‘Carry your heart like an egg on a spoon’

A poet and he knows it: Simon Armitage has published 28 poetry collections.

Those are the beautiful words of Simon Armitage, the UK’s new poet laureate, announced this week. Poetry will never be mainstream, he says, but today it is more relevant than ever.

What’s happening

Simon Armitage has written about everything from climate change to Batman, astronauts to Poundland. His poems have been carved into stones in the Yorkshire countryside.

Last week, it was announced that he would be taking over from Carol Ann Duffy as the UK’s new poet laureate.

Find out more

The job has been around since 1668. The poet laureate is a member of the royal household. They were originally employed to write poems to commemorate events like coronations or royal weddings. These days, it is more about promoting poetry.

Armitage has been doing that for years. His style is simple, direct and often funny. He likes to write about ordinary lives.

Now, he says he wants to use his new job to encourage a new generation of young poets in Britain.

Poetry is “more valuable and more relevant than it’s ever been”, Armitage told the BBC. Is that true?

Some say…

Poetry is not relevant to our lives. Hardly anyone reads it outside school, and it can often be confusing or difficult to understand. It would be better to have an official novel writer or musician. That way, the work would reach more people.

Others think…

Poetry is absolutely relevant to our lives. If you have ever been to a wedding or a funeral, you probably heard someone read a poem during the service. We reach for it at the most important moments in our lives. Thank goodness it is always there.

You Decide

  1. What is your favourite poet?

Activities

  1. Discuss Simon Armitage’s poem “Give”, written in the image at the top of this article. What is it about? What is the double-meaning of the word “change”? How else is the language used to make a point?

Some People Say...

“The greatest art requires the least explanation.”

Simon Armitage

What do you think?

Word Watch

Climate change
Long-term changes to the Earth’s weather and temperature. The Earth is currently going through a period of man-made climate change.
Laureate
Someone who has been honoured, or received an award, in a particular area.
Royal household
The departments and organisations of the royal family.
Commemorate
Mark or celebrate.
Coronations
Ceremonies where a new monarch is crowned.
Encourage
Help and support.

Subjects

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