It is with great pleasure we announce the appointment of Simon Armitage as the new Poet Laureate.
The origins of the poet laureateship date back to the seventeenth century, when it was established as a royal office. Now an honorary position – voted for in 2019 by a government-appointed advisory panel, made up of experts from around the UK – the Poet Laureate is the ‘nation’s poet’, writing verse that responds to and reflects upon the country today.
“Poetry has the power to connect us to people, places and ideas. It also cuts across social and cultural divides. The important role of Poet Laureate helps to record key moments in British history and celebrates our rich literary tradition.” - Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
One of the country’s most recognisable poets Simon Armitage has carved out a niche for himself as a wry observer of popular culture and documenter of 21st century British society. His ability to illuminate the lives of the disenchanted and disaffected stems from his background as a probation officer in Oldham, a job which he retained until 1994. By then he had already published three volumes of poetry, including the seminal Kid, and been named Most Promising Young Poet by the Forward Society in 1992. His vibrant Northern vernacular and the informality of his subject matter have been mainstays of British poetry ever since, with subsequent collections such as CloudCuckooLand and The Universal Home Doctor deepening his preoccupations with nationhood and political justice.
In the early years of the 21st century he began turning his hand to prose as well, the novels Little Green Man and The White Stuff coming out in 2001 and 2004 respectively, with two volumes of travel writing, Walking Home and Walking Away, following nearly a decade later. He has always been transfixed by myth and legend as well, and his more recent translations of traditional verse such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight have introduced a whole new readership to the poetic classics.
Fittingly for a poet with a passion for popular music, Sandettie Light Vessel Automatic represents Armitage’s rarities album. Gathering together one-off poems for public events and idiosyncratic commissions, much of this verse has never been presented on the page before. Always vital and in tune with their subjects, these disparate pieces combine to form a picture of a consistently great poet.