Armitage's first appearance at the Book Festival
Decorated poet goes in a new direction and talks poetry performances
This article is from 2010.
This will be the first Book Festival appearance of Simon Armitage CBE, since the nod was given the much-adored Huddersfield poet’s way in the Queen’s birthday honours earlier this year. ‘Flattered,’ is how he felt. ‘That’s it. Just flattered.’ He’s lost for words for once, and he still doesn’t know who nominated him. There’s also a new book out, a poetry collection called Seeing Stars. ‘They’re quite differently styled to my usual stuff,’ he says. ‘I’d say they’re story poems. Quite absurd, some monologues, some narratives, but more narratively explicit than anything I’ve done before. I think I wanted to get away from form and lyricism for a while. I’ve been writing more or less the same way for the best part of 20 years, so I tried things which I recognise as being radically different and just kept going when I found I enjoyed it.’
Next, Armitage will be writing about his experience of walking the Pennine Way last month, and he continues to read at least once a week. ‘There’s been a narrowing of the ground between what we might call performance poetry and literary poetry recently,’ he says. ‘There’s a young crop of writers who are more comfortable getting up and reading in settings which weren’t always appropriate to poetry, like festivals. I think what’ll happen next is that poetry becomes too popular and we have to go and invent it again, because if it’s too popular, it’s not doing its job. It has to be awkward and stubborn and dissenting. And not prose. It has to require thought and concentration.’
28 Aug, 8.30pm, £10 (£8).