. They read their own work selecting poems and themes that might resonate with those who had an interest in the Middle East . None of them addressed the situation in Palestine directly, but by speaking each in their own way of the past, of the importance of place in human identity, of peace and of war, they suggested an affinity between the experiences of Palestinians and our own. For example, images of the Roman Wall across Northumberland and of coastal fortresses like Dunstanburgh Castle in the poetry of Katrina Porteous may for many in the room have called to mind Israel ’s separation barrier that scars the landscape of the West Bank . Katrina was not, however, making a political point. As she explained afterwards, fearful that she may have offended some listeners: ‘My intention, as I tried to indicate in my introduction, was only to refer to situations in our own history and spiritual relationship to place which might have resonance with the Palestinian situation -- a longing for home, peace, and the justice upon which peace depends.’ Poetry in this vein is not itself political but enables us to think about politics in a new light. In this sense it is, to use Seamus Heaney’s phrase, ‘redressive’: it extends the reach of our language, our thoughts and feelings to allow us to think about the ways in which the world we know now and the lives people live might be different. The poets who came to Ustinov College had considered reading some Palestinian poetry in translation. As Katrina Porteous explained, however, they chose, for good reasons, not to do so: ‘It’s difficult for us to read poetry in translation and in such a different idiom from our own; but the sentiments are universal. It’s surely this universality which provides the greatest hope of overcoming differences’.

Fine-tuned satirical poems about contemporary politics by Keith Armstrong and Paul Summers enabled their listeners to wonder whether the solutions to the conflicts of the Middle East can be safely left in the hands of present-day politicians. The humour of their work was itself instructive: it points to the need, and they do it admirably, to step back from everyday, taken-for-granted assumptions and arguments, not just to ridicule them but to think beyond them and to imagine different possibilities for the future. Both these poets were able to make fun of the communities from which they came, not to devalue them but to reach beyond them and to acknowledge that other communities have different values from which we can all learn and that in doing so we become free of the entrapments that breed fear, hate and conflict.

In the poems read by Cynthia Fuller, the present elided powerfully into the past with vivid personal recollections of the pain of young men at war felt by those they leave behind. Her focus was the First World War, but the sense of futility and loss evoked in her example is universal and especially poignant with the examples of Iraq and Afghanistan in mind. Her poems encouraged listeners to hear in the tender, clear yet uncertain voices of ordinary folk dealing with sadness and loss, the absurdity and violence of the great moments of politics and history.

Musicians Gary Miller and Marie Little sang of the North East of England, of its communities and their struggles and their hopes. Music builds and sustains solidarities across cultures and through time. These songs were not about Palestine . They were for Palestine , gifts of cultural solidarity and sharing.

The evening came to a close with a short reading from Mahmoud Darwish’s poem ‘A state of Siege’ about the siege of Ramallah by Israeli forces in 2002. From the suffocating and atrocious conditions of military siege and the Occupation, Darwish drew the future possibility of Palestinians and Israelis sharing common human lives on the basis of mutuality and respect. The redressive power of this poetry can surely not be bettered.

Those who experienced this evening of poetry and song in Ustinov College will surely look back on it as a moment when their world moved, even just a little, towards a better future where people across different cultures explore their differences creatively, dissolving away those that breed misunderstanding, bitterness and conflict. This, at least, is the hope that inspires the cultural work of Durham Palestine Educational Trust. For this reason Trust members are deeply grateful to the poets and musicians and the staff of Ustinov College for making this such a memorable event.



common words

Celebrating the life


work of local author

Jack Common

Dr Keith Armstrong

will read extracts from his new book on this popular


Thursday 28th January


Gosforth library


Booking at Gosforth Library

Contact: 0191 277 1811


back in town!



Anarchists in Berlin turn anger on new 'bourgeoisie'

Arsonists torch luxury cars as way of fighting the growing gentrification of many areas of the city

* by Kate Connolly, Berlin
* The Observer, Sunday 10 January 2010

They come out mostly after dusk, typically carrying a simple set of tools – a box of matches, and slow-burning barbecue firelighters which are lit and placed next to a car's tyre. By the time the flames have taken hold the culprit has vanished, and the car is ablaze and beyond recovery when the fire brigade arrives.

In Berlin, a growing band of leftwing car arsonists have become the face of an increasingly vociferous campaign against the gentrification of the German capital. In 2009, 216 mostly luxury cars were torched on the streets of the city, compared with 135 the previous year.

