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Old 10-28-2017, 05:46 PM   #1
Niggs
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Default Article - northern poetry

In a similar vein to the article on ‘Punk poetry’, the following is about what I personally term ‘Northern poetry’. I use this title simply to categorise what I feel are characteristics common to a number of poems from the north of England. I’m not suggesting these qualities only crop up in this part of the world but I feel enough do to warrant a category, if only for myself.
In the 1960’s, in the port of Liverpool there was, as many will know, I vibrant explosion of artistic expression through music, most famously by The Beatles but also bands such as The Scaffold, The Searchers and Gerry and the Pacemakers.
There were also a number of poets, influenced by the 50’s beat poets, who have gone down in history as ‘the Liverpool Poets’. Three of the most famous were Roger McGough, Brian Patten and Adrian Henri, who were published together in the 1967 anthology ‘the Mersey Sound’, which is still in print and has sold approx 500,000 copies.
These and other northern poets tend to be from working class backgrounds, attending college rather than universities, though there are of course exceptions.
Below are examples of the poetry I like from the north of England, in the ‘northern style’, there are the Liverpool lads of McGough and Patten, Manchester’s Tony Walsh and from Leeds Tony Harrison.
So what for me characterizes the ‘Northern’ style such as I see it. It possesses the following loose traits in various degrees.
It’s direct, uses simple expression and language, sometimes using vernacular, local idiom and slang.
In terms of subject the usual subjects of course, love. Loss, etc but also real life, social commentary, experience in their local environment, often humour, irony and sarcasm but always with a high degree of emotion and integrity.
I hope you enjoy and are inspired by the following:

Roger McGough -


Mrs Moon

Mrs Moon
sitting up in the sky
little old lady
rock-a-bye
with a ball of fading light
and silvery needles
knitting the night


The Sound Collector

A stranger called this morning
Dressed all in black and grey
Put every sound into a bag
And carried them away
The whistling of the kettle
The turning of the lock
The purring of the kitten
The ticking of the clock
The popping of the toaster
The crunching of the flakes
When you spread the marmalade
The scraping noise it makes
The hissing of the frying pan
The ticking of the grill
The bubbling of the bathtub
As it starts to fill
The drumming of the raindrops
On the windowpane
When you do the washing-up
The gurgle of the drain
The crying of the baby
The squeaking of the chair
The swishing of the curtain
The creaking of the stair
A stranger called this morning
He didn't leave his name
Left us only silence
Life will never be the same

Brian Patten -

When you wake tomorrow

I will give you a poem when you wake tomorrow.
It will be a peaceful poem.
It won’t make you sad.
It won’t make you miserable.
It will simply be a poem to give you
When you wake tomorrow.
It was not written by myself alone.
I cannot lay claim to it.
I found it in your body.
In your smile I found it.
Will you recognise it?
You will find it under your pillow.
When you open the cupboard it will be there.
You will blink in astonishment,
Shout out, ‘How it trembles!
Its nakedness is startling! How fresh it tastes!’
We will have it for breakfast;
On a table lit by loving,
At a place reserved for wonder.
We will give the world a kissing open
When we wake tomorrow.
We will offer it to the sad landlord out on the balcony.
To the dreamers at the window.
To the hand waving for no particular reason
We will offer it.
An amazing and most remarkable thing,
We will offer it to the whole human race
Which walks in us
When we wake tomorrow.

Party Piece

He said:
'Let's stay here
Now this place has emptied
And make gentle pornography with one another,
While the partygoers go out
And the dawn creeps in,
Like a stranger.
Let us not hesitate
Over what we know
Or over how cold this place has become,
But let's unclip our minds
And let tumble free
The mad, mangled crocodile of love.'
So they did,
There among the woodbines and guinness stains,
And later he caught a bus and she a train
And all there was between them then
was rain.

Tony Walsh -

Drunkle

He was our drunken Uncle James
but we all called him Drunkle Jimmy,
when he wasn’t there,
which was more often than not.
We told our cousin,
but she never laughed.

Found

All her life she was lost
until one day she was found
by a man walking his dog.

Someone

nowt = nothing, owt = anything, summat = something

And she made do wi’ nowt
And she never said owt.
But she shouldda said summat to someone.
If you haven’t got owt
You can never say owt
And she never got no help from no-one
But I’ll tell you summat
And I’ll tell you for nowt
See, she never did no harm to no-one
And she’d do owt for nowt
And she’d never tek owt
And that’s summat
should make you a someone.

