Allen Ginsberg and Tom Pickard

"After forty five years of the "life of poetry" in the Morden Tower there is a certain amount of material, including photographs, publications and some live recordings, not as much as we would like because the first ten years the Morden Tower ran on gas, after all we were lucky to have a medieval tower. What mattered though was that the poetry was Live; after all we were the "electric generation". I think we made no small contribution to the development of the North East's vibrant poetry scene. We hope to therefore develop this section as a useful resource for those interested in Morden Tower's contribution to this heritage."
Connie Pickard

"It is impossible to overstate the impact the Morden Tower had on me as a diligent, booksniff sixth-former. The place the Pickards made offered an alternative to official culture, to the mystique and snobbery associated with
the arts." "Living Memories" Gorden Burn: Guardian.

Allen Ginsberg, Kaddish and Morden Tower.

Allen referrs to the reading in the Morden Tower on the record sleeve of Kaddish HOW KADDISH HAPPENED.

"I have read this huge poem aloud only three times. The first reading of the complete text was for The Catholic Worker after they opened a new salvation centre near the bowery in 1960. I didn't read the whole poem aloud ( except once to Kerouac in my kitchen) in public again till the occasion of the recording at Brandeis University Nov 24th 1964.

I've done it only once since then a year later in Morden Tower, Newcastle. England for a small group of longhaired kids in the presence of the greatest living British poet Basil Bunting. I was afraid that reading it over and over, except where there was a spiritual reason, would put the scene into the realm of performance, an act, rather than a spontaeneous poetic Event, happening, in time."

Allen's account of Kaddish at Morden Tower

1971 Tower Poster


Since the very first readings Connie, Tom Pickard and their friends designed a range of posters promoting Morden Tower readings. Then as now Morden Tower survived on a shoe string. Before the onset of digital media they screen printed the posters and distributed them throughout Newcastle.

Your memories

Part of Morden Tower's success is its inclusiveness and welcoming atmosphere. If you have memories or photographs of reading or visitng the Morden Tower you would like to share. Why not help build the Morden Tower archive and send them in. You can email Morden Tower directly from our contact page.


I was 15, still at school, and burning with desire to write, seriously and well. Amazingly, Rutherford Grammar School had the City Lights edition of Ginsberg's "Howl" in its library. You might imagine the effect that had on a lad raised on Wordsworth. Only a week later that summer Ginsburg came to England and visited the Tower. It was a packed brilliant evening. After his visit, visitors to the Tower included, in quick succession, Corso, Ferlinghett, Dorn, Creely, Trocchi, Harwood, Raworth, many of the younger British poets, writers from all over the world and of course, Bunting. Week after week, the living word! What better introduction to writing could a young poet have had?"
Barry MacSweeney