Simon Armitage Biography
Simon Armitage is arguably Britain's most popular poet. He is also a regular and engaging guest on arts programmes on British television. He became Britain's 21st poet laureate in 2019.
Born in 1963 in the West Yorkshire village of Marsden, Simon Armitage still lives in the county of his birth. Armitage's early life and work didn't indicate that poetry would turn out to be his vocation.
Graduating at Portsmouth University with a degree in Geography, Simon Armitage also took up a postgraduate course at Manchester University. There he studied how young offenders were influenced by TV violence. Armitage worked in Greater Manchester as a probation officer until 1994, but collections of his poetry had been appearing since 1989.
Early Poetry Collections
The prestigious publishing company, Bloodaxe Books, published Simon Armitage's 'Zoom!' in 1989, which was the poet's first full length collection of poems. As with many emerging British poets, Armitage had also been published via the small press scene.
In the 1990s, another notable publishers, Faber & Faber, published several Simon Armitage collections. They were 'Kid (1992)', 'Book of Matches (1993)', 'The Dead Sea Poems (1995)', 'Moon Country (with Glyn Maxwell) (1996)', 'CloudCuckooLand (1997)' and 'Killing Time (1999)'. Faber & Faber also published 'Selected Poems' in 2001. Also in the 1990s, Armitage's 'The Anaesthetist' was published by Prospero Poets (1994).
Awards for Poetry and Radio and TV Work
Armitage has won the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year award and in 1999 he was chosen as the Millennium Poet. To commemorate the new millennium, Armitage composed 'Killing Time', which was a one thousand line poem and a nod at the next thousand years. Armitage has also won a Lannan Award and a Forward Prize.
As well as being published in print, Simon Armitage writes stage plays and writes for radio and television and also film. In 2004, BBC Radio 4 broadcast his adaptation of Homer's 'The Odyssey'. It was published by Faber & Faber in 2006 in the UK and, in the US, by Norton. A CD version was also released, and the play won the Gold Award at the 2005 Spoken Word Awards. Armitage's first novel 'Little Green Man' was published in 2001 by Penguin. He's also dabbled in pop music and is the lead singer for The Scaremongers, whose first album, 'Born In a Barn', was released in 2009. Simon Armitage's song lyrics for 'Feltham Sings', broadcast by Channel 4 in 2002, saw the poet win an Ivor Novello Award.
In the past decade, Faber & Faber have also published Armitage's 'Travelling Songs' in 2002 and 'The Universal Home Doctor' in the same year. Faber & Faber also published 'Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid (2006)' and 'Seeing Stars' in 2010. Harcourt published, in 2005, 'The Shout', which was a book of Armitage's selected poetry and new work. Simon Armitage also co-edited, with Robert Crawford, 'The Penguin Anthology of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945'.
Simon Armitage was an Artist in Residence at London's South Bank for three years, and was, in 2011, made Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield. He has also been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
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