TYNESIDE POETS!

TYNESIDE POETS!

Monday, 16 January 2017

BURNS NIGHT CELEBRATION - ALL WELCOME!






FEATURING:

JAZZ POEMS:
Keith Armstrong and the Don Forbes Trio

FOLK MUSIC:
The Sawdust Jacks
Ann Sessoms (Pipes)

POETRY:
Dave Alton
Robert Lonsdale

Katrina Porteous
Trev Teasdel
Rob Walton
Dominic Windram



THE RED HOUSE, QUAYSIDE, NEWCASTLE WEDNESDAY 25TH JANUARY 2017 7.30PM 

ADMISSION FREE

FURTHER INFO: NORTHERN VOICES COMMUNITY PROJECTS TEL 0191 2529531


Saturday, 7 January 2017

MY FATHER WORKED ON SHIPS


 

































My father worked on ships.
They spelked his hands,
dusted his eyes, his face, his lungs.

Those eyes that watered by the Tyne
stared out to sea
to see the world
in a tear of water, at the drop
of an old cloth cap.

For thirty weary winters
he grafted
through the snow and the wild winds
of loose change.

He was proud of those ships he built,
he was proud of the men he built with,
his dreams sailed with them:
the hull was his skull,
the cargo his brains.

His hopes rose and sunk
in the shipwrecked streets
of Wallsend
and I look at him now
this father of mine who worked on ships
and I feel proud
of his skeletal frame, this coastline
that moulded me
and my own sweet dreams.

He sits in his retiring chair,
dozing into the night.
There are storms in his head
and I wish him more love yet.

Sail with me,
breathe in me,
breathe that rough sea air old man,
and cough it up.

Rage, rage
against the dying
of this broken-backed town,
the spirit
of its broken-backed
ships.


                               

Keith Armstrong
 


Allan Dennis Brockbank I always did like your poetry how you doing?

Mo Shevis Bought 'Imagined Corners' recently and was pleased to see this poem there, having read it previously online. When I read it last week at my poetry reading group it was very well received.! It is a powerful piece Keith. We are all of an age to remember the old industries,proud of our heritage and those who worked in them. Thankfully we have people like you to record such images and memories for posterity.


Derek Young What a poem. So evocative of those days. I worked at Parsons Marine Turbine Company as an apprentice marine engineer. My girl friend was a trainee tracer at Swan Hunters.

Michael McNally Hi Keith,Thank you for sending this wonderful piece of work in my direction.

JANIS BLOWER

Thursday 26 June 2014

HAVE YOUR SAY
IT’S gratifying to see that on-line readers have taken an interest in one or two topics recently
One was that smashing poem, My Father Worked on Ships, by Keith Armstrong, in which correspondent, Geordiman, reckons he recognised himself in its depiction of an old shipyard hand.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

OLD STATIONS



























 






(for Kathleen Sisterson)




There’s an old station

I keep dreaming of

where I wandered

as a child;

flower baskets

seep with longing

and engines

pant with steam.

It might have been

at Chollerton,

in a summer’s field,

when I realised

how good 

life could be,

in the sunshine

of my songs;

or it might have been

at Falstone

where the roses

smelt of smoke

and I felt

the breath of railwaymen

wafting in my hair.

This little boy,

with his North Tyne lilt

and the dialect

of ancients,

ran up the platform

of his life

and chased

the racing clouds.

It was a first taste

of Kielder Forest

and the light

that skimmed the hills

and the engine

rattled through the day

to drive me 

to my roots:

to Deadwater

and Saughtree,

the hours flew

for miles

and the railway

ran into my veins

and sparked 

history in my soul.

In this album

of a fragile world,

I’d like to leave 

these lines 

for you to find

in Bellingham

or Wark,

a tune to play

in Reedsmouth

in Woodburn 

or in Wall.

Along this route, 

I hope you'll find

a glimpse of me in youth;

the smiling child,

inside the man,

who took the train

by chance

and found his way 

with words

and leaves

to Thorneyburn 

and Riccarton,

along the tracks

of dreams.







