Simon Armitage named 2018 recipient of Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry

Acclaimed poet Simon Armitage has been named as the 2018 recipient of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.

Armitage, professor of poetry at Leeds University, is a former probation officer who has received widespread acclaim for his collections of verse which recount everyday events in a thought provoking way.

The Queen approved the recommendation of the poetry medal committee, chaired by Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, to award the honour for his body of work.

Dame Carol said: “From the beginning Simon Armitage was an original writer and a boundary-breaking poet.

“He spun poems of emotional weight and musical grace from the fabric of our everyday lives: the high street and suburbia, classrooms and tearooms, the pillion seat on a motorcycle.

“He touched the matter of our lives with characters and subject matter that lived among us: teachers and council tenants, chip shops and television shows, figures who drank in the local pub and shopped in the nearby supermarket.

“But the poems of Simon Armitage were always idealists too, equally at home in fictive, surrealist or utopic worlds as they were in his native Huddersfield town centre.

“With wit and charm, they would challenge hypocrisy wherever they encountered it, giving voice to those rarely admitted into poetry, and extending an arm around the unheard and the dispossessed.

“And for all the attention to the grain and trouble of daily lives, the poems never lost sight of wider horizons: our outer space full of possibilities, the dream space of our love.”

Armitage was born in 1963 in the village of Marsden, West Yorkshire, and after studying at Portsmouth and Manchester universities worked as a probation officer in Greater Manchester for a period.

His first full-length collection Zoom! (1989) featured some poems which drew on his experiences as a probation officer, and he has gone on to produce many works including The Dead Sea Poems (1995), Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid (2006) and The Unaccompanied (2017).

He also writes for radio, television, film and stage and has received numerous awards including the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year and the 2017 PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation.

The medal, first presented in 1934, is awarded for excellence in poetry, on the basis either of a body of work over several years, or for an outstanding poetry collection issued during the year of the award.

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