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Two Poems

Simon Armitage

5 June 1997
... The Ram Half-dead, hit by a car, the whole of its form a jiggle of nerves, like a fish on a lawn. To help finish it off, he asked me to stand on its throat, as a friend might ask a friend to hold, with a finger, the twist of a knot. Then he lifted its head, wheeled it about by the ammonite, handlebar shells of its horns The Swordfish After the weapon had drawn blood for the first time it happened to ...
20 August 1992
... After Boccaccio buddies through dozens of scrapes and hassles, the first knight thought he was happily wed, the second man slept in a single bed. One morning, at leisure, the married man was walking his dog by the parish dam and spied his wife across the water, and waited a while, and caught her in the arms of his friend – naked, consenting. To say the least this really upset him so later, he ran ...

Deor

Simon Armitage

21 February 2013
... Weland the goldsmith      knew grief’s weight. That strong-minded man      was no stranger to misery, his loyal soul-mates      were sorrow and longing, a hurt like winter      weathered his heart once Niðhad had hamstrung      and hobbled his hopes, fettering the feet      of the worthier fellow. As that passed over      may this pass also. Beadohilde was ...

For the Record

Simon Armitage

21 August 1997
... Ever since the very brutal extraction of all four of my wisdom teeth, I’ve found myself talking with another man’s mouth, so to speak, and my tongue has become a mollusc such as an oyster or clam, broken and entered, licking its wounds in its shell. I was tricked into sleep by a man with a smile, who slipped me the dose like a great-uncle slipping his favourite nephew a ten-pound note, like so ...

The Invasion

Simon Armitage

23 July 2009
... translated from ‘The Alliterative Morte Arthure’ King Arthur was on his mighty boat with many men, enclosed in a cabin among copious equipment. And while resting on a richly arrayed bed he was soothed to sleep by the swaying of the sea. And he dreamed of a dragon dreadful to behold that came droning and driving from across the deep, arrowing directly from the regions of the West, swooping with ...

Three Poems

Simon Armitage

19 October 2000
... The Hard Here on the Hard, you’re welcome to pull up and stay; there’s a flat fee of a quid for parking all day. And wandering over the dunes, who wouldn’t die for the view: an endless estate of beach, the sea kept out of the bay by the dam-wall of the sky. Notice the sign, with details of last year’s high tides. Walk on, drawn to the shipwreck, a mirage of masts a mile or so out, seemingly ...

Three Poems

Simon Armitage

22 July 1993
... The Lost Letter of the Late Jud Fry Wake. And in my head walk barefoot naked from the bed towards the day, then wait. Hold. The dawn will crack its egg into the morning’s bowl and him on horseback, gold. Me, I’m in the shed, I’m working on it: a plus b plus c, it’s you, him, me. It’s three. Hell, this hole, this shack. The sun makes light of me behind my back. Well, good. I give you the applause ...

Dome Laureate

Dennis O’Driscoll: Simon Armitage

27 April 2000
Killing Time 
by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 52 pp., £6.99, December 1999, 0 571 20360 4
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Short and Sweet: 101 Very Short Poems 
edited by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 112 pp., £4.99, October 1999, 9780571200016
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... SimonArmitage likes to have it both ways. He is the streetwise poet who is at home in a Radio 1 studio; but he is also the ambitious literary figure who aspires to ‘nothing less’ than a Nobel Prize. He is at ...
20 March 1997
Moon Country: Further Reports from Iceland 
by Simon Armitage and Glyn Maxwell.
Faber, 160 pp., £7.99, November 1996, 0 571 17539 2
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... my Letters from Iceland is a sturdy and well-made object of considerable literary and historical interest, which has sustained numerous readings and spillages, while remaining in excellent condition. SimonArmitage and Glyn Maxwell visited Iceland in 1994, to retrace the steps of Auden and MacNeice. They made a recording of the trip for a five-part BBC radio series, Second Draft from Sagaland, first ...

Who has the gall?

