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Simon Armitage
Born 26 May 1963 (1963-05-26) (age 46)
Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England
Occupation Poet / Playwright / Novelist
Nationality United Kingdom British

Simon Armitage (born 26 May 1963, Huddersfield) is a British poet, playwright, and novelist. Before finding success with his poetry he worked as a probation officer and a supermarket shelf stacker.[1] 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. In 2000, he was made the UK's official Millennium Poet. During this time he wrote the poem "Killing Time", centred on news events of the previous year, running to over a thousand lines.[1] He was one of the judges for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize and in 2006 was one of the judges for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. His writing is characterised by a dry, native Yorkshire wit combined with "an accessible, realist style and critical seriousness." [1]


Academic history

Armitage first studied at Colne Valley High School, Linthwaite, Huddersfield, UK. He then went on to study geography at Portsmouth Polytechnic, UK, before lecturing on creative writing at both the University of Leeds, UK and at the University of Iowa, USA, writers' workshop. He is currently a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom.

Notable works


Published works

Armitage has published several volumes of poetry, including 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 the north of 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 TS Eliot Prize), both of which were published in July 2006.

Performance works

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 was commissioned in 2004 by the National Theatre in London to write Eclipse for the Connections series, a play based on the disappearance of a girl in Hebden Bridge at the time of the 1999 solar eclipse in Cornwall.[2] 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 on 25 August, before moving to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London on 6 September. 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.


Armitage is a supporter of Huddersfield Town F.C. [3]. He is known to own a joint season ticket for Huddersfield Town and Huddersfield Giants rugby league team.

Published works

Poetry Collections

  • Zoom! (1989)
  • Xanadu (1992)
  • Kid (1992)
  • Book of Matches (1993)
  • The Dead Sea Poems (1995)
  • CloudCuckooLand (1997)
  • Killing Time. (1999)
  • Selected Poems (2001)
  • 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)


Many of Armitage's poems now appear in the AQA (Assessment and Qualifications Alliance) GCSE syllabus for English Literature in the United Kingdom. Some of these include: "Homecoming", "November", "Kid", "Hitcher", and a selection of poems from Book of Matches, most notably of these "Mother any distance...".


  • 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)


  • Homer's Odyssey (2006) [5]
  • Sir Gawain and The Green Knight (2007)

Other writing

  • 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)

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 1954-2004 (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)

Radio works

  • Second Draft from Saga Land - Six programmes for BBC Radio 3 retracing the footsteps of W. H. Auden and Louis MacNeice during their visit to Iceland in 1936.
  • Eyes of a Demigod - A programme on politician Victor Grayson in prose and verse commissioned by BBC Radio 3.
  • The Amherst Myth - A documentary feature on Emily Dickinson for BBC Radio 4.
  • Points of Reference - A programme, in verse, 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.
  • A Tree Full of Monkeys (2002) - A work commissioned by BBC Radio 3, created in collaboration with music group :zoviet*france:, to celebrate the opening of Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, UK.
  • The Odyssey (2004) - A three-part dramatisation for BBC Radio 4.
  • Writing the City (2005) - Five poems, recorded live at the West Yorkshire Playhouse with other northern English writers, commissioned by BBC Radio 3.


Armitage is featured in numerous anthologies including:

  • The Reater Issue 3 (Wrecking Ball Press)
  • AQA GCSE English/English Literature Anthology - Simon Armitage's poems and short stories are included throughout the anthology for GCSE students to study and then be examined at the end of their courses.



  1. ^ a b c Ogden, Rachael (June 2001). "Preview: Simon Armitage". The North Guide (UK: North Guide): 27. ISSN 1470-4153. 
  2. ^ "Shell Connections at the National". Peter Lathan. 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-03. 
  3. ^ "All Points North", Simon Armitage
  4. ^ See Simon Armitage's site for full publications listing
  5. ^ Mad, Wild, Hurling Tales of Odysseus’ Journey

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Simon Armitage (born May 26, 1963) is an English poet, playwright and novelist from Huddersfield. A selection of his poetry forms part of the GCSE syllabus for English Literature.


but it don't say why."

