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.