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Durham University

Basil Bunting Poetry Centre

The Morden Tower

The Morden Tower, in Back Stowell Street on the West Walls of Newcastle upon Tyne, was built about 1290. From the 16th century it had housed the Company of Plumbers, Plasterers and Glaziers, but it was basically derelict when Connie Pickard took out the lease for it on 30th March 1964 and, together with Tom Pickard, initiated the series of poetry readings which has continued to this day.

Basil Bunting gave the first reading of Briggflatts in the Morden Tower, on 22nd December 1965. More than any of the host of celebrated poets to have read there, Bunting perhaps embodies the fusion of international modernism with local oral tradition for which Morden Tower readings are noted: the intimate, simple space of the Tower's upper room has been recognised by poets and audience alike as an ideal location for voiced poetry.

Readings and performances continue at the Morden Tower with the support of Northern Arts, under the co-ordination of Connie Pickard. High on the Walls: an Anthology celebrating twenty-five years of Poetry Readings at Morden Tower, (edited by Gordon Brown, ISBN 1 85224 148 9, £5.95) was published by the Tower in association with Bloodaxe Books in 1990.

For further information on the Morden Tower and its activities, see

Morden Tower contacts