Archives for the month of: January, 2016

Poetry with Friends is a poetry appreciation group with a difference. In fact it comprises of two groups. There’s our  Thursday morning one which meets in Whitley Bay library every fortnight and then there’s the Tuesday evening one in Boo Boo and Ted.   I co-organise these groups but they power along with the energy of our regular attendees. Some of them are members of both groups.

poets at WB

We share poems by published authors as well as our own. So far this year we’ve shared work by Adrian Mitchell, Ted Hughes, Joyce Grenfell, Brian Patten, Elizabeth Jennings, Tom Kelly, Mary Oliver, Wilfred Owen, W.H Davies, Moniza Alvi, Noreen Rees, Thomas Hardy, Robbie Burns plus work by our gang: Rowland, Gail, Alan, Jackie, John and James.


We’ve decided to compile our very own Top Ten Poems. Well, inevitably it will be Top 50 or Top 100 with all members submitting up to five favourite poems to Gail by the beginning of March. Where will I start? Will my poetic cornerstones feature: Plath, Larkin, cummings and Stevie Smith? Hmmm.

stevie smith

For more info on Poetry with Friends and creative workshops run by Gail and I visit



I’m running two writing workshops in Whitley Bay in the nearish future. They’re both in the evening at Boo Boo and Ted, 264 Whitley Road in Whitley Bay town centre.

The first one’s on Tuesday 2nd February from 7pm to 9pm. It’s a Haiku workshop. The enduring appeal of Haiku rests on the capturing the essence of a moment (usually involving nature) in a three line poem. Come and learn about Haiku and have a go at writing a few of your own.

The second one’s called Writing the Unwritten and takes place on Thurs 3rd March from 7pm to 9pm. Every picture tells a story but do we ever get to learn what happens to all the characters we see in photographs? Are all loose ends tied up or left hanging? Come and have a go at writing the unwritten stories hinted at in photos and postcards.

For more info and to book pop into Boo Boo and Ted or visit Happy Planet’s website


The New Hartley Pit Disaster of 1862 claimed the lives of over 200 men and boys. It decimated a small but tight-knit Northumbrian community and even tugged at the heart strings of the recently widowed Queen Victoria.

Last Thursday 16th January  marked the 154th anniversary of the start of a week-long attempt to save the doomed souls entombed below frozen ground inside Hartley’s Hester pit.


In 2012 I contributed a poem, History Lesson, to a locally produced book, Still the Sea Rolls On, commemorating the lives lost and affected by the tragedy. I’ve performed History Lesson in Newcastle’s Mining Institute, in Woodhorn church and beside the Hartley Disaster Memorial in Earsdon’s churchyard.

chris Harrison

My work for the project brought me into contact with Chris Harrison, a London-based musician and the great-great grandson of pitman poet Joseph Skipsey. Joe is best known for his poem The Hartley Calamity which he performed at benefit gigs to raise money for and awareness of the plight of approximately 400 men, women and children bereaved and left destitute by the tragedy of January 1862.


Chris has set his ancestor’s words to music and it was a delight to see and hear Chris perform last night in New Hartley’s Community Hall. Chris was part of the 13th Annual Memorial Concert for the Pit Disaster organised by local singing group Beeswing.  Chris felt like he was bringing Joe’s Hartley poem “home.” I think we all felt touched by that.

Headliners in the second half of the gig were Teesside’s sensational, The Wilsons. If you haven’t heard this loud, proud close harmony singing group then I’m surprised. They don’t need amplication! Their glorious sound filled the hall then later in the local pub for an impromptu singing session. Their version of When I Die I’ll Live Again in the lounge of that local pub was astonishing.



Happy New Year and all that. I’ve not blogged for over a month. Ran out of energy last year but the New Year brings a burst of energy and a creative boost. Or should that be a kick up the backside? Thanks to artistic pal and Poetry with Friends sidekick, Gail Curry for that. Here’s some of her work I wore earlier this winter…


Gail’s been working hard. First she moved her studio to Whitley Bay and now she’s just launched the Happy Planet Creative Arts CIC programme of workshops for 2016. She’s put me to shame with her industry so here’s a plug for all of them.

Do you fancy having a go at Art Journaling or needle felting or Lino Cut or Gelli plate? How about participating in a Haiku Poetry workshop or have a go at “Writing the Unwritten”?  How about getting involved with Craftivism?

Tempting? Then visit Gail at Boo Boo and Ted at 264 Whitley Road in Whitley’s town centre or visit her website for details on all courses. Get yourself booked on a course and start this year the way you mean to go on.


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