  • 'Killing Time (Millenium Poem)', from Killing Time.

"My party piece:
I strike, then from the moment when the matchstick
conjures up its light, to when the brightness moves
beyond its means, and dies, I say the story
of my life"

  • '*', from Book Of Matches.

"All land lines are down.
Reports of mobile phones
are false. One half-excoriated Apple Mac still quotes the Dow Jones."

  • from Convergence of the Twain.

"We walk to the ward from the badly parked car
with your grandma taking four short steps to our two.
We have brought her here to die and we know it."

  • 'November', from Zoom.

"Where does the hand become the wrist?
where does the neck become the shoulder? The watershed
and then the weight, whatever turns up and tips us over that
razor's edge
between something and nothing, between
one and the other."

  • 'Gooseberry Season', from Kid.

"Here's how they rated him when the looked back:
sometimes he did this, sometimes he did that."

  • 'Poem', from Kid.

"I've made out a will: I'm leaving myself
to the National Health. I'm sure they can use
the jellies and tubes and syrups and glues..."

  • '*', from Book Of Matches.

"Ignite the flares, connect the phones, wind all the clocks;
the sun goes rusty like a medal in its box -
collect it from the loft. Peg out the stars,
replace the bulbs of Jupiter and Mars.
A man like that takes something with him when he dies,
but he has wept the coins that rested on his eyes,
eased out the stopper from the mouthpiece of the cave,
exhumed his own white body from the grave."

  • '*', from Book Of Matches.

"Mother, any distance greater than a single span
requires a second pair of hands."

  • '*', from Book Of Matches.

"That heart had been an apple once, they reckoned. Green.
They had a scheme to plant an apple there again
beginning with a pip, but he rejected it."

  • 'Man with a Golf Ball Heart', from The Dead Sea Poems.

"Right here you made an angel of yourself,
free-falling backwards into last night's snow,
indenting a straight, neat, crucified shape,
then flapping your arms, one stroke, a great bird,
to leave the impression of wings. It worked."

  • 'A Glory', from Cloudcuckooland.

"Think, two things on their own and both at once."

  • 'Homecoming', from Cloudcuckooland.

"In a life, most of us turn no more than 45 degrees. Not much
compared to those who turn full-circle in the slighest breeze
or those who totally uncoil, but enough in the end
to tell a bag of diamonds from a sack of coal."

  • 'Crux', from Cloudcuckooland.

"Boy with the name and face I don't remember,
you can stop shouting now, I can still hear you."

  • 'The Shout', from The Universal Home Doctor.

"Lifetimes went past. With the critical mass
of hardly more than the thought of a thought
I kept on, headlong, to vanishing point.
I looked for an end, for some dimension
to hold hard and resist. But I still exist."

  • 'Incredible', from The Universal Home Doctor.


"I'm still young enough to think that death is something that happens to other people."

"People can't put on an opera, but they can write a poem. It's accessible art."

"The ordinary can be absolutely miraculous."

"Poets, I dare you to choose, for one night, the ambrosia over the ashes"

"Anyway, it's liberating when you get to a point in a poem where you can legitimately deviate from the form, and I like the tension that can exist between expectation and execution. Like there's something a little more idiosyncratic or individual going on."

[On an inspirational teacher:] "I wrote about how my mum put sixpence in the Christmas pudding - which wasn't true - and he didn't put it on the wall. I thought he'd rumbled me, but he came up to me later and put his arm round me and said 'By the way, Simon, that was a really good poem', and I thought, 'Well, why didn't you put it on the fucking wall, then?' And I've wondered since then if I've just been pursuing a revenge career. Every time I finish a piece I think, 'Put that on your wall!'"

External links

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