Tony Harrison-


Jumper

When I want some sort of human metronome
to beat calm celebration out of fear
like that when German bombs fell round our home
It’s my mother’s needles, knitting, that I hear,
the click of needles, steady, though the walls shake.
The stitches, plain or purl were never dropped.
Bombs fell all that night until daybreak
but, not for a moment, did the knitting stop.
Though we shivered in the cellar-shelter’s cold
and the whistling bombs sent shivers through the walls
I know now why she made her scared child hold
the skeins she wound so calmly into balls.
We open presents wrapped before she died.
With that same composure shown in that attack
she’d known the time to lay her wools aside ---
the jumper I open’s shop-bought and is black !
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Old 10-29-2017, 01:06 AM   #2
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Nigel,
I was just closing down my computer when I looked into NT and there you were......
Thank you for the introduction in as you term 'Northern poetry'. So different; yet so very
interesting.

I personally was drawn to... Jumper...going back in history experiencing the German bombs; the cold cellar-shelter; Mothers needles - her scared child hold the skeins.
I was brought back in time.

I am still reeling with thoughts of the other poems as well.
Will close for it is 1:00 a.m. and time for me to head to a world of sleep.....with a smile on my face...

Gerry
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Old 10-29-2017, 03:19 AM   #3
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Nigel, I'm just reading and re-reading, I can't decide which appeals to me most, all stir something in me and all take me to the time I lived in London. Of course not through WW11 but instead to the times of the IRA.

I marvel at how calm we were, how we accepted the lockins wherever & whenever they occurred, oft at the hairdresser, the supermarket, the corner store & even home (St James diagonally opposite New Scotland Yard on one side & directly opposite head quarters for London Underground) walking past Debenhams once, looking ahead my husband & I hand in hand, wondering why all was so quiet on what had moments before been a busy day & to see the wildly gesticulating policewoman at the end of the lane, nearing her to hear bomb threat, run, take cover here in - a lock-in within a pub, DB & I taking it in our stride, daily occurrences & we in our jobs both trained what to do in the event of receiving the dreaded call.

I digress, your words of others have drawn from me emotions I thought long gone, how can one miss what was a harrowing time, & yet I do, I miss those days & the life we lead. I miss how calm we all were despite the terror we openly lived in. Once while I was the Duty Manager - the telephonist receiving the call & following our checklist to the letter, call metropolitan police and New Scotland Yard, we the staff, trained, we know the building, the furniture, the layout, to conduct the searches for anything suspicious & if found immediately quarantine & isolate the area, initiate evacuation & await the bomb squad.

In those days Nigel, we knew what we were doing, we went about our jobs as they even report now, Londoners are not phased, we've lived through much. Today, yesterday, & tomorrow much will be the same, and yet not.

I'm drawn perhaps to drunkle, our cousin never laughed, she lived through what I know only to well, what goes on behind closed doors, so different to what those on the outside looking in see, they see the funniness, the hilarity in moments, not the humiliation, sorrow & heartbreak.

Every poem though elicits thoughts of past & present. I can't help but wonder what today's poems will evoke 25-50 yrs down the track. Once again Nigel I thank you for transporting me beyond the moment I'm in. I truly hope your family & friends appreciate the man in their midst who with the will to commit can change the passage of ones thought. It's a gift beyond treasure, shared freely.
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Old 10-29-2017, 07:31 AM   #4
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Bless you, you're most kind Pamela
and likewise I enjoyed reading of your experiences immensely .

Best Wishes

Nigel
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Old 10-29-2017, 07:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ger715 View Post
Nigel,
I was just closing down my computer when I looked into NT and there you were......
Thank you for the introduction in as you term 'Northern poetry'. So different; yet so very
interesting.

I personally was drawn to... Jumper...going back in history experiencing the German bombs; the cold cellar-shelter; Mothers needles - her scared child hold the skeins.
I was brought back in time.

I am still reeling with thoughts of the other poems as well.
Will close for it is 1:00 a.m. and time for me to head to a world of sleep.....with a smile on my face...





Gerry





'Jumper' is my favourite too Geri,
thank you for your kind words.

My Best regards

Nigel
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Old 11-03-2017, 12:58 PM   #6
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I enjoyed the poems and your commentary
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Old 11-03-2017, 01:15 PM   #7
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I tell my son (25) he lives under the curse/blessing "May you live in interesting times." In 4th grade we ran to school with all the other frightened parents on 9/11 to pull out children close and try to keep themsafe. During the Washington Sniper months the school was under lock-down, a police car always watching outside the only unlocked door. I kid people now during Trump "Twins, MS, now I have to save the world from Fascism?" It never stops.
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