Image by Jason Bell

Simon Armitage

b. 1963


We were testing the range of the human voice - 'The Shout', Simon Armitage

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About Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage (b. 1963) burst onto the poetry scene with Zoom! in 1989 and quickly established himself as the most high-profile poet in the group dubbed 'The New Generation'. Born and brought up in Huddersfield, England, Armitage worked as a probation officer before becoming a full-time writer, a job that provided a particularly rich source of anecdote for his poetry. His northern roots and ear for street-wise language gave his work a young, urban appeal and, combined with a comedian's sense of timing, have made Armitage a geunuinely popular poet whose work features regularly on the National Curriculum. He was the obvious choice for Poet-in-Residence for the New Millennium Experience Company at the Dome, resulting in his acclaimed thousand-line poem, 'Killing Time'. From an Eric Gregory Award in 1988 to his nomination for the T S Eliot Prize in 2002, Armitage has been a frequent presence on shortlists for all the major poetry prizes. He is also a successful writer of drama and prose, with two novels and a best-selling memoir, All Points North, to his name. He was made a C.B.E. in the Queen's Birthday honours 2010.

With his acute eye for modern life, Armitage is an updated version of Wordsworth's "man talking to men" for the post-punk generation. But his seemingly off-the-cuff style masks a sophisticated craftsmen indebted to Auden, Muldoon and MacNeice as much as popular culture. His most celebrated poems often take the form of monologue allowing him to don a variety of guises to probe serious issues of identity, class and masculinity. So whilst the neat reversal of 'The Twang' might make us laugh, its final image satirises "harmless" patriotism: "a collection box/for the National Trust. I mean the National Front." Likewise the self-deprecating tone of 'You're Beautiful' is subverted during the course of the poem, until the reader questions the gender assumptions it asserts so insistently. Elsewhere story is transfigured into vision, with the equivocal miracles of poems like 'Horses, M62' or 'The Tyre'.

Armitage's northern accent gives his poetry an extra edge, his deadpan delivery as sharp as an easterly over the Pennines. The listener feels the rhythms have grown naturally out of the poet's speaking voice, no matter who is doing the talking.

His recording was made for The Poetry Archive on 12 July 2005 at the Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Interviews and other readings

Simon Armitage interview

Did you know there is more than one Simon Armitage? In this interview...

Additional material and useful links

BBC

Visit Simon Armitage's page on the BBC site.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/poetryseason/poets/simon_armitage.shtml

The Cyclops

On the Poetry Channel, Simon Armitage reads the Cyclops episode from his re-working of The Odyssey.

http://www.thepoetrychannel.org.uk/

Simon Armitage recordings, Woodberry Poetry Room

Simon Armitage recordings, Woodberry Poetry Room, Harvard.

http://hcl.harvard.edu/poetryroom/listeningbooth/index.cfm#

Selected bibliography

Walking Home, Faber and Faber 2012

The Death of King Arthur Faber and Faber 2012

Out of the Blue, Enitharmon 2008

Seeing Stars, Faber and Faber 2010

Gig, Penguin Books 2009

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New Chatto Poets, Vintage 1999

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Machinery of Grace, The Poetry Society 2005

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Out of the Blue, Enitharmon Press 2008

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Homer's Odyssey, Faber & Faber 2006

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Prizes

1988 Eric Gregory Award, Zoom!

Prize website

1989 Poetry Book Society Choice, Zoom!

Prize website

1989 Whitbread Poetry Award (shortlist), Zoom!

Prize website

1992 Forward Poetry Prize (Most Promising Young Poet), Kid

Prize website

1993 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, Xanadu and Kid

Prize website

1994 Lannan Literary Award (Poetry)

Prize website

1995 Whitbread Poetry Award (shortlist), Dead Sea Poems

Prize website

1995 Forward Poetry Prize (shortlist), Dead Sea Poems

Prize website

1995 T. S. Eliot Prize (shortlist), Dead Sea Poems

Prize website

2004 T. S. Eliot Prize (shortlist), The Universal Home Doctor

Prize website

Links

Recordings

Simon Armitage Reading from his poems

1The Shout

2All For One

3Chainsaw versus the Pampas Grass

4The Twang

5The Laughing Stock

6Salvador

7Birthday

8The Summerhouse

9Working from Home

10Two Clocks

11The Back Man

12The Keep

13KX

14Horses, M62

15You're Beautiful

16A Glory

17The Tyre

18Incredible

A tour of the Archive with Dr Rowan Williams

Poetry happens at a sort of junction in the mind when new combinations start up, words and pictures start connecting...

Featured Guided Tours


Books & cds by Simon Armitage