26 May 1963 |
Marsden, West Yorkshire, England, UK
Simon Armitage CBE (born 26 May 1963) is a British poet, playwright and novelist.
Life and career
Simon Armitage was born in Marsden, West Yorkshire. Armitage first studied at Colne Valley High School, Linthwaite, Huddersfield and went on to study geography at Portsmouth Polytechnic. He was a post-graduate student at the University of Manchester where his MA thesis concerned the effects of television violence on young offenders. Until 1994 he worked as Probation Officer in Greater Manchester. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters in 1996 from the University of Portsmouth. He then lectured on creative writing at the University of Leeds, the University of Iowa and Manchester Metropolitan University. He has made literary, history and travel programmes for BBC Radios 3 and 4; and since 1996 he has written and presented a number of TV documentaries. In February 2011 he became Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield.
Armitage's poetry collections include Book of Matches (1993) and The Dead Sea Poems (1995). He has written two novels, Little Green Man (2001) and The White Stuff (2004), as well as All Points North (1998), a collection of essays on Northern England. He produced a dramatised version of Homer's Odyssey and a collection of poetry entitled Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus The Corduroy Kid (which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize), both of which were published in July 2006. Many of Armitage's poems appear in the AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) GCSE syllabus for English Literature in the United Kingdom. These include "Homecoming", "November", "Kid", "Hitcher", and a selection of poems from Book of Matches, most notably of these "Mother any distance...". His writing 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.
Armitage also writes for radio, television, film and stage. He is the author of four stage plays, including Mister Heracles, a version of Euripides' The Madness of Heracles. He is currently writing a fifth, The Last Days of Troy, to be premiered at Shakespeare's Globe in June 2014. He was commissioned in 1996 by the National Theatre in London to write Eclipse for the National Connections series, a play inspired by the real-life disappearance of a girl in Hebden Bridge, and set at the time of the 1999 solar eclipse in Cornwall. Most recently he 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) – 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 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 CloudCuckooLand 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.
Awards and honours
- 1988 Eric Gregory Award
- 1989 Zoom! made a Poetry Book Society Choice
- 1992 A Forward Poetry Prize for Kid
- 1993 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year
- 1994 Lannan Award
- 1998 Yorkshire Post Book of the Year for All Points North
- 2003 BAFTA winner
- 2003 Ivor Novello Award for song-writing
- 2004 Fellow of Royal Society for Literature
- 2005 Spoken Word Award (Gold) for The Odyssey
- 2006 Royal Television Society Documentary Award Winner for Out of the Blue
- 2008 The Not Dead (C4, Century Films) Mental Health in the Media Documentary Film Winner
- 2010 Seeing Stars made a Poetry Book Society Choice
- 2010 Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry
- 2010 Awarded the CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, for services to poetry
- 2012 The Death of King Arthur made Poetry Book Society Choice
- 2012 Hay Medal for Poetry
- 2012 T S Eliot Prize, shortlist, The Death of King Arthur 
- Zoom! (Bloodaxe, 1989) ISBN 978-1-85224-078-3
- Xanadu (1992)
- Kid (1992)
- Book of Matches (1993)
- The Dead Sea Poems (1995)
- CloudCuckooLand (1997)
- Killing Time. (1999)
- Selected Poems (2001)
- The Universal Home Doctor (2002)
- Travelling Songs (2002)
- The Shout: Selected Poems (2005)
- Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus The Corduroy Kid (2006)
- The Not Dead (2008)
- Out of the Blue (2008)
- Seeing Stars (2010)
- Homer's Odyssey (2006)
- Sir Gawain and The Green Knight (2007)
- The Death of King Arthur (2011)
Pamphlets and limited editions
- Human Geography (Smith/Doorstop Books, 1986)
- Distance Between Stars (Wide Skirt, 1987)
- The Walking Horses (Slow Dancer, 1988)
- Around Robinson (Slow Dancer, 1991)
- The Anaesthetist (Alton; Clarion, Illustrated by Velerii Mishin, 1994)
- Five Eleven Ninety Nine (Clarion Publishing, Illustrated by Toni Goffe, 1995)
- Machinery of Grace: A Tribute to Michael Donaghy (Poetry Society, 2005), Contributor
- The North Star (University of Aberdeen, 2006)-Contributor
- The Motorway Service Station as a Destination in its Own Right (Smith/Doorstop Books, 2010)
- In Memory of Water - The Stanza Stones poems. (Wood engravings by Hilary Paynter. Published by Andrew J Moorhouse, 2013)
- Little Green Man (2001)
- The White Stuff (2004)
- Penguin Modern Poets BK.5 (with Sean O'Brien and Tony Harrison, 1995)
- The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 (with Robert Crawford, 1998)
- Short and Sweet: 101 Very Short Poems (1999)
- Ted Hughes Poems: Selected by Simon Armitage (2000)
- The Poetry of Birds (with Tim Dee, 2009)
- Moon Country (with Glyn Maxwell,1996)
- Eclipse (1997)
- All Points North (1998)
- Mister Heracles After Euripides (2000)
- King Arthur in the East Riding (Pocket Penguins,2005)
- Jerusalem (2005)
- The Twilight Readings (2008)
- Gig: The Life and Times of a Rock-star Fantasist (2008)
- Walking Home: Travels with a Troubadour on the Pennine Way (2012)
Selected television and radio works
- Second Draft from Saga Land – six programmes for BBC Radio 3 on W. H. Auden and Louis MacNeice.
