EXCITING TIMES AHEAD FOR NEWCASTLE'S MINING INSTITUTE
The historic Mining Institute on Westgate Road, Newcastle is a gem of a building ideally suited to literary and arts events. With this in mind, in addition to the Institute's regular series of talks and lectures, an exciting programme of community arts events will start next year. These events have been put together by the Mining Institute's new writer in residence Dr Keith Armstrong of Northern Voices Community Projects.
COMMUNITY ARTS EVENTS IN THE MINING INSTITUTE LIBRARY, NEWCASTLE IN 2013:
Wednesday January 16th 2013 7.30pm.
Northern Voices Community Projects Annual Award event. Presentation of annual Northern Voices Community Projects Joseph Skipsey Award and commemoration of the Hartley Pit Disaster with poems and songs. This event launches Dr Keith Armstrong's writing residency at the Mining Institute and will also mark the 45th anniversary of the death of Newcastle writer Jack Common and the 110th of his birth, with readings from his works and songs by local folk group 'Kiddar's Luck' and by Gary Miller. Plus readings from a Manifesto for Northumbria.
Tuesday September 3rd 2013 7.30pm.
Northern Voices Community Projects. A special event to mark the 110th anniversary of the death of Tyneside pitman poet Joseph Skipsey (1832-1903) with songs and readings.
Other events will include a celebration of the mining heritage of North East England in poetry and song; and special folk music events, with famous guests, in the historic Lecture Theatre. Details to be announced in 2013.
THE MINING INSTITUTE'S NEW WRITER IN RESIDENCE:
Doctor Keith Armstrong – Poet and Scholar
Born in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, where he has worked as a community development worker, poet, librarian and publisher, Keith Armstrong, now residing in Whitley Bay, is coordinator of the Northern Voices Community Projects creative writing and community publishing enterprise which specialises in recording the experiences of people in the North East of England. He has organised several community arts festivals in the region and many literary events featuring the likes of Yevgeny Yevtushenko (in 1976 at the Mining Institute), Douglas Dunn, Barry Hines, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Katrina Porteous, Adrian Mitchell,Benjamin Zephaniah and Liz Lochhead.
He was founder of Ostrich poetry magazine, Poetry North East, Tyneside Writers' Workshop, Tyneside Poets, East Durham Writers' Workshop, Tyneside Trade Unionists for Socialist Arts, Tyneside Street Press and the Strong Words and Durham Voices community publishing series.
He has recently compiled and edited books on the Durham Miners’ Gala and on the former mining communities of County Durham, the market town of Hexham and North Tyneside.
He qualified as a Chartered Librarian at Newcastle Polytechnic and was employed in this field at Newcastle University Library, Blyth Public Library,International Research and Development Company (I.R.D., Newcastle), Merz & McLellan Consulting Engineers (Killingworth), Gateshead College and Sunderland Libraries, before becoming a community worker with Newcastle Neighbourhood Projects (part of Community Projects Foundation), research worker with Tyneside Housing Aid Centre, and then Community Arts Development Worker (1980-6) with Peterlee Community Arts (later East Durham Community Arts).
As an industrial librarian at IRD., he was christened 'Arts & Darts', organising an events programme in the firm incuding poetry readings,theatrical productions, and art exhibitions by his fellow workers, as well as launching Ostrich poetry magazine using the firm's copying facilities and arranging darts matches between departments!
He has been a self employed writer since 1986 and he was awarded a doctorate in 2007 for his work on Newcastle writer Jack Common at the University of Durham where he received a BA Honours Degree in Sociology in 1995 and Masters Degree in 1998 for his studies on regional culture in the North East of England. His book on Jack Common 'Common Words and the Wandering Star' was published by the University of Sunderland Press in 2009.
His poetry has been extensively published in magazines and he has performed it throughout the world. In his youth, he travelled to Paris to seek out the grave of poet Charles Baudelaire and he has been making cultural pilgrimages abroad ever since. He has toured to Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Poland, Iceland (including readings during the Cod War), Denmark, France, Germany (including readings at the Universities of Hamburg, Kiel, Oldenburg, Trier and Tuebingen), Luxembourg, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Isle of Man, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Cuba, Jamaica and Kenya.
As writer in residence at the Mining Institute, Keith will not only organise a programme of events but will also look at ways of exploring the amazing archives of the Institute in exciting and original ways.
Poems by Doctor Keith Armstrong:
HARTLEY PIT DISASTER JANUARY 16TH 1862
‘What was it there on Hartley heap, caused the mother and child to weep?’ (George Cooke)
Cold January’s gripped our throbbing hearts and torn them.
Still the sea rolls on.
This earth’s bowells stink of our loved one’s deaths,
the air tastes foul.
Still the sea rolls on.
They don black gloves,
drag out the bodies one by one.
The death-stained faces seem to smile.
Still the sea rolls on.
We are the widows of Hartley,
our men and boys are dead,
our lives cracked open,
damp corpses in our beds.
Still the sea rolls on.
We clutch cold messages from Dukes and Queens,
we wipe the coal dust from our widowed eyes.
The coffin makers’ heavy hammers beat,
keep time with lapping parlour clocks,
the sea rolls on,
still the sea rolls on.
Still the sea,
we are the widows of Hartley,
our men and boys are dead.
Take away your stumbling words and
GIVE US BREAD.
(FOR MY FATHER)
You picked splinters
with a pin each day
from und er blackened fingernails;
shreds of metal
from the shipyard grime,
minute memories of days swept by:
the dusty remnants of a life
spent in the shadow of the sea;
the tears in your shattered eyes
at the end of work.
And your hands were strong,
so sensitive and capable
of building boats
and nursing roses;
a kind and gentle man
who never hurt a soul,
the sort of quiet knackered man
who built a nation.
Dad, I watched your ashes float away
down to the ocean bed
and in each splinter
I saw your caring eyes
and gracious smile.
I think of your strong silence every day
and I am full of you,
the waves you scaled,
and all the sleeping Tyneside streets
you taught me to dance my fleeting feet along.
When I fly, you are with me.
I see your fine face
in sun-kissed clouds
and in the gold ring on my finger,
and in the heaving crowd on Saturday,
and in the lung of Grainger Market,
and in the ancient breath
of our own Newcastle.
STILL THE SEA ROLLS ON
THE HARTLEY PIT CALAMITY OF 1862:
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, was launched at the Mining Institute in January 2012 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Calamity. With historical documents and images, alongside poems, songs, stories, photographs and drawings by local people, it formed part of a series of events and activities intended to ensure that the story of Hartley is not forgotten.
COPIES CAN BE OBTAINED FROM:
NORTHERN VOICES COMMUNITY PROJECTS, 93 WOODBURN SQUARE,WHITLEY BAY, TYNE & WEAR NE26 3JD TEL 0191 2529531
PRICE £7.99 (ADD £2 POSTAGE)
Read more about Doctor Keith Armstrong and Northern Voices Community Projects:
CONTACT SIMON BROOKS AT THE MINING INSTITUTE FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ON ALL OF THE ABOVE: TEL 0191 2332459.