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The Shout: Selected Poems

The Shout: Selected Poems

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by Simon Armitage

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bitter wit, laddish insouciance, mysterious story lines and up-to-the-minute, sometimes satirical topics made Armitage's verse a big hit in early-1990s Britain: his first three books (among them ZOOM! and Kid) pushed the former probation officer to the forefront of the so-called New Generation Poets, whose frequently rhymed and metered verse aspired to the immediacy and accessibility of rock music. Though Armitage has 11 books of verse in the U.K., this selection is his first in America, sacrificing chronological order to create provocative juxtapositions. A sonnet about a "Man with a Golf Ball Heart" rubs shoulders with a disquietingly flip, propulsively metred poem about failed suicides. Stanzas about all too ordinary failed love affairs, or about the disillusioned Everyman "Robinson" (whom Armitage borrows from the American poet Weldon Kees) offset weirder, wilder verse in which "there's more going on/ than they'd have us believe": an automobile tire hops between dimensions, an amputee becomes a super-strong cyborg, and Robin tells Batman it's over. Armitage so often depends on nuances of English middle-class life that Americans may not fall for him, though his tough-guy persona, good jokes and metrical skills could help. Charles Simic provides a short but appreciative preface. Harcourt has invested heavily in contemporary British verse and could probably gain from a group promotion. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
British poet Armitage writes in direct, almost offhand language about daily events like a bus ride or a snowed-in Christmas, then suddenly throws in a deadpan account of a hitchhiker's murder. Not the prolific poet's first publication stateside but one that should put him on the poetry map here. (LJ 8/05) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
"Armitage creates a muscular but elegant language of his own out of slangy, youthful, up-to-the-minute jargon and the vernacular of his native northern England. He combines this with an easily worn erudition . . . to produce poems of moving originality." -THE SUND AY TIMES

New York Sun
"Armitage's clever, surprising poems recall both Paul Muldoon and James Tate."
Phildelphia Inquirer
"The Shout cements two truths simultaneously: Armitage knows what he's doing, and it's time America knew too.."

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Shout

Selected Poems
By Simon Armitage


Copyright © 2005 Simon Armitage
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0151011184

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

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.


Excerpted from The Shout by Simon Armitage Copyright © 2005 by Simon Armitage. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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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The Shout 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Realy good book highly recommended