2020-21 - Ode to Poetry

Back in 1966 the finest British and American poets were reading at Morden Tower, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne at a time when they were unheard elsewhere in England.

In this ancient candlelit medieval turret room in the once walled city of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England; poets were given a forum to read their poems aloud, and to intimately connect with a deeply appreciative audience.

Poetry, like music, is to be heard

- Basil Bunting

The Tower readings were started by Connie and Tom Pickard in the summer of 1964 with an enthusiastic Tom soon seeking out local modernist poet Basil Bunting — who studied with Ezra Pound in 1920's Paris — to join in the readings. Inspired by the counterculture he found at the tower, 65 year old Bunting started writing again and penned his modernist masterpiece Briggflatts, giving its debut reading at the Morden Tower in 1965.

Meanwhile the American Beat poets like Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg and and Black-Mountain poets Robert Creeley and Ed Dorn were lured to read at the tower by Tom Pickard - one of the few places outside of the US that welcomed the reading of Post-modern American Poetry.

The poetry revival was well on its way.

Morden Tower was smaller than I expected and less comfortable to sit around in, but I was so excited by the idea of reading with Bunting in the audience that I read for 3 hours.

- Allen Ginsberg
Ode to Poetry - The British Poetry Revival
Ode to Poetry - The British Poetry Revival

The portraits in Ode To Poetry celebrate many leading poets from the British Poetry Revival as well as the audience who provided a creative exchange which fed and strengthened their work to the enrichment of both parties.

The drawings are inspired by the photographs of the late David M James, which depict the North East poetry scene at Morden Tower in Newcastle, the Colpitts in Durham, and other poetry venues in the 1960's and 1970's (and used with the permission of his family).

You've ruined my evening, you've ruined my life
You've ruined my evening, you've ruined my life , 2021 Charcoal on Fabriano paper 30x42cm SOLD Portrays: Elaine Feinstein, British poet, founder of Prospect magazine, and the first publisher of Beat poetry in Britain.
Poetry credit: You've Ruined My Evening / You've Ruined My Life, Tom Raworth
Poet appointed dare not decline
Poet appointed dare not decline , 2021 Charcoal on Fabriano paper 30x42cm SOLD Portrays: Richard Kell, Irish poet reading at Morden Tower
Poetry credit: Briggflatts, Basil Bunting
Yacketayakking
Yacketayakking , 2020 Charcoal on Fabriano paper 30x42cm SOLD Portrays: Brian Whaley, a Lifelong jazz enthusiast and the artist's inspiration for this exploration of counterculture in North East England.
Poetry credit: Howl, Allen Ginsburg // Photography credit: Steve Barrett
Sitting in firelight, your face a shadow
Sitting in firelight, your face a shadow , 2021 Charcoal on Fabriano paper 30x42cm AU$400 Framed
Portrays: Tom Pickard, an important initiator of the British Poetry Revival together with Connie Piackard. Tom and Connie founded the Morden Tower reading series together.
Poetry credit: Sitting in firelight, Tom Pickard
Private Tenderness
Private Tenderness , 2021 Ink on Canson paper 30x42cm AU$400 Framed
Portrays: Cynthia Fuller, English poet and editor
Poetry credit: Durham, Tony Harrison
Vanished into nowhere Zen
Vanished into nowhere Zen , 2021 Ink & Charcoal on Canson paper 42x30cm AU$400 Framed
Portrays: Dave Westerley, a frequent attendee at the Morden Tower readings.
Poetry credit: Howl, Allen Ginsburg
Look through my eyes up at blue
Look through my eyes up at blue , 2020 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm AU$200 Framed
Portrays: Unknown audience member at Colpitts
Poetry credit: Enter a Cloud, W.S. Graham
You're on your own / It's off / It's on
You're on your own / It's off / It's on , 2020 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm AU$200 Framed
Portrays: Unknown audience member
Poetry credit: Beautiful Habit, Tom Raworth
Words can make no difference now
Words can make no difference now , 2020 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm SOLD Portrays: David Burnett, Scottish poet and co-founder of Colpitts Poetry, one of the UK's most prestigious live poetry reading organisations.
Poetry credit: Unlearned, David Burnett
I was that boy who fell to earth
I was that boy who fell to earth , 2021 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm SOLD Portrays: Tony Lopez, English poet who was one of the younger members of the British Poetry Revival. He later became Professor of Poetry at the University of Plymouth.
Poetry credit: About Cambridge, Tony Lopez
I know this world's so torn but I want no other
I know this world's so torn but I want no other , 2020 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm SOLD Portrays: Tony Harrison, English poet and playwright, widely considered to be one of Britain's greatest living poets.
Poetry credit: V, Tony Harrison
Hello Mr Cutler
Hello Mr Cutler , 2021 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm AU$200 Framed
Portrays: Ivor Cutler, Scottish poet who regularly performed his humorous poems in his soft Scottish burr on the legendary John Peel BBC radio sessions. Ivor also played the bus conductor in the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour film.
Poetry credit: Irk, Ivor Cutler
It's love, so there
It's love, so there , 2020 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm SOLD Portrays: Rosemarie Harrison, artist and first wife of Tony Harrison (nee Rosemarie Crossfield Dietzsch).
Poetry credit: The White Queen, Tony Harrison
I grew up ~ a solitary child
I grew up ~ a solitary child , 2020 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm SOLD Portrays: Unknown
Poetry credit: Going "home", Wendy Mulford // Photography credit: Steve Barrett
Don't imagine (ever) an ending
Don't imagine (ever) an ending , 2020 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm AU$200 Framed
Portrays: Wendy Mulford, Welsh poet associated with the British Poetry Revival and the development of feminist poetry in the 1970s.
Poetry credit: No More Parades, Wendy Mulford
No fuss, no fret
No fuss, no fret , 2021 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm AU$200 Framed
Portrays: Gael Turnbull, Scottish poet and an important figure in the British Poetry Revival. Gael was instrumental in developing ties between the avant-garde British poets and American poets.
Poetry credit: A little celebration, Gael Turnbull
Open, the bright petals on her outspread wings
Open, the bright petals on her outspread wings , 2020 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm AU$200 Framed
Portrays: Anne Cluysenaar, Belgian born poet and painter who established the literary magazines, Scintilla and Sheaf before her untimely death.
Poetry credit: Batu-Angas, Anne Cluysensaar (adapted)
As the years slide by
As the years slide by , 2021 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm SOLD Portrays: Connie Pickard, co-founder of the Morden Tower reading series. The Tower Reading Room is still running today with Connie at the helm.
Poetry credit: The Books, Lee Harwood
Her arms outstretched
Her arms outstretched , 2021 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm AU$200 Framed
Portrays: Unknown audience member
Poetry credit: A Coney Island of the Mind, 6, Lawrence Ferlinghetti
I am as ever beside you
I am as ever beside you , 2021 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm SOLD Portrays: Unknown audience member
Poetry credit: Poem of this Poem, Andrew Crozier
Where's the JAZZ, man, where?
Where's the JAZZ, man, where? , 2021 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm SOLD Portrays: Brian Whaley, a Lifelong jazz enthusiast and the artist's inspiration for this exploration of counterculture in North East England.
Poetry credit: Requiem for BIRD, Gregory Corso (adapted) // Photography credit: Steve Barrett
I put out the light and listen to the rain
I put out the light and listen to the rain , 2021 Ink on canvas panel 10x10cm SOLD Portrays: John Riley, English poet who was murdered at the height of the British Poetry Revival in 1978. His poetry became so hard to find in print that a rare volume was selling for GBP10,000.
Poetry credit: Second Fragment, John Riley