KEITH ARMSTRONG




Beautiful and evocative. (Conrad Atkinson)

Thanks for your wonderful poem 'Old Stations'. It's a truly moving piece of work, tapping childhood nostalgia but in away that seems naturally to a young imagination being born of the lore and physicality of the trains and railway stations. (Noel Duffy)

Really liked that one, so descriptive, I could see it all in my mind’s eye! (Marie Little)





Wonderfully evocative, Keith. (Sid Smith)





Like it! (Pete Thompson)


It's great Keith! (Peter Common)

As ever, a lovely poem & one I can easily relate to. (Geoff Holland)









(from forthcoming book and film -
written for an exhibition at Bellingham Heritage Centre, June 2013)

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

BURNS NIGHT EVENT






































BURNS NIGHT: A LITTLE CELEBRATION - WITH POEMS, JAZZ AND FOLK MUSIC!


FEATURING:

JAZZ POEMS:
Keith Armstrong and the Don Forbes Trio

FOLK MUSIC:
The Sawdust Jacks
Ann Sessoms (Pipes)

POETRY:
Dave Alton
Robert Lonsdale
Gordon Phillips
Katrina Porteous
Paul Summers
Trev Teasdel
Rob Walton
Dominic Windram



THE RED HOUSE, QUAYSIDE, NEWCASTLE WEDNESDAY 25TH JANUARY 2017 7.30PM 

ADMISSION FREE

FURTHER INFO: NORTHERN VOICES COMMUNITY PROJECTS TEL 0191 2529531

Sunday, 18 December 2016

THE TREATMENT BELL - NEW FROM G.F.PHILLIPS




On the side wall, beside the reception

hangs the treatment bell,

pristine, silver,

its shine an encouraging glow.



Before it, hopeful patients sit.

The next ringer strikes a note for them all:

a customary three times

for an end of plan toll,

excitement measured in the hammering and applause.




 G. F. Phillips

Sunday, 11 December 2016

ELVET BRIDGE


























 








(inspired by Guillaume Apollinaire)


Under Elvet Bridge the rain
flows with our loves.
Must I recall again?
Joy always used to follow after pain.

The days pass, the weeks pass
all in vain.
Neither time spent nor misspent
nor love comes back again.

Under Elvet Bridge the rain
flows with our loves.
Must I recall again?
Joy always used to follow after rain.




Keith Armstrong






Durham photos by Peter Dixon

Sunday, 4 December 2016

FOR 'CUNY' - JOHN CUNNINGHAM PASTORAL POET 1729-1773



















FOR CUNY


‘Search where Ambition rag'd, with rigour steel'd;
Where Slaughter, like the rapid lightning, ran;
And say, while mem'ry weeps the blood-stain'd field,
Where lies the chief, and where the common man?’

(John Cunningham)

‘Unto thy dust, sweet Bard! adieu!
Thy hallow'd shrine I slowly leave;
Yet oft, at eve, shall Mem'ry view
The sun-beam ling'ring on thy grave.’

(David Carey)

This week an elegant tombstone, executed by Mr. Drummond of this town, was set up in St. John's church-yard to the memory of the late ingenious Mr. John Cunningham. The following is the inscription thereon:

‘Here lie the Remains of JOHN CUNNINGHAM.
Of his Excellence as a Pastoral Poet,
His Works will remain a Monument
For Ages
After this temporary Tribute of Esteem
Is in Dust forgotten.
He died in Newcastle, Sept 18, 1773,
Aged 44.’

The ritual slaughter
of traffic,
hurling itself
against the furious economy,
the commerce of suffering,
the pain of money,
nudges your bones
in this graveyard of hollow words.
I hear you liked a jar
well, here’s me
sprinkling
your precious monument
with a little local wine,
lubricating the flowers
that burst from your pastoral verses.