So common is the practice that spotting the attacks has become a popular pastime, spawning an obscure website, "Burning Cars", where contributors track the models that have been targeted. Brennende-autos.de lists the six most recent cars as two Mercedes – the most popular target – a Jeep, Range Rover, Mitsubishi and a rather more modest Ford, which was burned almost beyond recognition on New Year's Day on Hermannstrasse in the former West Berlin district of Kreuzberg. The traditional home of leftwing activism is where most have taken place.

The attacks have been spreading across the city, and are influencing protest groups in other cities, like Hamburg, where there has been a rise in car arson attacks, particularly on police cars. The choice of vehicle has also widened. Lorries belonging to DHL, the courier company, were recently attacked because they serve the German military in Afghanistan, as were German Railways' vehicles – in retaliation for its role transporting nuclear waste by train.

No single group is believed to be behind the attacks, although last year one calling itself Bewegung für Militanten Widerstand (Movement for Militant Resistance) – with the provocative acronym BMW – admitted responsibility for torching eight cars.

In a letter to a leftwing publication, the group said it carried out the attacks in protest at the post-Berlin Wall "transformation of poorer districts", such as Neukölln , Kreuzberg and Mitte where it said "established residents", were being squeezed out by "acute gentrification".

Old flats and warehouses turned into luxury loft apartments have driven up rents and house prices beyond most residents' means. Since the fall of the wall more than 20 years ago, the process has changed the demographic profile of many neighbourhoods. Prenzlauer Berg, in the former communist East Berlin has undergone the most dramatic change, turning from a workers' district into an affluent quarter, which has lost around 60% of its original residents since 1990.

Anger felt by those affected by the influx of the "new bourgeoisie" extends to the disappearance of open spaces and a growing indignation among communities that they are not being consulted. The protest has recently spread to the disused runways of Tempelhof airport, which was closed two years ago. Authorities want to use to land for luxury apartments. Opponents would like it to be developed as a park.

"We have no voice in the way the city is changing," says Jan, 26, a graphic designer and a member of an underground anti-fascist movement in Kreuzberg. He sat in a cafe close to a patch of land where East German police used to patrol the border between East and West Berlin. "Until recently it was where I used to walk my dog and meet friends," he said. "Now look – they're building glassy apartment blocks there for rich yuppies to move into."

Gentrification, he said, is leading to the closure of the very places that have made Kreuzberg a fashionable and desirable place to live, such as Bierhimmel (beer heaven), a popular bar on Oranienstrasse, which has just been forced to close by rising rents. Farther down the road, SO36, a legendary nightclub, may go the same way because of complaints from new residents – scathingly called schicki mickis – about the noise.

A recent meeting at SO36 discussed non-violent ways to keep out "unwanted" residents. Erwin Riedmann, a sociologist, proposed an "uglification strategy" – to "go around wearing a ripped vest and hang food in Lidl bags from the balcony so that it looks like you don't have a fridge". The suggestion drew laughs, but is a strategy being adopted.

An "anti-schicki micki" website, esregnetkaviar.de (it's raining caviar), offers the following tips to make a neighbourhood unattractive for newcomers: "Don't repair broken windows; put foreign names on the doorbell, and install satellite dishes."

Police say they are at a loss as to how to deal with the problem, adding that they cannot patrol Berlin's 5,800km of roads or control an estimated 1,100 leftwing extremists. "It's extremely easy to set light to a car and by the time the first flames are visible the culprit is at least two streets away," said Dieter Glietsch, Berlin police chief.

Peter-Michael Haeberer, head of Berlin's LKA investigation bureau, said there was a lack of willingness to examine the issue. "You have to ask why does such a large part of society so obviously feel excluded," he said.


Anger as pub calls time on old poets

SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY 29 November 2009
By Tim Cornwell
FOR decades, their faces looked down from the nicotine-stained walls of the pub where they once argued and bantered over politics and poetry. Now a planned sale of poets' portraits from one of Scotland most famous writers' watering holes has sparked anger that a vital piece of the city's literary heritage is disappearing for good.
In the 1950s and 1960s Milne's Bar in Edinburgh's New Town became famous as the "Poets' pub", where legendary writers like Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig and their friends gathered in noisy, impromptu literary salons. The downstairs "snug" was
known as "The Little Kremlin" for its lively political and poetical debate and its atmosphere was celebrated in novels.

But a refurbishment of the pub has meant that 15 hallowed vintage photographs and drawings of its former denizens – portraits framed with their poems – were unscrewed from the walls to be auctioned off in a planned charity sale.

