Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid [NOOK Book]


From one of the most important British poets at work today comes a brilliant new collection that meditates on human battles past and present, on youth and age, on monsters and underdogs, on the life of nations and the individual heart.

In Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid, we meet a writer who speaks naturally, and with frankness and restraint, for his culture. Armitage witnesses the pathos of women at work in the mock-Tudor Merrie ...
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Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid

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From one of the most important British poets at work today comes a brilliant new collection that meditates on human battles past and present, on youth and age, on monsters and underdogs, on the life of nations and the individual heart.

In Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid, we meet a writer who speaks naturally, and with frankness and restraint, for his culture. Armitage witnesses the pathos of women at work in the mock-Tudor Merrie England coffeehouses and gives us a backstage take on the world of Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger. He makes a gift to the reader of the sympathy and misery and grit buried in his nation’s collective consciousness: in the distant battle depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry and in the daily lives and petty crimes of ordinary people. In poems that are sometimes lyrical, sometimes brash and comic, and full of living voices, the extraordinary and the mythic grow out of the ordinary, and figures of diminishment and tragedy shine forth as mysterious, uncelebrated exemplars. Armitage tells us ruefully that “the future was a beautiful place, once,” and with a steady eye out for the odd mystery or joyous scrap of experience, examines our complex present instead.


Some storm that was, to shoulder-charge the wall
in my old man’s back yard and knock it flat.
But the greenhouse is sound, the chapel of glass
we glazed one morning. We glazed with morning.
And so is the hut. And so is the shed.

We sit in the ruins and drink. He smokes.
Back when, we would have built that wall again.
But today it’s enough to drink and smoke
amongst mortar and bricks, here at the empire’s end.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Armitage is one of the U.K.'s most popular, important and prolific poets-as well as a writer for TV and radio, a translator, a teacher and a member of a rock band. Following his 2005 selected poems The Shout, as well as a recent translation of Sir Gawain and a dramatic version of The Odyssey, this is Armitage's first individual collection to appear in the U.S., and it's high time. The collection, Armitage's 11th, amounts to an ambitious, personal meditation on the ugliness of life in a Western civilization at war with the Middle East, something Americans and the British have in common. A passage from the Cyclops section of The Odyssey, in which the hero and his crew commit an "act [that] was to haunt us," sets the stage for haunted political poems like "Republic," where the government forbids all but one color of car each day of the week, and "After the Hurricane," in which citizens "drink and smoke/ amongst mortar and bricks, here at empire's end." More personal poems bring the same feeling home with darkly self-deprecating humor: "I'm ugly because I proved God to be a mathematical impossibility." This collection attests that Armitage deserves to be seen as major poet at the peak of his powers on both sides of the pond. (Sept.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Women of the Merrie England Coffee Houses wipe "the crumbs from under our genius pomes." A beautiful "you" and an ugly "I" offer startling contrasts. A string of "Sympathy" poems captures stories that are creepy or sad. And throughout, British poet Armitage uses his fresh language and oddly inventive little scenarios to wake you up. Poetry as offbeat storytelling. (LJ10/15/08)

—Barbara Hoffert
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780307804310
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/2013
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 80
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Simon Armitage is the author of eleven previous books of poetry, including Zoom!, a Poetry Society Book Choice. He is also the author of two novels, the best-selling memoir All Points North, a new translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and most recently, The Odyssey: A Dramatic Retelling of Homer’s Epic. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, including the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, a Forward Poetry Prize, and a Lannan Literary Award. He lives in West Yorkshire and is a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University.

From the Hardcover edition.
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Read an Excerpt