You toured the boards like me, torn like me,
with your heart,
terrific heart,
pouring real blood on your travelling sleeve.
Oh, my God!
your lips trembled
with a delicate love
for the fleeting joy,
the melancholic haze,
the love in a mist,
that Tom Bewick sketched in you
amd Mrs Slack fed
as you passed along
this way and that
despair in your eyes.
The fact was
you were not born
for the rat race
of letters,
the ducking and fawning
for tasteless prizes,
the empty bloated rivalry,
the thrust of their bearded egos.
You wanted wonder,
the precise touch
of the sun on your grave,
the delicious kiss
that never comes back.
I’m with you, ‘Cuny’
in this Newcastle Company of Comedians;
I’m in your clouds of drunken ways;
I twitch with you
in my poetic nervousness
along Westgate Road.
And the girls left their petals for you
like I hope they do for me
in the light of the silver moon,
thinking of your pen
scratching stars into the dark sky.


KEITH ARMSTRONG

'In another part of the field, another field, let's
face it, sits Keith Armstrong's rakish gaff. (His)
poems are rooted in the Tyneside music hall tradition,
closely behind which was the august balladry of the
Borders. His is an unashamed bardic stance, actor
rather than commentator. His politics are personal.
Throughout the collection the authentic lyrical note
of this northern poet is struck.'  (Michael Standen,
Other Poetry).

Sunday, 27 November 2016

CUBA, CROCODILES, RAIN






It is raining on crocodiles,
bullet-tears on the scales.
Here, where the balance of power has changed.
These banks of hardened green-backs, spread
stoned along the water’s edge,
are caged
like old dictators,
reigns ended
as young Cuba
surrounds them.





KEITH ARMSTRONG


photos: Dr Keith Armstrong

Monday, 21 November 2016

ROBERT GILCHRIST, TYNESIDE POET 1797-1844





















Robert Gilchrist was born in St Mary’s Parish in Gateshead on 8th September 1797. His father was a sailmaker, part owner of Payne & Gilchrist sailmakers, before becoming head proprietor. After Robert finished school he was apprenticed to William Spence, sailmaker, before working in the family business.

Robert started writing poetry from a young age and found support in a thirving local community of poets, songsters and bards. He gained the friendship of Thomas Thompson (1773-1816), who was considered to be one of the finest and earliest Newcastle poets. Gilchrist was held in high regard. In 1818, at the age of 21, he received a silver medal from his companions in appreciation of his poetry. His special place amongst the community was recorded in the song ‘Thumping Luck to Yon Town’, by painter and politician William Watson. Watson notes Gilchrist’s “comic song” amidst the wit and humour of notable others such as Thompson and William Mitford.

A number of Gilchrist’s poems and songs were published, lending him a degree of local fame. Gilchrist's first book-length poem Gothalbert and Hisannawas published in 1822. In 1824 his Collection of Original Songs, Local and Sentimental was published by W.A. Mitchell. A second edition followed in the same year, with the title altered slightly to A Collection of Original Local Songs, and the addition of an extra poem, ‘The Loss of the Ovington’. Poems, a collection of eighty-four verses, followed in 1826 published by W. Boag. In all, Gilchrist’s published output of songs and poetry numbered over a hundred separate and original pieces, appearing in these collections and in the local press, including: The Newcastle Journal; Tyne Mercury;The Newcastle Courantand  Newcastle Magazine. Many of Gilchrist’s songs, drawn from his 1824 Collection of Original Songs, Local and Sentimental, upon which a biographer noted his fame largely rested, were republished in local anthologies in his own lifetime and beyond. These included: Fordyce's 1842 Newcastle Song Book, Joseph Robson's 1849 Songs of the Bards of the Tyne, Thomas Allan's 1862 Tyneside Songs and Readings and Joseph Crawhall’s 1888 A Beuk O’Newcassel Sangs. 