- Eyes of a Demigod – on Victor Grayson commissioned by BBC Radio 3.
- The Amherst Myth – on Emily Dickinson, for BBC Radio 4.
- Points of Reference – on the history of navigation and orientation, for BBC Radio 4.
- From Salford to Jericho – A verse drama for BBC Radio 4.
- To Bahia and Beyond – Five travelogue features in verse with Glyn Maxwell from Brazil and the Amazon for BBC Radio 3.
- The Bayeux Tapestry – A six part dramatisation, with Geoff Young, for BBC Radio 3.
- Saturday Night (1996) - Century Films/BBC TV
- A Tree Full of Monkeys (2002) – commissioned by BBC Radio 3, with Zoviet France.
- The Odyssey (2004) – A three-part dramatisation for BBC Radio 4.
- Writing the City (2005) – commissioned by BBC Radio 3.
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2010) - BBC documentary
- Gods and Monsters - Homer's Odyssey (2010) - BBC documentary
- The Making of King Arthur (2010) - BBC documentary
- The Pendle Witch Child (2011) - BBC documentary
- Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster (2011), consisting of poems telling the story of Sophie Lancaster's life, together with the personal recollections of her mother.
- Pennine Way activities on Armitage's website
- Ogden, Rachael (June 2001). "Preview: Simon Armitage". The North Guide (UK: North Guide): 27. ISSN 1470-4153.
- "All Points North", Simon Armitage
- "BBC Four - Sir Gawain and the Green Knight". BBC Online. 17 August 2010. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- "The Last Days of Troy by Simon Armitage starring Lily Cole / Shakespeare's Globe". Shakespearesglobe.com. Retrieved 2014-03-07.
- "Shell Connections at the National". Peter Lathan. 2004. Retrieved 3 April 2008.
- The London Gazette: . 12 June 2010.
- Alison Flood (23 October 2012). "TS Eliot prize for poetry announces 'fresh, bold' shortlist". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- Mad, Wild, Hurling Tales of Odysseus’ Journey
- "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (BBC Documentary)". YouTube. Retrieved 6 February 2013.
- Ian Gregson, Simon Armitage, Salt Modern Poets Series: Salt, Cambridge, 2011.
- Jeremy Noel-Tod, "Profile: Simon Armitage". Areté 4, Winter 2000, pp. 31–49.
- "Simon Armitage". The Guardian. 22 July 2008. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
- "Simon Armitage: 'I'm quite boyish in my outlook'". The Independent. 18 December 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
- Times article April 24, 2010 Simon Armitage says: ‘They’re poems because I say they are’ Accessed 2010-04-24
- The deadly serious poet's society: Simon Armitage, 46, on rejection, perfect steak - and why he never writes poetry drunk. Sunday Times Magazine, 23 May 2010.
- Simon Armitage at British Council: Literature
- Poetry Archive Biography, interviews, poems and audio files. Accessed 2010-02-22
- Guardian interview (07/2001) Accessed 2010-02-22
- Simon Armitage Official Site Accessed 2010-02-22
- Independent Interview Sunday, 21 September 1997 Accessed 2010-02-22
- BBC Interview (03/2004) Accessed 2010-02-22
- Griffin Poetry Prize 2006 keynote speech, including audio clip Accessed 2010-02-22
- Sonnets.org interview (01/2002) Accessed 2010-02-22