Land of Three Rivers Features

Land of Three Rivers Features


Neil Astley's anthology Land of Three Rivers: The Poetry of North-East England was published by Bloodaxe on Friday 10 November 2017.  It was launched at Magnetic North East concert at Sage Gateshead that night.  This wonderful concert, reviewed on Write Out Loud here, included performances of poems and songs from the anthology by Jimmy Nail, Martin Longstaff of The Lake Poets and others including piper Kathryn Tickell, who set one poem to music. 

The anthology maps the region in poetry and song, with its title taken from Vin Garbutt's folk ballad in praise of the land of 'the Tyne, Wear and Tees', but extends its coverage to the Tweed to the north and the Pennines to the west. Poems are grouped together by place, starting at Hadrian’s Wall, and ending in Cleveland, with sections on the border region, Northumberland, Newcastle, Durham, Teesdale and Teesside along the way.  As well as poetry, it also includes some classic North-East songs both traditional and modern, from the oral tradition of balladeers such as ‘The Keel Row’ and ‘Bobby Shafto’, to lyrics from songs by Jimmy Nail, Mark Knopfler and Sting.  


Neil Astley's anthology Land of Three Rivers: The Poetry of North-East England was discussed on Locklisted, an off-shoot of the Backlisted Podcast, on 17 January 2020.

John Mitchinson recommended both Land of Three Rivers and Briggflatts by Basil Bunting (pictured top left). John read Basil Bunting's poem ‘What the Chairman Told Tom’, which is included in Land of Three Rivers.

‘It’s a brilliant, brilliant anthology…it’s full of joy.’ – John Mitchinson, Locklisted podcast, on Land of Three Rivers

From 8.15:



The Sunday Times
, Poetry Books of the Year, Sunday 26 November 2017

‘My anthology of the year was Neil Astley’s Land of Three Rivers, which mingled some of the best English poets of the 20th century (such as WH Auden and Basil Bunting) with lesser-known talents such as Lilian Bowes Lyon, cousin to the Queen Mother.  Astley also includes popular song, from ballads to Dire Straits, in a treasury that absorbs and enriches.’ – Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times (Poetry Books of the Year 2017)

Click here to read (in full by subscription)



The Northern Echo, Saturday 2 December 2017

The Northern Echo ran a feature review of Neil Astley's Land of Three Rivers anthology.  It was illustrated online with a gallery of 5 photographs from around the region along with the book cover and a photo of W H Auden, whose work is included in the book.  Three poems from the anthology were included in the online edition and two in print. The article ran under the headline ‘A landmark anthology will define North-East poetry for years to come’.  The print edition ran over two pages, and picked out the quote below in bold.

‘… an outstanding anthology, the central wonder of which is that nothing like it has appeared before. But it arrives as a tour de force, for which the word ‘landmark’ might well have been coined.’ – Harry Mead, The Northern Echo  

Click here to read.

Newcastle Journal, Saturday 25 November 2017

A two-page feature based on an interview with Neil Astley about his new anthology Land of Three Rivers ran in The Journal on 25 November ahead of Neil’s event at Books on the Tyne Festival the following day.  It was illustrated in the print edition with a half-page specially taken photo of Neil Astley in Newcastle holding the anthology and a photo of Jimmy Nail and Sting beside the Tyne.  More photos available online.  Dave Whetstone tweeted that the anthology is a ‘tour de force’.

‘Now here’s a great Christmas present for anyone who loves the North East and likes to read about it – a handsome book called Land of Three Rivers: The Poetry of North-East England. It’s an anthology of words to be spoken or sung.’ – David Whetstone, The Journal

Click here to read.

Hexham Courant, Friday 10 November 2017

A full-page interview with Neil Astley about his new anthology, Land of Three Rivers, ran in the Hexham Courant on publication day, 10 November.  Neil was pictured with copies of the anthology.  

‘This eclectic mix of old and new, poets and lyricists is what makes 'Land of Three Rivers' such a vibrant record of the rhythm of our region.’ – Pauline Holt, Hexham Courant

Click here to read.


[11 December 2017]

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