Whitgift was delighted to welcome Simon Armitage CBE, celebrated poet and Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford and the University of Leeds, as part of our Academic Enrichment Programme. Not just a poet, Simon is also a lyricist and broadcaster who writes extensively for television, radio and theatre.
Armitage’s poems have been part of GCSE and A Level exams for nearly two decades now. He has published a dozen collections of poetry including Paper Aeroplane and his new book, The Unaccompanied. His acclaimed modern translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight has sold over one hundred thousand copies.
Armitage's writing for television and radio includes the BAFTA-winning Feltham Sings, for which he received a prestigious Ivor Novello Award for song-writing; his theatre work including The Last Days of Troy, performed at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre and Shakespeare's Globe. The recipient of numerous awards, Armitage was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, in 2004, and awarded the CBE for services to poetry, in 2010.
Whilst at Whitgift, Simon ran an analytical session about how to approach poetry, with a select group of 40 Fifth Form and Sixth Form boys, using the poetry of Thom Gunn, Ted Hughes, and Elizabeth Bishop as springboards into a more wide-ranging discussion.
Later in the day, Simon spoke with wry wit about his career and interests to-date, interspersed with engaging and droll reading of his poetry, to a packed out Concert Hall. We were very lucky to have such an eminent writer at the School, and boys have been set the task of writing their own poems inspired by his work – with a signed copy of his Selected Poems as a prize. We look forward to reading their entries.