Second royal award for our Professor of Poetry

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

Simon Armitage August 2018

Professor Armitage is a former probation officer, who has received widespread acclaim for his collections of verse that recount everyday events in a thought-provoking way.

He was awarded the CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2010 for services to poetry. The University also recognised his outstanding achievements and awarded him an honorary degree in 2015.

Now, he is the Professor of Poetry at Leeds, where the Library’s Special Collections is home to his official archive of manuscripts and writing from the past 20 years, including papers stretching back to 1984, when he was aged just 21.

The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, 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 collection issued during the year of the award. The Queen approved the recommendation of the medal committee, chaired by Poet Laureate Dame Carol Ann Duffy, to award the honour to Professor Armitage.

Dame Carol described him as “an original writer and a boundary-breaking poet”, who “spun poems of emotional weight and musical grace from the fabric of our everyday lives”.

She added his poems “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.''

Professor Armitage said: “I am absolutely delighted by the award. When you write poems you’re not always sure they are hitting the mark. So, this is incredibly flattering.”

His first full-length collection – Zoom! (1989) – featured poems that drew on his experiences as a probation officer, and he has gone on to produce many works since, 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.

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