The Shoutby Simon Armitage
Simon Armitage is arguably the leading British poet of the past twenty years. His knowledge of the English just as they are ("a gentleman farmer / living on reduced means, a cricketer's widow, / sowing a kitchen garden with sweet peas"),
Now in paperback, the powerful selected work of Simon Armitage, the most distinctive poetic voice of contemporary Britain.
Simon Armitage is arguably the leading British poet of the past twenty years. His knowledge of the English just as they are ("a gentleman farmer / living on reduced means, a cricketer's widow, / sowing a kitchen garden with sweet peas"), his colloquial Yorkshire wit and eye for situational ironies, his ability to steal up on us with the surreal while capturing the ordinary speech of everyday life: these qualities place him at the forefront of British poetry today. This slim volume is the perfect introduction to his work for newcomers, or the ideal selection for longtime readers to keep on the bedside table.
- Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt
The ShoutSelected Poems
By Simon Armitage
HarcourtCopyright © 2005 Simon Armitage
All right reserved.
We went out
into the school yard together, me and the boy
whose name and face
I don't remember. We were testing the range
of the human voice:
he had to shout for all he was worth,
I had to raise an arm
from across the divide to signal back
that the sound had carried.
He called from over the park- I lifted an arm.
Out of bounds,
he yelled from the end of the road,
from the foot of the hill,
from beyond the look-out post of Fretwell's Farm-
I lifted an arm.
He left town, went on to be twenty years dead
with a gunshot hole
in the roof of his mouth, in Western Australia.
Boy with the name and face I don't remember,
you can stop shouting now, I can still hear you.
Which reminds me. He appeared
at noon, asking for water. He'd walked from town
after losing his job, leaving a note for his wife and his brother
and locking his dog in the coal bunker.
We made him a bed
and be slept till Monday.
A week went by and he hung up his coat.
Then a month, and not a stroke of work, a word of thanks,
a farthing of rent or a sign of him leaving.
One evening he mentioned a recipe
for smooth, seedless gooseberry sorbet
but bythen I was tired of him: taking pocket money
from my boy at cards, sucking up to my wife and on his last night
sizing up my daughter. He was smoking my pipe
as we stirred his supper.
Where does the hand become the wrist?
Where does the neck become the shoulder? The watershed
and then the weight, whatever turns up and tips us over that razor's edge
between something and nothing, between
one and the other.
I could have told him this
but didn't bother. We ran him a bath
and held him under, dried him off and dressed him
and loaded him into the back of the pick-up.
Then we drove without headlights
to the county boundary,
dropped the tailgate, and after my boy
had been through his pockets we dragged him like a mattress
across the meadow and on the count of four
threw him over the border.
This is not general knowledge, except
in gooseberry season, which reminds me, and at the table
I have been known to raise an eyebrow, or scoop the sorbet
into five equal portions, for the hell of it.
I mention this for a good reason.
Copyright © 2005 by Simon Armitage
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Meet the Author
SIMON ARMITAGE is professor of poetry at the University of Sheffield, U.K., and has written extensively for radio and television. His previous titles include Kid, Book of Matches, The Dead Sea Poems, CloudCuckooLand, Killing Time, The Universal Home Doctor, Homer's Odyssey, Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid, and Seeing Stars. His many honors include the Forward Prize and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year award. His acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was published in 2007.
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