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)





You've got to be joking
if you think this is democracy,
this quango land
insult to our history,
this emptiness
of false celebrity,
this wretched shallowness,
this shattered ignorance
of all that shines from our fought-for heritage,
this media connivance
and bone idleness,
this following of the fast buck,
this grovelling to the greed of capital,
this sickening homage to materialism,
this lack of human spirit
in our city centres,
this brutal selfishness
encouraged by a government
that denies our European roots,
that scans the wonder of the vast Atlantic
for feeble ideas to run with,
this rat race of a society
that puts self above solidarity,
these feeble careerist substitutes for activism
who have lost any real will for change,
who have become corrupted by a power-lust,
who lack any passion
other than to climb grimly up their greasy poles,
clinging on to their self-delusion,
ignoring, in their centrist way,
the true beauty of community,
handing out their gongs to the servile
and rubbishing the selfless folk
who work their little miracles every breathing day.


Absolutely brilliant, my thoughts exactly.

Heather Wood



Dear Mr. Armstrong,
I hope this finds you well.  I've never done this in my life - i.e. contact a writer - but felt I really had to thank you for the fabulous poem about the Forth Bridge which appeared in the Scottish Review.   It so inspired me that I wanted to hang out the window and shout it across the bay!  (I live on a wee island on the west coast.)

Not only do I also love that bridge (I spent my childhood holidays in Fife and always got so excited whenever we crossed it), but I like bridges in general (don't know what that says about me and don't care to find out!).  I'm also a Russian speaker and absolutely love Mayakovsky's great poem inspired by the Brooklyn Bridge. Yours is equally inspiring, as far as I'm concerned.

Anyway - all I wanted to do was to congratulate you and say thank you for that truly marvellous poem.  It made my day reading it.

All the best,
Moira Dalgetty


Strapping girders,
lusty arches:
the span of my ambition,
shore to shore
you link me with the old bones,
the new ways,
the true trains that take me
down the path of all my loves.
You lift up your wide arms
to take in the tide,
roll with the shaking wind
that whistles in the rushes
of the wild banks.
You thrill me with your size,
your strong embrace;
you roar with achievement,
you make me proud:
I could hug you.
Let me take the Queensferry train,
slide through you to freedom.
The pipes play
and the kilts sway
to greet us.
You are the opening,
the gap we streak through
to the woolly wilds
of Auld Reekie
and Bonnie Old Dundee;
to the sea of workers’ blood,
the red rust of the past that clings
and hugs the bones of dead engineers.
In the Albert Hotel,
tucked up, I hear you moan in the darkness.
I pull back the curtains
and see you floodlit
in all your entrancing glory.
Shine on, shine
you crazy bridge.
You have my devotion,
you have my deepest darkest love.
I would climb you stripped;
I would feel you breathe in the Firth wind.
I give you my heart and soul,
I am frail against your depth.
You will outlive me,
do not mock me,
you are superb.
You are my outstretched lovely;
I will breathe through you,
long for you,
die for you.
Rock me,
go Forth
and inspire me.




Monday 18th March 20.00  Cafe Piccolo Sole D'Oro, Metzgergasse, Tuebingen, Germany with poetry/lyrics and music. Featuring: from Tuebingen's cultural partner Durham: poetry from Doctor Keith Armstrong with folk singer/songwriter Gary Miller of The Whisky Priests band and from Tuebingen: music by Mary Jane and Juergen Sturm, featuring lyrics by Veit Mueller. 

Wednesday 20th March at  20.30  Boulanger Bar, Collegiumsgasse, Tuebingen. From Tuebingen's cultural partner Durham: Poetry from Doctor Keith Armstrong with folk singer/songwriter Gary Miller of The Whisky Priests band. Special guests from Tuebingen: poets Tibor Schneider and Sara Hauser with music from Peter WeiƟ on accordion and Christian Roch on Uillean Pipes.