Academics and literary experts yesterday warned yesterday that the last vestiges of its historic ambiance are being lost – and questioned why the capital, the world's first Unesco City of Literature, is not doing more to save it.

Robert Alan Jamieson, a poet and joint head of creative writing at Edinburgh University, said: "As Edinburgh is the World City of Literature it is disappointing that such an important place, given the quality of the writers, should be let slip. It is the end of another Scottish institution.You can look at it askance these days and say it was a boys club, but you cannot deny the quality of the work."

Murdo MacDonald, a professor of history of Scottish art at Dundee University, first spotted the pictures had gone. "They are not particularly great works of art, but they are part of the atmosphere of the pub," he said. "It's no longer a particular poet's watering hole, but it is certainly somewhere on a literary tourist trail," he said.

Half a century ago, Milne's Bar, at the corner of Hanover Street and Rose Street, was one of three writers' haunts, along with the nearby Abbotsford Bar, also on Rose Street, and the Cafe Royal. MacDiarmid and MacCaig, among the greatest of Scotland's post-war poets, were at the heart of a circle that included literary luminaries like Sorley MacLean and George Mackay Brown.

In 1980, the leading Scottish artist Sandy Moffat produced a group portrait remembering their heyday. His work, Poets Pub, is an imaginary vision of post-war Scottish poets and writers set in an amalgamation of all three bars, and also includes MacDiarmid, Iain Crichton Smith, Sydney Goodsir Smith, Edwin Morgan, Robert Garioch, Alan Bold and the art critic John A Tonge.

Morgan, the Scots makar or poet laureate, is the only one left alive, at 89 living in a Glasgow nursing home.

Milne's, which still calls itself the poets' pub, was known as MacDiarmid's "favourite howff" and was redecorated in honour of the poet's memory in 1985, with photographs and a painted sign.

MacDiarmid's legendary days in the bar were featured in Alasdair Gray's novel 1982, Janine. The narrator, Jock McLeish, goes for "a pie and a pint" in a basement in Hanover Street. The passage reads: "The bar was crowded except where three men stood in a small open space created by the attention of the other customers. One had a sombre pouchy face and upstanding hair which seemed to, like thistledown, be natural, one looked like a tall sarcastic lizard, one like a small shy bear. 'Our three best since Burns,' a bystander informed me, 'barring Sorley of course'." It was a portrayal of MacDiarmid, MacCaig, and Goodsir Smith.

A spokeswoman for Punch Taverns, the chain that now owns Milne's, said the portraits were removed in one of its corporate "sparkle" refurbishments, to refresh the pub for Christmas.

Manager Wayne Carruthers said the plan is for the pictures to be auctioned in a Christmas charity sale for Cancer Research. "We have had quite a bit of interest for the pictures, a lot of feedback, people asking where have all the pictures gone. I want them to go somewhere where they will be more appreciated."

Jamieson believes the pictures should be kept as a collection, or donated to the Scottish Poetry Library, and not just randomly sold off. Jenny Brown, a literary agent and former Edinburgh International Book Festival director, said the city now boasts new literary watering-holes. She said: "We would obviously much rather see the tradition continued but it's a commercial decision, and there's so much other activity happening now in terms of where writers are meeting."


Bridging The Gap
Wednesday 27 January
11.00-11.30am BBC RADIO 4

Bridging The Gap is a vivid sound portrait of the Tyne Bridge. The programme draws on the voices and sounds of the bridge, the river, local people and wildlife, while exploring the history, construction and role of the bridge.

The bridge is hugely symbolic in the North East. As a giant arch, it reflects the changes that have taken place in the North East, including developments on the Tyne and overall changes in lifestyle. Today, wildlife has moved in; where the industrial giants of the past have moved out, salmon and otters can be found in the river.

The bridge is also a nesting site for kittiwakes, a species of ocean-travelling gull. More than 150 pairs have been recorded here, making it the furthest inland breeding site of kittiwakes in the world.

Contributors to the programme include sound recordist Chris Watson; poet Keith Armstrong; Ian Ayris from Newcastle City Council; Steve Lowe of Northumberland Wildlife Trust; Steve Mays, architectural and landscape photographer; and Tommy Proctor, River Tyne guide.

Producer/Sarah Blunt

BBC Radio 4 Publicity


ranfurly review

latest ranfurly review: http://ranfurly-review.co.uk/latestissue.html


let's drink to 2010!

the jingling geordie

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