© 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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Recordings

These poems come from a special recording for the Poetry Archive:

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Extras

Select bibliography

  • Zoom!, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Bloodaxe Books, 1989
  • Xanadu, Bloodaxe Books, 1992
  • Kid, London, Faber & Faber, 1992
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  • Book of Matches, Faber & Faber, 1993
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  • Penguin Modern Poets 5 (contributor with Sean O'Brien and Tony Harrison), London, Penguin, 1995
  • The Dead Sea Poems, Faber & Faber, 1995
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  • Moon Country (with Glyn Maxwell), Faber & Faber, 1996
  • Wild Blue Yonder, Penguin/Faber Audiobooks, 1996
  • Cloudcuckooland, Faber & Faber, 1997
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  • The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 (editor with Robert Crawford), London, Viking, 1998
  • All Points North, Penguin, 1998
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  • The Poetry Quartets 11, Audio Cassette, The British Council/Bloodaxe Books, 1998
  • Killing Time, Faber & Faber, 1999
  • New Chatto Poets, Vintage 1999
  • Selected Poems, Faber & Faber, 2001
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  • Short and Sweet, Faber & Faber, 2002
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  • Travelling Songs, Faber & Faber, 2004
  • The Universal Home Doctor, Faber & Faber, 2004
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  • Ted Hughes: poems selected by Simon Armitage, Faber & Faber, 2004
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  • Simon Armitage Reading from his poems, CD, The Poetry Archive, 2005
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  • Machinery of Grace, The Poetry Society 2005
  • Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid, Faber & Faber 2006
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  • Homer's Odyssey, Faber & Faber 2006
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  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, W W Norton, 2007
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  • The Twilight Readings, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2008
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  • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight CD - read by Simon Armitage. Faber & Faber, 2008
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  • The Not Dead, Pomona Press 2008
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  • Out of the Blue, Enitharmon Press 2008
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  • Out of the Blue, Enitharmon 2008
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  • Gig, Penguin Books 2009
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  • Poetry of Birds, Penguin Books 2009
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  • Seeing Stars, Faber and Faber 2010
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  • Walking Home, Faber and Faber 2012
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  • The Death of King Arthur Faber and Faber 2012
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  • Poetry Quartets 1, Bloodaxe Books 1998
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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.

Prizes

1988 Eric Gregory Award, Zoom!
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1989 Poetry Book Society Choice, Zoom!
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1989 Whitbread Poetry Award (shortlist), Zoom!
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1992 Forward Poetry Prize (Most Promising Young Poet), Kid
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1993 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, Xanadu and Kid
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1994 Lannan Literary Award (Poetry)
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1995 Whitbread Poetry Award (shortlist), Dead Sea Poems
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1995 Forward Poetry Prize (shortlist), Dead Sea Poems
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1995 T. S. Eliot Prize (shortlist), Dead Sea Poems
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2004 T. S. Eliot Prize (shortlist), The Universal Home Doctor
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