Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Castalians & The New Poetry Scene - Dovecot Arts Centre

Pdf documents and audio to come to this

The Castalians was a Poetry and music / spoken word event held at the Dovecot Arts Centre in Stockton on Tees between 1982 and 1985 and one of the most important developments on the Cleveland (UK) writing scene at the time.

The idea came out of discussions between Ann Wainwright, Trev Teasdel and Colin Walker. Trev had wanted to take the idea of the multi Media Society out of the Poly into the wider community and had made enquires of the Dovecot and Ann and Colin had wanted a showcase for local poets contributing to Poetic Licence. They put the ideas together and Ann organised a meeting at her flat in Hartington Rd Stockton in April 1982.

Trev brought poets and musicians along from the Multi Media Society and Ann and Colin brought along Stephanie Wilson - then Director of The Dovecot Arts Centre with a view to having use of the bar once a month and meanwhile the poets and musicians got together to work on joint performances of music and poetry or songs.
local poets and musicians. Ann and Colin agreed to talk to

Ann Wainwright organising the Castalians
at the Dovecot arts centre, Stockton 1982 - photo by Brian Stubley
The name 'Castalians' was Colin Walker's idea and came from Herman Hesse's Novel The Glass Bead Game. Colin had originally wanted to include esoteric speakers in the programme. 

The monthly sessions were lively,creative and brought together some of the people who would become important to the Cleveland Writing movement in the future including John Miles Longden, Peter Stockill and Johnny Nichol. John Mile Longden and Peter Stockill had been involved in early groups and humourist Johnny Nichol took on compère duties. Trev brought along poets and musicians from the Poly's Multii-Media Society and new poets came along including  Mel McEvoy, who would later be an co-founder / editor of Outlet and Stiletto Pigeonetto - a Guisborough poet in the style of  John Cooper Clarke.

Ann arranged for periodic guests paid for by the Poetry Society's National Poetry Secretariat - including a
group of poets from the University of Crewe / Alsager's BA in Creative Writing.

In between meetings poets and musicians would gather at Ann's flat to arrange poetry and music or other performances (often around a theme given by Ann) for the next event.

The Castalians continued to function until mid 1984 when numbers seemed to drop off.


Dovecot Arts Centre
In 1984 Trev Teasdel - now graduate and with more time on his hands - agreed to help re-develop and re- The Castalians, retitling it The New Poetry Scene. They re-organised it along the lines of a folk club with a paid guest one month and a local poets night the next. The first session kicked off with a performance by Bradford poet Little Brother who had proved popular at Teesside Poly gigs. Trev took over compère duties and he and poet John Quinn did a broadcast on Radio Tees to re-launch it, during which John Quinn read poems on air to music the DJ played in the background. New members came along, again some of whom became important to later developments - Pauline  Plummer who became a co-founder of Outlet Magazine and later still a well published poet and tutor on the MA Creative Writing course at the university of Northumbria. Terry Lawson, a lifeboat man, shop keeper, poet and Jazz musician  from Staithes who came along with the Guisborough Poetry group and became a co-founder of Outlet and Write Around.

One interesting link up was between the Cleveland Peace Artists (associated with Kevin Daws Cleveland Peace News)  who came along and invited poets from the New Poetry Scene to perform at CND and Peace gatherings in the area.Trev Teasdel, John Quinn and Stiletto Pigeonetto took part in this, performing at Tockett's Mill in Guisborough and many other venues.

Around this time Community Arts Middlesbrough had initiated the Teesside Writers Workshop and many of the performers got involved with that group - important in that it led to the formation of a group around Trev Teasdel that initiated Outlet Magazine and Write Around. The New Poetry Scene ran between 1984 and 1985 until Teesside Writers Workshop became the new Vanguard.

With guest - Darlington Punk Poet / Playwright Tony Stowers (Mad Tony)

The inside of the 1st Castalian programme May 5th 1982

More to come.

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