Context

The poet as a young man

Simon Armitage was born in 1963 in West Yorkshire.

He studied Geography at Portsmouth University and completed an MA at Manchester, where he wrote his dissertation on the effects of television violence on young offenders.

Afterwards he worked as a probation officer. This job influenced many of the poems in Zoom!, his first collection which was published in 1989.

He then had various other jobs, including DJ and shelf stacker.

Wordplay and roots

Many of Armitage's poems contain puns and other wordplay. His poetry demonstrates a strong concern for social issues, as well as drawing on his Yorkshire roots.

He likes to use the Yorkshire dialect and is interested in different dialects and slang. He writes about everyday events in a thought provoking way.

Armitage is often noted for his ‘ear’ - he has a strong sense of rhythm, metre and voice.

Favourite themes

Family is an important topic, as is music. He likes to look at personal relationships, frequently drawing on his own life experience.

He often uses the monologue form in his poetry to create immediate and moving characters. His delivery is deadpan and sometimes darkly humorous.

Writing credits

Armitage is not solely a poet. He has written scripts for film, television and radio as well as fiction and non-fiction books. He pens the lyrics for his band - The Scaremongers – and he wrote the libretto for the opera, The Assassin Tree.

He has also translated the Middle English tale of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Homer's Odyssey from the original Greek.

Armitage was made a CBE for services to poetry in 2010. He was elected Oxford University's Professor of Poetry in 2015.

He lives in Yorkshire, dividing his time between writing and broadcasting.