Thursday, 5 March 2009

Why is North East England important in the world of poetry?

I may have given regular readers cause to think that North East England is the centre of the poetry world. (Or indeed the world period.) Further evidence of that, if it were needed, can be found – if you’re quick – in a Radio 4 programme by Lee Hall of Billy Elliot/Pitman Painters fame. This looks at the Northern working class tradition of poetry, in particular the influence of Basil Bunting on Tom Pickard, Barry MacSweeney and others involved in Morden Tower and the Newcastle Poetry Scene in the 60s (and subsequently.) It’s a great programme – not just for poetry buffs but for anyone interested in Lee Hall’s ongoing analysis of the role of class in cultural life. If you come across this post after it’s been taken down from the BBC i-player, have a dig around Morden Tower’s website and be sure to check out the brilliant Flickr sets of photos by David James.

There’s some brilliant recordings of Bunting, and of tv and radio coverage of Briggflatts, too. Giving similar pleasures is this bit of footage Neil Astley of Bloodaxe has recently shared, which tells the Bloodaxe story, but in 1985, when they were but bairns, and very much pre-digital in their production methods. Neil and Simon Thirsk may have aged slightly, but sadly not so much as the prospect of regional telly giving more than 10 minutes to coverage of a poetry publisher…

It being the 5th of March, and as I’ve just mentioned Billy Eliot, here’s a Miners’ Strike 25th Anniversary link to some of Side Gallery’s archive: to a project capturing (pun intended) Easington in August 1984.


Anonymous said...

Hello Mark, good to see someone from the Arts Council getting into the Web 2.0 thing. I've put your RSS feed on the Social Arts Network . I hope that's OK with you.
Matthew Taylor - Escape Artists

Mark Robinson said...

-That's grand by me - thanks Matthew