Thursday, 22 August 2013

Malawi Poem

On the road in Malawi pupils walk to school
Cyclists transport family livestock and furniture
Lorries fight with the dust while monkeys meander
Branches worn of a funeral
Women walk for water
By the roadside girls sit and knit boys pull wired cars
Women work and wash babies play in the dust
Men sit in the shade and watch
Piles of stone and wood wait
Thirsty folk dig in dry river beds
Children chew cane wear white smiles and wave
At the market stalls sell all ;eggs sit side by side with soap
Everyone welcomes with beaming mouths
They have so little yet smile so much
By the lake bourgainvillea blossoms eagles dive men  and  
kingfishers fish
All wallow in waterA lone canoeist paddled a coffin across 
the lake
Lots of coffin shops on the roadside
Heaven Bound Funeral Parlour
A lone canoeist paddled a coffin across the lake
Zikoma Thankyou for coming to my country said an old man.
The sun set in the ochre dust sky

Mary Atkinson
(Winner of the Warkworth Show Poetry Competition, 2013)


Thursday, 15 August 2013


'The one faculty with which school infallibly endures its pupils, that of being bored. It is very important, of course, that every child should, in the course of time, become fitted with this negative capability. If they didn't have it, they'd never put up with the jobs they are going to get, most of them, on leaving school. Boredom or the ability to endure it, is the hub on which the whole universe of work turns.' Jack Common.

Monday, 5 August 2013



Drab December day,
Wooler sleepwalks through half-lit dawn.
Alone in north Northumberland,
silent beside giggling burn & primed.
The easy track leads on.
Reastead revisited
& bullocks eyeing with suspicion,
Hart Heugh, stone-strewn & ancient,
drifts in & out of sight.
Pheasants shriek at Switcherdown,
a single tree & tumbled stones.
Little remains, only a witches ghost.
Cold Law, head in the clouds,
feet in the bare winter valley,
a reluctant, retiring host.
A red grouse warns, `go-back, back, back`,
but up past boundary stone to summit cairn,
drenched to its own skin, sullen.
Carling Crag, shrouded & mysterious,
dissolves once seen
& then to Carey Burn
bristling, scurrying downstream. Pell-mell.
The linn, grey, flood-washed rock,
white beard reminding me
it is Christmas time.
But, first, the Hellpath,
tree-lined & saturated,
strength-sapping as it angles skywards.
The sting in the long tail home.


(In memory of W. Ford Robertson)

Wooler, up with the larks
& the 9:25 train to Kirknewton
steaming beneath Yeavering.
Bowmont seeping into Glendale
& the sky blossoming with summer.
August, honey-sweet, brushes past,
the day still young.
Comfortable with your long stride,
boots glide over ancient rocks.
A bag, packed for the day,
slung over broad shoulders,
two yards of strong twine
& a kettle ready for the boil.
A stout stick, swings in tune,
a countryside concerto.
A grouse breaks cover, startles,
flies free over Commonburn.
Quiet on Tom Tallon`s Crag,
clouds build over Cheviot
& on over Black Law, Gains Law,
Drythropple basking in sunlight,
then Humbleton`s pond, reflective,
& the village green.
Wooler waits your whistling return
& a meal fit for a king.

Eighty years on
& I struggle to keep pace.


A cool breeze
and dappled light over Alwinton,
Coquetdale`s last,
an English rose, sleeps on.
A fox slips behind blackthorn,
snowdrops break rank
and daffodils bow their heads.
and the naked limbs of hawthorn.
Spring stirs
beneath hills brushed with snow.
Footsteps quicken,
Clennell Street draws breath,
climbs past Castle Hills
and Yarnspath Law to Hexpethgate.
Then down to Cocklawfoot
where burns collide.
Here the thistle thrives
and an old road strikes north.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Community of Poets

The Tyneside Poets of the 1970s have left two legacies. Latterly, this blog which, as well as forging international links, is a platform for new writing as well as an archive of poems from Poetry North East.

The more active component though is Northern Voices Community Projects, guided by Keith Armstrong and Pete Dixon, with a mission to promote poetry in the north east and beyond: www.northernvoicescommunityprojects.co.uk

The beyond part is presently being realised by a fledgling poetry group and its blog – www.barnsleyvoice.wordpress.con – founded in conjunction with the U3A. South Yorkshire may seem some way from Tyneside, but, way back the Barnsley area was part of the Kingdom of Northumbria.

Rather more important than tenuous links is the emergence of a small but growing kernel of poets finding their voices, many for the first time. Beth Rudkin had not written poetry previously to joining the group, but is beginning to develop her own style.

Today I Went to Gordale Scar

The approach to it is charming:
Rippling waters, celandines, primroses,
Grasses, trees
And bumble bees.
Thriving, wonderful life.

Then you turn the corner.

Huge cliffs blend together
Conspiring, sides pleated,
Grey and overwhelming.
They are the Ancient of Days,
Water falls with vicious force,
But there is no life.

Life. It is pretty, joyful,
Sometimes sad, always short.
Is it significant?
“No!” say the cliffs,
“We have been here for millennia.
We will be here for ever.
We are significant.”

I retrace my steps.

                                                                             Beth Rudkin

Using his pen-name Shaun Adam, a former journalist from Pakistan is keen to expand his writing from his natural tongue, Urdu, and become a bilingual poet.

I and Morning-star

Burning sky turned black
And night fell
Stars set in shining
Laying down at the roof-top
Gazing and counting them
Knowing they are countless
In melancholy looking for my luck-star
I have done this for ages

Sleep on the shoulders of thoughts
Descended down the eyes
Ascending hope resisted the invaders
The fight continued
Till the morning-star saluted the darkness

Faraway in the Milky-way
Broke a star silently
Drawing a glowing ray behind
On its course to earth

Stunned but confident
The falling star was mine
The hope yielded to intruders
I and morning-star succumbed to sleep

                                                                                            Shaun Adam

These are only two of the Barnsley Voice group and it is perhaps unfair on the others to highlight this couple. However, as the group was founded by a Northern Voices Community Projects associate, who also remains associate editor of Poetry Tyneside despite his move south, there will be future opportunities for other group members to contribute their work to this blog.

Dave Alton