(in memory of Jonathan Martin (1782-1838) who set York Minster on fire in 1829)

‘My soul’s full of glory, which inspires my tongue,
Could I meet with Angels I’d sing them a song;
I’d sing of my Jesus and tell of his charms,
And beg them to bear me to his loving arms.

With his fiery red whiskers
and eyes burning with rage,
Jonathan Martin broke out of his cage
to set York Minster ablaze.

Selling pamphlets of his life
so his dreams would always shine,
his lips to the tips of an angel’s wing,
he said he’d brought the sun.

He told the ‘Lord’s Folk’ around him,
those Citizens of Devilish Mind:
‘Hell is opening to take you,
ye blind leaders of the blind.’

When half-past two o’clock struck,
he lighted up his fires
and this crazy Incendiary of Unsound Mind
ignited his wildest desires.

And it’s blood, fire and smoke,
long may you Beef-eaters choke.
You serpents and vipers of Hell, 
in flames your Minster I burn.

‘Lord what a wretched land is this,
that yields us no supply.
No cheering fruits, no wholesome trees,
nor streams of living joy!
But pricking thorns through all the ground
and mortal poisons grow;
and all the rivers are found
with dangerous waters flow ...............

Long nights and darkness dwell below,
with scarce a twinkling ray;
but the bright world to which we go
is everlasting day.’

And its blood, fire and smoke,
long may you Beef-eaters choke.
You serpents and vipers of Hell,
with flames your Minster I burn.


Keith Armstrong 



There’s a hole in this Newcastle welcome,
there’s a beggar with a broken spine.
On Gallowgate, a heart is broken
and the ships have left the Tyne.

So what becomes of this History of Pain?
What is there left to hear?
The kids pour down the Pudding Chare lane
and drown a folksong in beer.

So here is an oubliette for you, Kitty,
somewhere to hide your face.
The blood is streaming from fresh wounds in our city
and old scars are all over the place.

There’s this dirt from a history of darkness
and they’ve decked it in neon and glitz.
There are traders in penthouse apartments
on the Quayside where sailors once pissed.

So where are Hughie and Tommy, Kitty?,
the ghosts of Geordies past?
I don’t want to drown you in pity
but I saw someone fall from the past.

So here is an oubliette for you, Kitty,
somewhere to hide your face.
The blood is streaming from fresh wounds in our city
and old scars are all over the place.

While they bomb the bridges of Belgrade,
they hand us a cluster of Culture  
and tame Councillors flock in on a long cavalcade
to tug open the next civic sculpture.

And who can teach you a heritage?
Who can learn you a poem?
We’re lost in a difficult, frightening, age
and no one can find what was home.

So here is an oubliette for you, Kitty,
somewhere to hide your face.
The blood is streaming from fresh wounds in our city
and old scars are all over the place.

So here is an oubliette for you, Kitty,
somewhere to hide your face.
The blood is streaming from fresh wounds in our city
and old scars are all over the place.




Leith Walk it was
where Thomas Carlyle realised
that God did not exist:
Leith Walk
where Stevenson lit
his student pipe
and leched
after a shopgirl’s arse.
He spat
at dashing businessmen,
faces gripped
by hate,
and he loved
the night
did RLS:
the swinging hips,
and lifted dresses;
the tartaned whores spread
over a wild Scots wasteland,
showing their floodlit thighs,
keys flashing
in expert hands,
ready to unlock,
tease out,
the strangest dreams;
in full sight
of a devilish moon,
Leith Walk,
and a nonexistent God.



Wednesday 27th February - Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre (HEART) Ltd, Bennett Road, Leeds LS6 3HN  7.30pm.  A reading featuring three Ward Wood poets – Keith Armstrong, David Cooke and Joy Howard.



Sky is a guide dog.
He will lick you
into light.
His eyes are pools of sparks.
He is a star hound.

Sky leads us across the universal fields,
opens up the lids of daydreams,
teaches us to feel
those tender rays.

Sky’s vista runs deep,
shows up a braille galaxy.
In this cold, blind dark,
we follow his moonlit trail.
We marry our lonely visions with his
and see


the jingling geordie

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