I’m looking forward to supporting Kevin P Gilday at the Cumberland Arms on Friday with his The Man Who Loved Beer show.

kevin p gilday

Described as “part spoken word performance, part drunken monologue – ‘The Man Who Loved Beer’ dissects a life experienced through the haze of casual alcoholism with all the riotous nights out, sexual misadventures and profuse vomiting that entails. Oh and the fear, don’t forget the fear.”

The Man Who Loved Beer is also a song by Lambchop and that’s a good enough reason to include a pic of TV classic Lambchop.


Back to  Friday evening and there’s also support from singer/songwriter, George Sharpe and poet Vinny McHugh.

The evening kicks off at 7.30pm in the upstairs of the Cumberland Arms in Byker.



The Counsel of Trees is a fantastic poem by Vicky Arthurs. I shared it at Poetry with Friends at The Mission tonight. I’d set tonight’s theme at our last session. We had discussed local councils so I suggested Council/Counsel as tonight’s theme.

We shared a range of poems by Robert Browning, Alice Walker, Spike Milligan, Michael Longley, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Walt Whitman, Hentry Normal, Hillare Belloc, Pam Ayres and everyone’s fave poet, Anon.

alice walker

Poetry with Friends regulars Harry, Elizabeth and Ken shared their own poems. Subject matter ranged from the sea, eclipses to the wisdom of Nana.

The next Poetry with Friends at The Mission will take place on Tuesday 21st April.

We’re a very friendly group and new attenders are always welcome. The only thing we ask is that you book a place, so we know how many people to expect.

You can book via email to gail@happyplanetcreativearts.org.uk

Happy Planet

Anne Proctor and I’s latest book, Souvenir of Tynemouth is now on sale. Buy it from our stalls at Tynemouth’s weekend market.

Here’s a shot of the first print run!

souvenircover003For more information about Anne’s work visit her blog https://anneproctor.wordpress.com/


Sinead O’Connor, Bjork and Sir David Attenborough popped up in conversation at yesterday’s Poetry with Friends at Whitley Bay Library.

We had lively debate encrusted with fantastic poems delivered beautifully. Highlights for me were newcomer Jeff/Geoff’s amazing poem about penguins, Joyce’s reading of A Policeman’s Lot by Wendy Cope  and Elizabeth’s astonishing rendition of Eliot’s The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock.


We also enjoyed poems by Amy Lowell, Josephine Scott, Shakespeare, Robert Browning, Kathleen Raine and others.

NPG P1680; Kathleen Raine by Rollie McKenna

Our next Poetry with Friends at Whitley Bay will take place on Maundy Thursday, April 2nd at 11 am in Whitley Libary.

In the meantime we have Poetry with Friends at The Mission this coming Tuesday at 7pm. The theme is Counsel/Council.

For more information on both Poetry with Friends groups please visit http://www.happyplanetcreativearts.org.uk/p/whats-on.html

Happy Planet


The theme for tonight’s Poetry with Friends at The Mission was “Numbers”, suggested last time by The Legendary Ken Creen. I had forgotten this but that didn’t matter. Most of the friends brought number-related poems…and cake and biccies.


Featured poets included A P Herbert, Edward Thomas, Philip Larkin, Mary Cornish, Tara Bergin and Wes Magee.

Benjamin Zephaniah and Adrian Mitchell both featured twice and Alan performed two of his poems.He also produced a birthday cake for me in the break and got me to blow out the candles and make a wish. I didn’t need to. All my wishes have come true thanks to Happy Planet!

Happy Planet

And Happy Birthday to Happy Planet: one year old on Friday 13th!

Our next session at The Mission will be on Tuesday 24th March. The theme is Council/Counsel. Please visit Happy Planet’s site for more details http://www.happyplanetcreativearts.org.uk/

I’ve been collaborating with artist and printmaker, Anne Proctor for over two years. We met, inevitably, at Tynemouth Station’s weekend market where we both have stalls, hit it off and started collaborating.

Anne’s created three beautiful handmade books filled with her images and words and my words: Allotments No 1, Swifts Screech and Circle in the Afternoon Sun and Waspish (made out of a Wasps’ nest).


Our next book, Souvenir of Tynemouth is almost finished and will be available for sale at my gig at Jam Jar Cinema on March 22nd, from Anne and I’s stalls at Tynemouth market plus Anne’s Moonkwayk Studio store on Etsy.

I’m blown away by Anne’s artistic response to my poem about a place we know well: Tynemouth Station. Check out Anne’s blog https://anneproctor.wordpress.com/ for snippets about the book but your best bet is holding the book in your hands. It is a work of art.


I’m thoroughly looking forward to performing Souvenir of Tynemouth at The Jam Jar Cinema on March 22nd. I will be performing alongside poet George Jowett

George jowett

and the musical duo The Primates (they devised and run the Whitley Bay Film Festival, you know…)

The Primates

For tickets and more information visit http://www.jamjarcinema.com

jam jar



Another great Poetry with Friends session at The Mission last night. No theme but we talked rock and roll, teenage years, Laurel and Hardy, childhoods, crows, Hank Marvin, education, French Hugenots, life stories shared at bus stops on Tyneside and the concept that we’re all “from somewhere else.”

