The twentieth century German philosopher Martin Heidegger, Adam Sharr reminds us, once wrote an essay called ‘What are Poets for?’. He wasn’t the kind of philosopher to give you a straight answer to a straight question. He preferred to use old words in strange ways to evoke and provoke, to make you think, Sharr suggests, rather than to solve things. If he did answer his own question about what poets are for, then it was to argue that poets can just say things intensely and bluntly: to cut to the chase in a way that the rest of us can’t. The city of Newcastle also does things pretty intensely and bluntly. Previous generations built with bravado, from the structural gymnastics in stone of the cathedral’s fifteenth century lantern spire to the elegant Georgian streets of Grainger Town, the learned grace of the Lit and Phil, the curving Victorian train sheds of Central Station, and the concrete architecture and infrastructure of T. Dan Smith’s 1960s. Few generations of city elders, however, have been precious about their inheritance from their forebears.