Frank Kermode: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

8 March 2007
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 
translated by Bernard O’Donoghue.
Penguin, 94 pp., £8.99, August 2006, 0 14 042453 9
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Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 
translated by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 114 pp., £12.99, January 2007, 978 0 571 22327 5
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... it, so there already exist a good many useful translations, and now we have two more, both by established poets. One of them, Bernard O’Donoghue, is a professional medievalist as well. The other, SimonArmitage, a Northerner, claims the advantage of familiarity with dialect forms that linger in his part of the country. The first decision the translator must take is whether or not to alliterate. We ...

How much?

Ian Hamilton: Literary pay and literary prizes

18 June 1998
Guide to Literary Prizes, 1998 
edited by Huw Molseed.
Book Trust, 38 pp., £3.99, May 1998, 0 85353 475 6
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The Cost of Letters: A Survey of Literary Living Standards 
edited by Andrew Holgate and Honor Wilson-Fletcher.
W Magazine, 208 pp., £2, May 1998, 0 9527405 9 1
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... Day-Lewis – when asked to name his target – reached for the hair-shirt. He wanted an income ‘small enough not to encourage laziness or dilettantism . . . say £150 to £300 a year’. And SimonArmitage, in 1998, seems to agree that now and then a bit of poverty can keep a writer on his toes. ‘At some points in my life it’s suited me to be skint,’ he says. ‘Poetry is connected with ...

Emotional Sushi

Ian Sansom: Tony, Nick and Simon

9 August 2001
One for My Baby 
by Tony Parsons.
HarperCollins, 330 pp., £15.99, July 2001, 0 00 226182 0
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How to Be Good 
by Nick Hornby.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, May 2001, 0 670 88823 0
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Little Green Man 
by Simon Armitage.
Viking, 246 pp., £12.99, August 2001, 0 670 89442 7
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... tests his characters’ marriage with conundrums. When it looks like Katie’s lover, Stephen, might start causing some serious trouble, he is politely asked to leave – and he does. The beauty of SimonArmitage’s new novel is that it’s prepared to face up to things. But then of course Armitage has the great advantage of coming from West Yorkshire. He is also a poet (Little Green Man is his ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945

1 April 1999
The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... principle’, these new books must negotiate between producing a consensual ‘modern poetry reader’ and creating something more than a stepping-stone between us and several dozen Collected Poems. Armitage and Crawford entitle their introduction ‘The Democratic Voice’, binding the last fifty years of poetry into its wider social and cultural contexts – education acts, decolonisation, immigration ...
25 June 1992
Kid 
by Simon Armitage.
Faber, 89 pp., £4.99, June 1992, 0 571 16607 5
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Feast Days 
by John Burnside.
Secker, 52 pp., £6, April 1992, 0 436 20103 8
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An African Elegy 
by Ben Okri.
Cape, 84 pp., £4.99, March 1992, 9780224030069
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Memorabilia 
by Colin Falck.
Taxus, 77 pp., £5.95, March 1992, 1 873012 23 3
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Serious Concerns 
by Wendy Cope.
Faber, 87 pp., £12.99, March 1992, 9780571166589
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... all-encompassing uniformity that produces, for the poet as for others, a situation of unprecedented uncertainty and opportunity. There is plurality in plenty, and not merely of a superficial sort, in SimonArmitage’s Kid. It is a varied, versatile collection, showing considerable facility in its rhythmic variations and in its generation of often surprising feminine and half-rhymes. Armitage maps a ...
6 July 1995
A Word from the Loki 
by Maurice Riordan.
Faber, 64 pp., £6.99, January 1995, 0 571 17364 0
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After the Deafening 
by Gerard Woodward.
Chatto, 64 pp., £7.99, October 1994, 0 7011 6271 6
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The Ice-Pilot Speaks 
by Pauline Stainer.
Bloodaxe, 80 pp., £6.95, October 1994, 1 85224 298 1
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The Angel of History 
by Carolyn Forché.
Bloodaxe, 96 pp., £7.95, November 1994, 1 85224 307 4
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The Neighbour 
by Michael Collier.
Chicago, 74 pp., £15.95, January 1995, 0 226 11358 2
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Jubilation 
by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 64 pp., £6.99, March 1995, 0 19 282451 1
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... In a recent radio programme, SimonArmitage and Glyn Maxwell, two of the most prominent of the New Generation poets, retraced the journey undertaken by Auden and MacNeice in Letters From Iceland – a sign of the renewed interest which younger ...

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