Tuesday, 2 September 2014


The Month Of The Asparagus
Keith Armstrong, Ward Wood Publishing, £8.99

This volume of poems from Newcastle born Keith Armstrong collects together a selection of his work, culled from the last thirty years, and displays the real depth of his talent. He has an obvious and enduring affection for the region that really comes across in lines which exalt the sights and sounds he sees around him. ‘Marsden Rock’ is a “Sensational Rock / swimming in light” and “Birds hurl themselves at the leaping Tyne” in ‘At Anchor’; and he has the kind of voice that you might hear in your own head when you’re caught on the cusp of being drunk; a woozy melancholy that is romantic but also given over to bouts of searing realism. His romanticism also touches on his love for other chroniclers of life including the painter Lowry (“His old boots squeak the floorboards of memory, / his heart is sad and soaked in loneliness”) and the great engraver Thomas Bewick. He has travelled extensively (one poem sees him cropping up at Baudelaire’s grave) but his voice – wherever he finds himself – always alternates between the sharp and the sensual. RM

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