Upon the death of his father, John Gilchrist, in 1829, Robert took over his father's business near the Custom House on the Quayside. He was not successful in the business preferring the country and long walking tours. Gilchrist resided in the old house facing Shieldfield Green, reputed to have housed King Charles during the English Civil War as a prisoner of the Parliamentarians. In 1838 he wrote a poem 'The humble petition of the old house in the Shield Field' to Town Clerk Mr John Clayton Esq. complaining of plans which threatened to destroy this house. The house was spared. A memorial plaque stands on Shieldfield Green to commemorate the famous inhabitants of the house, which eventally succumbed to redevelopment in the 1960s.
Picture
Gilchrist had some involvement in local politics and must have had a degree of status in Tyneside. He was a freeman, a member of the Herbage Committee, which tended Newcastle's Town Moors, and took part in the annual Barge Day event, a local custom in which the Mayor and barges representing the Town's Guilds sailed the length of the Town Corporation's boundaries on the Tyne. Following the Poor Law Reforms of 1834 and the creation of the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Poor Law Union in September 1836, Gilchrist was elected to the Board of Guardians, representing the All Saints' Parish. This role would have meant him adjudicating between deserving and undeserving poor, deciding on the fate of unfortunate individuals and families as they entered the newly constructed Newcastle Workhouse. He was involved in an inquiry into the controversial death of the pauper Elizabeth Graham in 1838; an event which garnered national press coverage.

Robert died on 11 July 1844 at the Old House in Shieldfield, aged 47, and was buried at the East Ballast Hills burial ground. The cause of death is given as a stomach cancer. John Luke Clennell, the son of the engraver and poet Luke Clennell (1781-1840), paid tribute to his old friend in the poem below, dated 16 July 1844:

                            If honest, manly, unpretending worth
                            May justly claim from us a tribute dear,
                            And those who were respected whilst on earth,
                            Deserve a passing dirge sung o’er their bier,
                            Then may I write me ROBERT GILCHRIST here.
                            No vain and empty words are these to tell
                            A tale of sorrow in an idle rhyme;
                            I knew the simple-hearted fellow well,
                            And felt his kindness also many a time.
                            Thus it is fitting memory should dwell
                            In pensive sadness on a man who gave
                            Good cause for us to sorrow o’er his grave,
                            And that the Muse bear record with a sigh,
                            When now it is the poet’s lot to die. 

Dr Paul Gilchrist

Saturday, 12 November 2016

A PRAYER FOR THE LONERS






















 



 




The dejected men,
the lone voices,
slip away
in this seaside rain.
Their words shudder to a standstill
in dismal corners.
Frightened to shout,
they cower
behind quivering faces.
No one listens
to their memories crying.
There seems no point
in this democratic deficit.
For years, they just shuffle along,
hopeless
in their financial innocence.
They do have names
that no lovers pronounce.
They flit between stools,
miss out on gales of laughter.
Who cares for them?
Nobody in Whitley Bay
or canny Shields,
that’s for sure.
These wayside fellows
might as well be in a saddos’ heaven
for all it matters
in the grey world’s backwaters.
Life has bruised them,
dashed them.
Bones flake into the night.
I feel like handing them all loud hailers
to release 
their oppressed passion,
to move them
to scream
red murder at their leaders -
those they never voted for;
those who think they’re something,
some thing special,
grand.
For, in the end,
I am on the side of these stooped lamenters,
the lonely old boys with a grievance
about caring
and the uncaring;
about power,
and how switched off
this government is
from the isolated,
from the agitated,
from the trembling,
the disenfranchised
drinkers of sadness.

 



KEITH ARMSTRONG












Kenny Jobson absolutely excellent

Davide Trame This is a great, powerful poem

Libby Wattis Brilliant poem x

Gracie Gray Very evocative Keith. x


Sue Hubbard Very strong


David Henry Fantastic! A powerful and very moving poem 

Strider Marcus Jones A great poem full of so many truths.

Dominic Windram Great stuff Keith... always a vociferous voice for the voiceless! 

Siobhan Coogan Beautiful Keith you give a voice to the lonely