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Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Monday, 16 February 2009

The North-South divide - in verse

Angel of the North and The Horse
The new symbols of North and South, the Angel and the yet-to-be-built Horse
England's North-South divide has been the object of good-natured humour and debate for decades. And now it's being fought on a new battlefield - poetry.

Football, weather, food and life in general. Nearly all subjects have been covered in the endless banter between northerners and southerners.

But on Monday in Kings Cross, London - the gateway to the North, for rail travellers - the regional differences are being explored in verse.

Poets from either side of the divide - and some who have crossed it - are holding a recital organised by Poet in the City, in which they will be expressing their love or loathing for one side or another.

Kit Wright, who lives in the East End, and Liverpudlian Paul Farley will be among them. Here is one example from each of them. If you'd like to write your own poem on the North or South then use the form at the bottom of the page.



They ask why I still bother coming back.

London must be great this time of year.

I'm not listening. My eyes have found

the draining-board, its dull mineral shine,

the spice rack, still exactly how I left it,

knives, a Vermeer vinyl table-mat.

How many hours did I spend watching

the woman pouring milk into a bowl

that never fills? I never tired of it.

Vision persists, doesn't admit the breaks

the artist must have taken, leg-stretching

alongside a canal twitching with sky

not unlike the leaden one outside;

or just leant on the door jamb, looking out

onto a courtyard, smoking a pipe

before going in, to sleep on his excitement.



What vasty thighs outspread to give thee birth,

DIDCOT, thou marvel of the plain?

Colossal funnels of the steamship EARTH,

Thy consummate immensity

Enshrines the rare propensity

Of fumes to form eternal acid rain!

While, in their pious hosts, Romano-Celtic ghosts

Are knelt to worship thy

All-belching amphorae,

And shadows of thy sacrificial breathing fill the sky!

DIDCOT, thou bugger!

Thou teaser of the mind

And recollection-tugger! Thee I find

To replicate the days when I was small

What time my mother, sweet and kind,

The fragrant Friar's Balsam did infuse.

She therewithal

A towel placed upon my head

And loving care did use

That pulmonary perils might not wake me with the dead.

DIDCOT! To one more

Soft eidolon thou steam'st ope mem'ry's door ...

For in thy hanging shrouds I view return

Far other blue-grey clouds;

My father's pipe-smoke I in thee discern,

Companion true,

That followed him all days

And ways he ventured through this singing maze,

To take that turn

All entrants in their bafflement and grace may not eschew.

What links of tenderness are forged by thee,

DIDCOT, thou ever-burning core!

Insensate lover of the loves that flee!

Thou glade of past felicity,

Thy sap of electricity

Complicit in our veins for evermore!

Struggling anent the storm, thy children ghost the form

Of all our quickenings may ever be ...

DIDCOT, thy billows pour,

Connatural, contiguous, familial as the sea!

The North and South poetry event is at 1900 GMT on Monday, 16 February, at Kings Place, Kings Cross, north London

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