Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Splinters by Keith Armstrong, Hill Salad Books, £9.99

Keith Armstrong is a Geordie writer, steeped in local culture, whose pours seep with the grime lifted from the cobbles of Pudding Chare; whose blood is surely made up of the river Tyne and Brown Ale (when it was still brewed in the city, that is); and whose poems – fifty-three of them here – sing the praises of Newcastle’s “puddles and clarts”. This fine collection is chock full of ghosts and tributes to times and events past, as well as those who disappear under the radar (The Bird Woman of Whitley Bay). The author also checks out Garcia Lorca in Whitley Bay and implores William Blake to stand him another pint of Deuchars at The Bridge Hotel pub. His ire is reserved for the injustices of the world and those who seek to rechristen the city as NewcastleGateshead (“a city you made up for yourselves”) and their attempts to foist their version of culture on us (“You’ve reinvented our culture for us, you’ve rendered it meaningless. Guts ripped out”). A collection that looks inward to reveal wider truths. Bravo. RM

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