Poet takes festival back to beginning

IRON Press was born 46 years ago in Avenue Road, Gateshead, where I was renting an attic room in the flat of Tyneside poet Tom Pickard and his wife, Connie.

Saturday, 4th May 2019, 3:58 pm
The Iron Or Festival brochure.

The couple ran the famous Morden Tower Poetry Centre in Newcastle, which attracted leading bards from throughout the world.

Tom also helped bring to public attention the great Northumbrian poet Basil Bunting, since revered on both sides of the Atlantic.

That first edition of IRON magazine had a vivid article by the legendary US beat poet Allen Ginsberg on reading at the tower, also a long declamatory poem by Pickard himself, titled America.

It’s fitting that we should welcome Tom back to our IRON OR Festival.

He’s remained a leading, if controversial, figure in poetry, arrested for obscenity at the Newcastle Festival and the only writer to be barred from the North Sea.

He now lives in Cumbria where he continues to write provocative, uncompromising verse.

Also on the bill is Blyth singer/songwriter and artist, the shaggy haired Pete Shaw.

Pete is a well-known face on the north east music scene and organiser of some of the region’s most successful music events at the unique Mr Tighes bar in Bebside, Blyth, each Sunday, where he hosts an array of talented artists, all free.

The festival event, entitled A Tyneside Literary Son, takes place on Sunday, June 23, at 2pm, at the RNLI Cullercoats, where you get a stunning seascape too.

Tickets cost £8 for the event.

The fourth Iron Press Festival runs from Thursday, June 20 to Sunday, June 23 at venues around the harbour of Cullercoats, featuring writers associated with the press or the north east region, often both.

There is poetry, prose and music.

Festival tickets are now on direct sale daily, from 1pm to 3pm, from Cullercoats Coffee, online at ticketsource.co.uk/ironpress or by telephone on 0333 666 3366.

There will be more about the Iron Or Festival next week.