Keith Armstrong Collection

Scope and Content

The Collection contains much of Armstrong's work, not just in published form such as volumes of poetry, anthologies, magazine articles and interviews but also recording his long-running and varied performance work with material like posters,programmes, recordings and reviews. It also records his far-ranging collaborative work, both with other artists and notably as a facilitator for others in themed or local writing groups.

The formats of the material reflect the changing means and media in self-financed publishing in the later 20th century, from the co-operative local newspapers such as the Gateshead Street Press through all the changing technologies of copying, printing and publishing to the computer and the internet.

Administrative / Biographical History

Keith Armstrong was born and bred in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne, where he has worked as a community development worker, poet, librarian & publisher. He has been a self-employed writer since 1986 and completed a doctorate on Newcastle writerJack Common at the University of Durham in 2007, where he received a BA Honours Degree in Sociology in 1995 and Masters Degree in 1998 for his studies on regional culture in the North East of England. He was Year of the Artist 2000 poet-in-residenceat Hexham Races, working with painter Kathleen Sisterson. He was Community Arts Development Worker (1980-6) with Peterlee Community Arts (later East Durham Community Arts). He has compiled and edited books on the Durham Miners' Gala and on theformer mining communities of County Durham, the market town of Hexham and the heritage of North Tyneside.

His poetry has been extensively published in magazines such as New Statesman, Poetry Review, Dream Catcher, Other Poetry, Aesthetica, Iron, Salzburg Poetry Review and Poetry Scotland, as well as in the collections The Jingling Geordie, Dreaming North, Pains of Class andImagined Corners, on cassette, LP & CD, and on radio & TV. He has also written for music-theatre productions and hasperformed his poetry on several occasions at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and at Festivals in Aberdeen, Bradford, Cardiff, Cheltenham (twice at the Festival of Literature - with Liz Lochhead and with Sounds North),Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Greenwich, Lancaster, and throughout the land. In 2004-5, with the support of Arts Council England, North Tyneside Council and Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, he worked with Berlin artist RolfWojciechowski on a text sculpture which involved readings on the beaches along the Northumbrian coast from Marsden to Cullercoats and from Druridge Bay to Berwick. In 2007 he collaborated on the touring play The Making ofSaint Cuthbert for which he wrote and performed his poetry including shows in local churches. He appeared again at the Hexham Abbey Festival in 2008, at the Durham Book Festival and at the Cork International Jazz Festival Fringe. Hisbiography of Jack Common was published by the University of Sunderland Press in 2009.

He has toured to Russia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Poland, Iceland (including readings with Peter Mortimer during the Cod War), Denmark, France, Germany (including readings at the Universities of Hamburg, Kiel, Oldenburg, Trier and Tuebingen), Hungary,Italy, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, the United States, Cuba, Jamaica and Kenya. His poetry has been translated into Dutch, German, Russian, Italian, Icelandic and Czech.

He has long pioneered cultural exchanges with Durham's twinning partners, particularly Tübingen and Nordenham in Germany and Ivry-sur-Seine and Amiens in France, as well as with Newcastle's Dutch twin-city of Groningen. He has also won NorthernArts Awards to visit Berlin in 1990, in 2001 to pursue his studies of Dutch regional culture, in 2002 to visit New York, and in 2003 to visit Prague (with poet Paul Summers). His travels to Denmark, Germany, Holland and Sweden have also beensupported by the British Council. By way of cultural exchange, he has arranged for visits to North East England by poets from Scotland, Germany, The Netherlands, the Czech Republic, America and Russia.


The collection has been listed in the following categories, although many of the items overlap across more than one group. A few pieces of general biography and bibliography; publications by Armstrong, starting with individually publishedvolumes, Ostrich, and then work with various groups: the Tyneside Poets, Strong Words, Durham Voices & Northern Voices, East Durham Community Arts and Dreaming North. This is followed by a section of material fromfestivals, performances and exhibitions; periodicals and magazines containing work and reviews; anthologies, creative writing and other books and finally a small separate group of correspondence and items that could not easily be fitted into any ofthe above.

Access Information

Open for consultation.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Keith Armstrong, January 2007 (Accession Misc.2006/7:91).

Other Finding Aids


Printed material is also included on the library catalogue

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assistwhere possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Personal Names