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)


happy days in tuebingen!


geordie gem!


Skipsey event



The winner of the 2012 Northern Voices Joseph Skipsey Award is the late Gordon MacPherson (1928-1999). The Award was accepted by his daughter Heather Wood of Easington at the Joseph Skipsey 180th anniversary event at the Mining Institute in Newcastle on 17th March.
Northern Voices Community Projects coordinator Keith Armstrong also picked up a lifetime achievement award.




The life, poems and stories of an East Durham Miner

This is a moving and passionate account of one man’s extraordinary battle against adversity to raise a family in an East Durham pit village.

Gordon MacPherson's poetry and writing sums up the arduous working conditions that miners struggle under and his own personal battle with emphysema in later life.
Gordon was an ordinary miner who did great things. This book glows with love and human decency against all the odds.

It shows us the power of community and serves as an example for the future of this area of North East England and beyond. 
It was an honour to know Gordon MacPherson. He is an inspiration; a man committed to his community, family and with a deep love of the area where he was brought up. I am proud to have known Gordon and he was a friend and an inspiration.
This very personal, moving and evocative account of one man’s extraordinary battle against adversity to raise a family in an East Durham pit village in many ways typifies past working class struggles.

Order from: Northern Voices Community Projects, 93 Woodburn Square, Whitley Lodge, Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear NE26 3JD tel. 0191 2529531 or: Heather Wood, 8 Comet Drive, Easington, County Durham SR8 3EP tel. 0191 5270371.

ISBN  978-1-871536-15-4                             PRICE £5 (add £2.50 postage)


The twinning continues to go from strength to strength with poet Doctor Keith Armstrong and folk-rock musician Gary Miller, lead singer of Durham band the Whisky Priests, travelling to Tuebingen at the end of March for performances in pubs, cabaret venues and schools.  Armstrong and Miller will perform with Tuebingen poet Tibor Schneider who visits Durham in October as part of the ongoing exchange.
Durham University poet John Clegg will return the compliment with a trip to Tuebingen in March 2013.

Last year, Tuebingen rock musician Juergen Stuerm 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.

In addition to his most recent visit, Armstrong was 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.

Durham visitors to Tuebingen since 1987:

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

These events were supported by Tuebingen’s Kulturamt and Durham County Council.



award winner!




Poems & music from Durham and Tuebingen

Doctor Keith Armstrong (poet) and Gary Miller (Whisky Priests singer/songwriter) from Tuebingen's cultural partner Durham

present an evening of creative celebration

with special guests: poet Tibor Schneider and Peter Weiss (accordion)

The Boulanger, Collegiumsgasse 2, Tuebingen

Thursday 29th March at 20.30  Admission free

live at 'trashed organ' at the bridge hotel!



The Month Of The Asparagus

Keith Armstrong, Ward Wood Publishing, £8.99

This volume of poems from Newcastle born Keith Armstrong collects together a selection of his work, culled from the last thirty years, and displays the real depth of his talent. He has an obvious and enduring affection for the region that really comes across in lines which exalt the sights and sounds he sees around him. ‘Marsden Rock’ is a “Sensational Rock / swimming in light” and “Birds hurl themselves at the leaping Tyne” in ‘At Anchor’; and he has the kind of voice that you might hear in your own head when you’re caught on the cusp of being drunk; a woozy melancholy that is romantic but also given over to bouts of searing realism. His romanticism also touches on his love for other chroniclers of life including the painter Lowry (“His old boots squeak the floorboards of memory, / his heart is sad and soaked in loneliness”) and the great engraver Thomas Bewick. He has travelled extensively (one poem sees him cropping up at Baudelaire’s grave) but his voice – wherever he finds himself – always alternates between the sharp and the sensual. RM


Press Release

As part of the 2012 150th anniversary of the Hartley Pit Calamity of 1862, local community arts group Northern Voices Community Projects (NVCP) is, with the support of North Tyneside Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund, preparing a touring display and study pack about the Calamity and are asking interested volunteers to get involved.
NVCP have already published, with North Tyneside Council, a commemorative historical book 'Still the Sea Rolls On' and editors Dr Keith Armstrong and Peter Dixon are leading a series of informative visits and study workshops for local volunteers to help research original documentation about the Calamity. The results will be a touring display and a set of study packs to be distributed to North Tyneside libraries, schools, colleges, museums and other organisations who have an interest in the subject.
Involvement is free and there will be visits to Newcastle's Mining Institute, New Hartley Memorial Garden and Earsdon churchyard, Woodhorn Museum, Beamish Museum and Newcastle Library, culminating at Segedunum, Wallsend.
Volunteers will get practical experience of local sites and archives and an insight into the research skills involved in local history research. You need no qualifications or skills to join, only an interest in local community history.
The first visit is at 10.15am on Monday 19th March at the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, Neville Hall, Westgate Road, Newcastle, near the Central Station, and will include a tour of the Institute followed by a bus trip to New Hartley to visit the Memorial Garden and other local sites, including Earsdon churchyard, as well as an illustrated talk by Dr Keith Armstrong and Peter Dixon based on their new book, together with a free buffet lunch.
The other four visits will follow during the day over the next two months.
There are a limited number of places. If you are interested, please contact:
Northern Voices Community Projects Tel: 0191 2529531 or e-mail: k.armstrong643@btinternet
or Chris Bishop, Heritage and Museums Manager, North Tyneside Council Tel 0191 6437413 or e-mail: chris.bishop@northtyneside.gov.uk

Notes to Editors.

North Tyneside Council was successful in securing funding up to £18,600 from the HLF Your Heritage lottery fund to support projects to mark the 150th Anniversary of the Hartley Pit Disaster. This project is part of a programme of activities supported by those funds.

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.  HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects allocating £4.7billion across the UK. Website: www.hlf.org.uk 

the jingling geordie

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