Thursday, June 27, 2013

Only a Northern Song

Photo BBC

Yorkshire Poet, cultural explorer and pop manque Simon Armitage is best known in the UK as one of our foremost modern bards who frequently pops up on radio and television presenting what are usually, fascinating examinations of  historical figures drawn from Arthurian legend or Ancient Greek tragedy. I must say, I like the cut of his jib and love hearing that warm Yorkshire brogue which to a Liverpool ear is however, indiscernible from the Lancashire accent, or even a Derbyshire or North Staffordshire accent come to that. Mind you, any accent from the south east be it London, Essex or Kent is all Cockney to me!  I was recently recommended Simon’s Walking Home about his long distance walk down the Pennine Way, which the publisher’s blurb offers the following information..

 In summer 2010 Simon Armitage decided to walk the Pennine Way. The challenging 256-mile route is usually approached from south to north, from Edale in the Peak District to Kirk Yetholm, the other side of the Scottish border. He resolved to tackle it the other way round: through beautiful and bleak terrain, across lonely fells and into the howling wind, he would be walking home, towards the Yorkshire village where he was born. Travelling as a 'modern troubadour' without a penny in his pocket, he stopped along the way to give poetry readings in village halls, churches, pubs and living rooms. His audiences varied from the passionate to the indifferent, and his readings were accompanied by the clacking of pool balls, the drumming of rain and the bleating of sheep.
 I’ve got say, this sounds more my cup of tea than yet another ‘How I beat Everest’ or ‘Kanchenjunga: Death or Glory’. There is certainly a poetic quality to the brooding northern uplands.  In fact,talking of northern uplands, I did a little piece last year on The Guardian’s Northerner Blog about Simon upsetting the outdoor public with his Stanza Stones trail in Ilkley. Personally, I like it and it fits into the landscape a lot more sympathetically than a huge upland wind farm for sure. 

In late summer Simon will once again assume the travelling troubadour role when he takes off once again on a long distance walk. This time in the South West. Following the Coastal path from Somerset to Land’s End ‘and beyond’ . Following the ragged Celtic shores of Kernow. Simon writes on his website..

 Once again I'll be bartering my way from start to finish, giving readings and passing the hat around, inviting the audience to put in whatever they think I'm worth. I want to see if I can pay my way with poetry alone, but this time away from my home ground, and getting further distant every day, towards where the country narrows to a point and the Atlantic begins.  If you'd like me to give a reading in your local pub, village hall, theatre, school, gallery, church, barn, living room etc, can offer me food and shelter for the night and sherpa my unfashionable turquoise suitcase on to the next stop, please get in touch at the following address:
If you live in the South west or happen to be there in late Summer, check out Simon’s full itinerary on the link below. Reckon it'll be reet grand me'sel!

Simon Armitage Website 

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