A VisionThe future was a beautiful place, once.Remember the full-blown balsa-wood townon public display in the Civic Hall?The ring-bound sketches, artists' impressions,blueprints of smoked glass and tubular steel,board-game suburbs, modes of transportationlike fairground rides or executive toys.Cities like dreams, cantilevered by light.And people like us at the bottle banknext to the cycle path, or dog-walkingover tended strips of fuzzy-felt grass,or model drivers, motoring home inelectric cars. Or after the late show--strolling the boulevard. They were the plans,all underwritten in the neat left-handof architects--a true, legible script.I pulled that future out of the north windat the landfill site, stamped with today's date,riding the air with other such futures,all unlived in and now fully extinct.RoadshowWe were drawn uphill by the noise and light:a silver, extraterrestrial glowbeyond the hill's head; a deep, cardiovascularbass in the hill's hollow chest.We were heavy and slow, each footstep checkedby the pendulum of our unborn child--a counterweight swinging from Susan's heart.Day-glo arrows nailed to fences and treespointed the way, first along sea-view streets,past windows dressed with mail-order driftwoodand No Vacancies signs, then a sharp rightthrough a housing estate where locals emergedfrom hedges and gates, pushing tabs and wraps.Nothing for us.So the road levels out.But the moment we set foot in the parkthe lights are cut and the music fades. Andby pure chance, it's precisely at this pointthat the universe--having expanded since birth--reaches its limit and starts to contract.The crowd dopples past. The crowd pushes onto nightclubs and fire-holes down in the bay,inexhaustibly young and countless strong,streaming away, always streaming away.Poem on His BirthdayIIs he an undiscovered species living deep in the rain forests ofBorneo, or is he extinct?IIThey pass him through the boughs of a maple tree to ensurea long life. Thanks for that.IIIThe planets queue up to take the piss--especially the big onesmade of inhospitable gas.IVDogs come up to him and sniff. Their owners call them away.VHe is banned from the front seat of the car for taking hugebites out of the steering wheel.VIHe lifted the seashell to his ear as they said he should, andheard whispers and black lies.VIITwo dozen waxwings on the rotary drier. Meaning what?VIIIWho carried his crib into the house before he was born?IXThose kids collecting dead wood for the bonfire keep lookinghis way.XThey pull a small boy out of the earthquake after threeweeks, but what use is that to him?XIA black beetle scuttles over the living room floor, but it's hardto murder your own.XIIAs an adolescent he enjoyed the company of orchards andstreams.XIIIWhat's worse? A malignant melanoma or thick black hairsgrowing out of a facial mole?XIVLord, the butterfly that is his soul only flies while he sleeps.XVThe ravens have left the tower. Rooks have deserted the deadelm.XVIHe brings out the worst in people. Why aren't the Armybeating a path to his door?XVIIA soluble aspirin uncoiling in a single malt.XVIIIHe wears a Brazilian football shirt to cover the lack ofmuscle definition on his upper arms.XIXCount your friends using Roman numerals--it makes thetotal number seem more.xxHe bought an eternity ring forged from a coffin hinge.XXIThe sun obscured by cloud--his line manager laughingbehind her hand.XXIIHe loves his country but she committed adultery with a mancalled London.XXIIIThe Personnel Department--their collective smirk.XXIVHis neighbour uses the wrong colour-coded bin-bags and the police couldn't care less.XXVHe'd like to be on television just once, even if it meant making a complete turd of himself.XXVILike a peeled onion he attracts germs, thus sparing hiscolleagues from disease.XXVIIThey appreciate his custom, they thank him for continuingto hold.XXVIIIHe avoids leading the brainstorming session for fear ofelementary spelling mistakes.XXIXMaybe it's the coffee he's drinking. He should change to amore recognised brand.XXXHe saw Princess Anne going past in a car--does that count?XXXIHis only ornaments, the traffic cones he stole from a fatalaccident when he was eight.XXXIIHe found the very image of the Virgin Mary in a bakedpotato, but he had to eat.XXXIIIHis one contact in the world of high finance goes and diesfrom a monkey bite.XXXIVHe stands guard over the letterbox all night after the lastfireworks display in his street.XXXVThe foul breath of the fridge when he opens the door. Dittothe washing machine.XXXVIHe doesn't feel close to people until he can say with certaintywhat their problems are.XXXVIILord, he has eaten the cold ash from the hearth. Will thatsuffice?XXXVIIIIt's a case of Tyrannosaurus Rex versus The Corduroy Kid:the evolving peaks of his mountainous spine now noticeablethrough his favourite jacket, his fabric of choice.XXXIXAfter years of solitude anything is possible--even a moustache.XLOh to be wassailed like the apple tree, his lowest branchdipped in a cider pail, companionable villagers kissing hisroots, throwing hand-made tokens of good luck into hisarms, singing and singing his name.

From the Hardcover edition.

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