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)


dublin skyline


shannon anthology launch


On Adrian Mitchell's Answerphone

On Adrian Mitchell's answerphone -
bells ring,
birds sing,

On Adrian Mitchell's answerphone -
Blake works a miracle,
Big Ben sounds hysterical,
the world waxes lyrical!

On Adrian Mitchell's answerphone -
the passwords sigh,
the terrorists cry,
the children fly!

On Adrian Mitchell's answerphone -
leave plenty of love -
after the tone!

By Keith Armstrong

(As published in Red Pepper)

Dear Keith,

I hope you don't mind but I have put your Adrian Mitchell tribute poem
on my Facebook page - it's just beautiful.
I've put a link to your Write Out page there too.

Thank you,

Joe Galliano

Mad Dogs and Englishmen - Bierreclamemuseum, Breda 25.11.01



Dedicated to Richard St. John Harris and the roaring boys of Charlie St. George’s bar.

My heart is bursting its banks
with the songs of the Shannon. 
My girl friend wells up with the beauty of daybreak,
her breasts swell with the glory of sunshine, 
her eyes are glowing with wisdom. 
Swim with me to the Atlantic surge,
we can watch the mighty birds take flight,
we can feel the urge of history in our bones
and ride on the aching backs of workers.
Shannon, you are our breath aglow
with the salmon of knowledge.
You are the spray in our faces,
full of bubbles of inspiration
welling up in our surging veins.
Wise one,
lift me up in your flow,
leave me in awe of your wonder.
Let me sparkle with the birth of new ideas,
reach out for the touch of a sensational moon, 
dance in a festival of stars
and drown in the arms of a glorious goddess.
"There will be another song for me
for I will sing it.
There will be another dream for me,
someone will bring it.
I will drink the wine while it is warm
and never let you catch me looking at the sun
and after all the loves of my life,
after all the loves of my life,
you will still be the one.
I will take my life into my hands and I will use it,
I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it.
I will have the things that I desire
and my passion flow like rivers through the sky
and after all the loves of my life,
after all the loves of my life,
I will be thinking of you
and wondering why."
From Anthology for a River, published by the Shannon Protection Alliance, 2012.



a commemoration in words and images to mark its 150th anniversary
The Hartley Pit Calamity of 1862 was the first large scale mining disaster of Victorian times. The extent of the Calamity, together with the spreading of news by rail and telegraph, brought this tragic event in rural Northumberland into the homes of families throughout the land on a daily basis.
The reaction from the public, together with the interest shown by Queen Victoria, kept the story in the press for more than a month. Just as evidenced in 2010 in the Chilean mine rescue, the public were gripped by the horror of men trapped underground and the heroic efforts made to rescue them.
This new book from Northern Voices Community Projects, compiled and edited by Dr Keith Armstrong and Peter Dixon and commissioned by North Tyneside Council, has been published to mark the 150th anniversary of the Calamity. With historical documents and images, alongside poems, songs, stories, photographs and drawings by local people, it forms part of a series of events and activities intended to ensure that the story of Hartley is not forgotten.
EMAIL  k.armstrong643@btinternet.com
ISBN 978-1-871536-20-1



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)



You cut sharp strides
through the crowds.
You push aside 
the clouds;
all the weak, the mild,
the losers and dregs,
all of those
who might cramp 
your style
as you unleash
your barking legs.
You aim
and shoot yourself
at the line.
You claim to own
the better time.
At heart,
in bed, 
you’re an impatient mover;
for all that you lack
as a casual lover
you know
you will gain
on the track.
You are
the sexual athlete.
You run
to save your life.
When you breathe
you compete
for a place
for a wife,
for all the medals
the system mints;
all those that gleam
in your ‘healthy’ head
as fresh 
from an early morning stint,
you’re the first
to drop
down dead.


from a swahili phrasebook



The twinning continues to go from strength to strength. Poet Doctor Keith Armstrong and folk-rock musician Gary Miller, lead singer of Durham band the Whisky Priests, travelled to Tuebingen at the end of March for performances in pubs, cabaret venues and schools where they performed with Tuebingen poet Tibor Schneider who visits Durham in October as part of the ongoing exchange. Tibor will join his Durham counterparts for readings at St Chad’s College, Durham University as well as in schools and pubs.
Durham University poet John Clegg, together with Keith, will return the compliment with a trip to Tuebingen in March 2013.

Last year, 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.

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.



jingling geordie!

the jingling geordie

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