Friday, 05 May 2017 10:27

For Joe Skipsey: The Pitman Poet of Percy Main

Written by
in Poetry
454
For Joe Skipsey: The Pitman Poet of Percy Main

For Joe Skipsey: The Pitman Poet of Percy Main (1832-1903)

by Keith Armstrong

'He'll tell his tale o'er a pint of ale,
And crack his joke, and bad
Must be the heart who loveth not
To hear the Collier Lad.' - Joe Skipsey

To be a pitman poet
you drag words
out of the seam of a dictionary,
write against the grain
all the time
feeling the pain
of a small education,
scribbling in the dark
for a bright spark
germ of a poem.
Hewing
for rhymes,
ducking
in case the roof
of the verse
caved in on you,
Joe
it was bloody hard
to learn,
to craft a line
from the black pit
when the whole world
weighed down on you.
A man was forced
to sing,
to render a ballad
like a lamp in the tunnel,
scraping an education
from coal,
crawling along bookshelves
to find daylight,
Shakespeare,
Shelley
and melody
in the stacks
of an underground library.

Read 454 times Last modified on Sunday, 07 May 2017 19:30
Keith Armstrong

Keith Armstrong has worked as a community worker, librarian, publisher and poet, and has performed his poetry throughout the world.