February 27, 2019, 6 p.m., McManus Theater
Simon Armitage is the Oxford University Professor of Poetry. He is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Selected Poems (2001, Faber & Faber), Traveling Songs (2002, Faber & Faber), Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid (2006, Faber & Faber; 2008, Knopf), and Seeing Stars (2010, Faber & Faber; 2011, Knopf). With Robert Crawford he edited The Penguin Anthology of Poetry from Britain and Ireland Since 1945.
Armitage writes for radio, television and film, and is the author of four plays, including Mister Heracles, a version of Euripides’ The Madness of Heracles, and Jerusalem, commissioned by West Yorkshire Playhouse. His dramatization of The Odyssey, commissioned by the BBC, was broadcast on Radio 4 in 2004 and released on CD through BBC Worldwide. It received the Gold Award at the 2005 Spoken Word Awards. The book version, Homer’s Odyssey – A Retelling, was published by Faber and Faber (2006) in the UK and by Norton in the US. Other BBC radio plays include The Raft of the Medusa (2014) and Orpheus (2015). For over ten years he has been a regular guest of The Mark Radcliffe Show, first on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and more recently on the Radcliffe and Maconie Show on BBC 6 Music.
Armitage has written more than a dozen television films, and with director Brian Hill pioneered the docu-musical format which led to such cult films as Drinking for England and Song Birds. Song Birds screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006. He received an Ivor Novello Award for his song lyrics in the Channel 4 film Feltham Sings, which also won a BAFTA. In 2009 and 2010, Armitage presented films for BBC4 on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, on Arthurian Literature and on The Odyssey, in which he sailed from Troy in Turkey to Ithaca. Armitage’s 2012 nonfiction book Walking Home, an account of his troubadour journey along the Pennine Way, was a Sunday Times best-seller for over a month and was shortlisted for the 2012 Portico Prize. The follow-up publication, Walking Away, also made the Sunday Times best-seller list for non-fiction. Armitage has served as a judge for the Forward Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whitbread Prize, the Griffin Prize, and in 2006 was a judge for the Man Booker Prize.