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5 Minutes With....Doncaster poet/musician Mick Jenkinson

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Doncastrian Mick Jenkinson is passionate about the arts scene in Doncaster...his personal involvement morphs seamlessly from poetry to music to art.

It’s an exciting time for him now. He has just launched ‘Songs of our Town’ with long-time Mexborough pal and poet Ian Parks, and a new rock album.

“Ian approached me at one of the early Ted Hughes Festivals in Mexborough I’ve always been involved with...I did research on the songs Ted Hughes himself used to stand up and sing in pubs, and we performed some....most people didn’t know them but they got a great reception.

“So I dug deeper for more material, and performed my own versions of them....a real mix of old English folk ballads, songs about politics and Irish rebel songs...others were mere nonsense songs.

“Anyway, Ian asked me if I would put his lyrics to music, and I was bowled over...Ian is a proper poet whereas I see myself as a ‘pretend’ one...I was actually a little daunted.

“We got on together, the chemistry was there, and with the help of Right Up Our Street, who get funding from the Arts Council, we did recording sessions and produced a cd.

“We hunted out stories about Doncaster, beyond the railways and the pits. An early one was about Sapper William Hackett, one of the most celebrated VCrecipients. “People liked the songs and responded to them. We’ve played at many 14-18 events, they became songs of Doncaster. One song was to accompany the Rebel Daughters exhibition at The Point, about suffragettes. “

Mick got involved with arts promotion movement Right Up Our Street when it began with exploration of unsung Balby.

“Balby was a little village and the seat of early Quakerism. There was a chestnut tree where George Fox would give sermons, and that tree is now a chair within a Quaker centre in America somewhere. St Catherine’s hospital was once a private house with interesting history, then there’s firms such as Pegler’s and Bridon...all identity that fed in to Songs of our Town.

“Thomas Rainsborough, the Leveller, who was a prominent figure in the Civil War, was killed outside the Black Bull in Market Place by royalists. We would like a plaque to go up there, or an engraved paving slab maybe.”

“Mexborough Business Centre is so much more than it’s name....it’s a community centre with a lovely concert hall and permanent art gallery. Ted Hughes did his very first performance there when it was Mexborough Grammar School.”

“Establishing the Ted Hughes Festival was the realisation of a dream....it has become nationally recognised.

“There’s something of an accepted psychology in Doncaster that we don’t shout about ourselves enough. There’s a real positive force for the arts. Right Up Our Street is a vehicle for talent that needs to be recognised.”

Songs of Our Town has its own Facebook page and is available as an MP3 download from Amazon, iTunes and other digital sales site.

CD’s are available, priced £8 from Doncaster Tourist Information Office, 1 Priory Place, Doncaster DN1 1BN or directly from Mick at m.jenkinson@blueyonder.co.uk

Mick’s enthusiasm is infectious. “We commissioned local artist Adam Berry, to do an album cover.

“A second CD is already on the cards....on a broader theme.

And the pair would like to roll out the idea to other towns.

Mick is known as a force behind the folk music scene in Doncaster....and he hosts poetry nights, appropriately named ‘Well Spoken’, on a fortnightly basis (second Thursday each month) at Doncaster Brewery and Tap. They’ve been going a couple of years and are popular.

“Poetry and beer is a great mix. It’s a kind of Open Mic....to encourage anyone and everyone who’s interested to have a go at poetry....and enjoy other people’s,” said Mick.

His creativity is limitless....on April 20 he launches his own first poetry book, A Tale to Tell, at Doncaster Brewery. And he has just released a second album with his reformed rock band, The Coil, 37 years after their first!

Although he’s worked in the family business of electrical engineering, Mick says he has been a writer and musician since his teenage years.

Marriage and children took centre stage for a while - but he is delighted that his eldest daughter is a professional poet, feeling some of his passion for the written word has “rubbed off”.

“I’m still as driven as I was about music. I’m realising many of my ambitions but want to take them further. And I want Doncaster to be seen as the cultural centre it is.....not the cultural wasteland it was tagged as a few years ago by the government”, added Mick.