Archive for May, 2010

Barking At Nothing cover image

I’m sure Jack wont mind if I interrupt normal service to announce the arrival of my own book of poems for children.  The book is being sold in aid of a children’s charity, The Donna Louise Children’s Hospice Trust in Staffordshire, UK.

With strong rhythms and rhymes the poems look at life from a child’s point of view and are sure to be enjoyed by young children, their parents and grandparents alike. They just ask to be read out loud. A final section on Things To Do, with ideas to encourage children to have a go themselves, will make the book a useful classroom tool for Primary School teachers.

The book will be published on 1st June 2010 and orders are being taken now. Please see my website for further information and to place an order: www.silverburnpublishing.co.uk  

Normal service will be resumed next time!


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I have no idea when Jack wrote this evocative poem and as far as I know it was never submitted to the National Poetry Foundation or published elsewhere.

Echoes of a Cotton Town

Terraced houses, old and crumbling,
Peeling paint on doors and frames.
Here and there a square of plywood
For a makeshift window-pane.
Some are painted, bright and cheery,
Bright red doorstep, snow-white cills.
Frilly curtains to the windows,
A spirit grows that won’t be killed.

People bonded close together,
In a little narrow street,
But more, much more than bricks and mortar
Are the echoing sounds that memories keep.
The ring of clogs on cobbled paving,
Head and shoulders wrapped in shawls.
Stepping from an open doorway,
Answering the weaver’s call.

Street meets street, the shouts of greeting
Mingled with wood and steel clad soles,
The distant mill buzzer blowing,
Another day’s work for a thousand souls.

Walls of houses echoing memories,
Street vendors shouting out their wares.
The cry of children playing hopscotch
Underneath the gas lamp’s glare.
Home made trucks for bringing coal in
From the nearest railway head,
Firebricks heated in the oven
Wrapped in cloth to warm the bed.
Rag rugs made of cast off clothing,
Tin bath hung behind the door,
Had such a full and happy childhood,
Never thought that we were poor.

Terraced house, old and crumbling,
An old man standing at the door,
Listening to distant echoes,
Memories of days of yore.

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Jack submitted this poem to the National Poetry Foundation in 1989. The critique that he recieved from them stated that it was not a poem! You may make up your own mind, but poem or not, it certainly creates a picture.

A View Of The Street

We called it our street, people got a
Special smile and hello because they
Lived here. I learned to ride a bike,
Play whip and top and relieve-o under
Its street lamps. People lived and
Died here, and each gave what they
Could towards a wreath, some gave
Flowers from their garden and all
Drew their curtains on the day of
The funeral, remembering someone
Shared and glad to have been a part of the sharing.

The houses were square, basic, built to last.
Solid brick walls with grey stone lintels
Over the plain oblong sash windows, looking
At the world with a blank uncompromising
Stare. The roofs of blue Welsh slate lay
Flat and hard on the roof laths, strong and
Regimented in their unity of purpose and with
A reputation for taking on and defeating all
Weathers. This was our street, how it seemed to me
As a small boy, teenager and young man,
Durable, dependable, both houses and people.

The houses are basic no more, most of them
Have been modernised inside and pseudo period
Styled on the outside, giving a plushier, softer
Individual outline to the street. The proud
Owner occupier looking at life through the
Gossamer, chintzy haze of a Georgian bow window
Has a more modern, rounder, broader, cosmopolitan
View of life than has hitherto been known in
The street. But I think it would be prudent
To request no flowers as and
When I go to my last resting place.

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