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Poet Simon Armitage impresses all

The Haileybury Literary Society last Friday welcomed Simon Armitage, one of the most popular poets writing in English today, to the school.

His reading to about 50 Haileybury Sixth Formers was one of the most popular Literary Society events ever. Each poem was prefaced with a brief explanation; sometimes Simon would embellish this with an anecdote about how the poem came to be written. And then, on one occasion, he simply started reading a long, currently unpublished poem. Ugly Beautiful touched many in the audience for both its surprising and memorable imagery as well as its sheer beauty: it was confirmation that this remarkable poet is still at the height of his creative power.

The reading concluded with a question and answer session in which students asked him about many areas related to writing. He stayed on to sign books and to talk further to pupils.

Simon has published nine volumes of poetry including Killing Time and Selected Poems. He writes for radio, television and film, is the author of four stage plays, including Mister Heracles, and his first novel, Little Green Man, was published in 2001.

He has taught at the University of Leeds and the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop, and currently teaches at Manchester Metropolitan University. With Robert Crawford he edited The Penguin Anthology of Poetry from Britain and Ireland Since 1945, and two further collections of poetry, The Universal Home Doctor and Travelling Songs, are his most recent collections. His work for television is hugely popular: Feltham Sings, which used young offenders, and Pornography: the Musical, have earned him national and international awards.

"He left us all impressed with his ability, his approachability and his lack of pretension. It was a terrific evening," says head of English, Dr David James.

The next Literary Society event is on Friday 27th February when Tony Harrison, Britain’s leading film and theatre poet, will visit the school. He has written for the National Theatre in London, the New York Metropolitan Opera, the BBC and Channel 4 television. His films using verse narrative include V, about vandalism, broadcast by Channel 4 television in 1987 and winner of a Royal Television Society Award; Black Daisies for the Bride, winner of the Prix Italia in 1994; and The Blasphemers’ Banquet, screened by the BBC in 1989, an attack on censorship inspired by the Salman Rushdie affair. He wrote and directed his first feature film Prometheus in 1998. In 1995 he was commissioned by The Guardian to visit Bosnia and write poems about the war. His most recent collection of poetry is Laureate’s Block and Other Occasional Poems (2000).

If you would like to reserve a place for this event please contact The School Office on 01992 706205. For further information on Tony Harrison, please contact Dr David James, Head of English.