Three friends shared their own work with the group and there were three poems by Martin Newell, two by Roger McGough plus poems by Ivor Cutler, T.S Eliot, Mary Oliver, Colette Bryce, Chris Harland, Pam Ayres, Ted Hughes, Lavinia Greenlaw, Patti Smith and Wilfred Owen.


Miners by Wilfred Owen got to me:

There was a whispering in my hearth, A sigh of the coal, Grown wistful of a former earth It might recall.

I listened for a tale of leaves And smothered ferns, Frond-forests, and the low sly lives Before the fauns.

My fire might show steam-phantoms simmer From Time’s old cauldron, Before the birds made nests in summer, Or men had children.

But the coals were murmuring of their mine, And moans down there Of boys that slept wry sleep, and men Writhing for air.

And I saw white bones in the cinder-shard, Bones without number. Many the muscled bodies charred, And few remember.

I thought of all that worked dark pits Of war, and died Digging the rock where Death reputes Peace lies indeed.

Comforted years will sit soft-chaired, In rooms of amber; The years will stretch their hands, well-cheered By our life’s ember;

The centuries will burn rich loads With which we groaned, Whose warmth shall lull their dreaming lids, While songs are crooned; But they will not dream of us poor lads,

Left in the ground.

John said he missed having a theme and the majority agreed so the theme for our next sesh on Tuesday March 19th is Numbers, suggested by the legendary Ken Creen.

I’ve been involved with Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC for eight months and thoroughly enjoy our Poetry with Friends sessions in North Shields and Whitley Bay.

On Thursday I accompanied Happy Planet’s Gail Curry to the Ixion Business Awards in North Tyneside. Happy Planet had been shortlisted for  the ‘Community Impact Award’ and I held my breath when the Duke of Northumberland read out the Runner-Up prize-winner….Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC! Ta Dah!!

award pic

I clapped long and hard as  Gail went up for the award. What a thumbs up for a CIC less than a year old!! Gail has written on her blog:

A big THANK YOU to all of our ‘friends’ @ Happy Planet, as well as the organisations and individuals who understand and facilitate our participation in community life. I am constantly inspired to do more and grow our little creative planet because of you all. This is ‘our’ award and you can all be proud of the part you have played in the journey we have undertaken so far in our first 11 months.

I look forward to talking about the award ceremony at our next Poetry with Friends in Whitley Bay Library session this coming Thursday 19th at 11 am.

Happy Planet

Happy Planet

Last night’s Poetry with Friends was exceptional. Every aspect of the session worked. The group has well and truly bonded, aided by existing friendships outside of the fortnightly sessions. I’m delighted to see new friendships popping up like snowdrops as a result of Poetry with Friends.

This was our first session of 2015. The theme was Beginnings but we decided we won’t need to set themes for future evenings as the dialogue flows on its own.

Chat, laughs, poems, claps. Echoes of ideas and sentiments. Values aired and shared. Four attendees read out their own work. Natural links: Ruth Padel (Charles Darwin’s great-great grandchild) to Carol Ann Duffy’s poem about Mrs Darwin. Holocaust Memorial Day to Sylvia Plath, ee cummings’ in just spring to Sappho’s My Love it is spring. David mentioned the word “hipster” and Ken quoted Ginsberg’s Howl at length. This was verbal jamming..a world away from stitled conversation and “how are they wife and kids?”

Allen Ginsberg - 1979

Poetry matters. Friends matter. Our Poetry with Friends sessions mean something to us all. We ended the evening discussing bullies from playground horrors, workplace rotters via familial monsters to world stage dictators. As Tracey Thorn sings in Little Hitler: “Little Hitlers, Little Hitlers grow into Big Hitlers. Look what they do”. The song also half quotes Sylvia Plath and that takes me back to the natural links of last night’s session.


I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated last night in The Mission. Join us next time on February 10th. No theme. No rules (apart from pre-booking with Gail gail@happyplanetcreativearts.org.uk ) and definitely no bullies.

The theme for today’s Poetry with Friends was “As You Like it” although the rest of the group told me the theme was “Bring your favourite poem.”

I’d shoved a copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnets in my bag but wound up sharing Miroslav Holub, Wendy Cope and Maura Dooley.

maura dooley

The  rest of the gang shared poems including  Shelley’s Ozymandias, Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, Mrs Schofield’s GCSE by Carol Ann Duffy and Cradle Cap by Fiona Benson.

Newcomer Tess shared her own work…what a delight!

The conversation covered politics, feminism, poetry and education. As a result the subject of our next Poetry with Friends on the 5th of February is “Education, Education, Education.”

(Hey! Teacher! Leave Those Kids Alone!)




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.