“It’s never going to be very mainstream. One reason is that poetry requires concentration, both on the part of the writer and the reader. But it’s kind of unkillable, poetry. It’s our most ancient artform and I think it’s more relevant today than ever, because it’s one person saying what they really believe.”
Armitage work is characterised by a dry Yorkshire wit combined with “an accessible, realist style and critical seriousness.” His translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2007), was adopted for the ninth edition of The Norton Anthology of English Literature and he was the narrator of a 2010 BBC documentary about the poem and its use of landscape.
Most recently Armitage wrote the libretto for an opera scored by Scottish composer Stuart MacRae, The Assassin Tree, based on a Greek myth recounted in The Golden Bough. The opera premiered at the 2006 Edinburgh International Festival, Scotland, before moving to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. Saturday Night (Century Films, BBC2, 1996): he wrote and narrated a fifty-minute poetic commentary to a documentary about night-life in Leeds, directed by Brian Hill. In 2010, Armitage walked the 264-mile Pennine Way, walking south from Scotland to Derbyshire. Along the route he stopped to give poetry readings, often in exchange for donations of money, food or accommodation, despite the rejection of the free life seen in his 1993 poem Hitcher, and has written a book about his journey, called Walking Home.
He has received numerous awards for his poetry, including The Sunday Times Author of the Year, a Forward Prize, a Lannan Award, and an Ivor Novello Award for his song lyrics in the Channel 4 film Feltham Sings. Kid and Cloud Cuckoo Land were short-listed for the Whitbread poetry prize. The Dead Sea Poems was short-listed for the Whitbread, the Forward Poetry Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize. The Universal Home Doctor was also short-listed for the T.S. Eliot. In 2000, he was the UK’s official Millennium Poet and went on to judge the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize, the 2006 Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the 2010 Manchester Poetry Prize.
In 2004, Armitage was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2010 Birthday Honours. He is a vice president of the Poetry Society and a patron of the Arvon Foundation.
In 2007 Armitage released an album of songs co-written with the musician Craig Smith, under the band name The Scaremongers.
For the Stanza Stones Trail, which runs through 47 miles (76 km) of the Pennine region, Armitage composed six new poems. With the help of local expert Tom Lonsdale and letter-carver Pip Hall, the poems were carved into stones at secluded sites. A book, containing the poems and the accounts of Lonsdale and Hall, was produced as a record of that journey and was published by Enitharmon Press.
In 2016 the arts program 14-18 NOW commissioned a series of poems by Simon Armitage as part of a five-year program of new artwork created specifically to mark the centenary of the First World War. The poems are a response to six aerial or panoramic photographs of battlefields from the archive of the Imperial War Museum in London. The poetry collection “Still” premiered at the Norfolk & Norwich Festival and has been published in partnership with Enitharmon Press.
“Prose fills a space, like a liquid poured in from the top, but poetry occupies it, arrays itself in formation, sets up camp and refuses to budge.”
Recent in digital publications:
* Four poems , I Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review
From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems)
A homebound writer, poet, and former columnist and associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, I Am Not a Silent Poet, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, a curated info hub for poets and writers and am the founding/managing editor of The BeZine.
“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton