12-13 March 2020, Université de Lille (France)
The biographical note accompanying one of the first poems Simon Armitage ever published, read simply: “SIMON ARMITAGE was born in Marsden, Huddersfield in 1963, he is now a post-graduate at Manchester University” (Iron Magazine 1986).
Today Simon Armitage’s list of publications boasts over 20 collections of poetry, from Human Geography (Smith/Doorstop Books 1986) to Sandette Light Vessel Automatic (Faber 2019), as well as a number of plays and radio dramas, two novels, two travel books, a collection of essays, his memoirs, literary anthologies, film poems, poetry documentaries for television, and innumerable conferences and public appearances. He has also been the recipient of a vast number of literary prizes and awards.
On the 10th of May 2019, towards the end of his time as Oxford Professor of Poetry, he was appointed as the UK’s Poet Laureate, succeeding Carol Anne Duffy for a fixed term of ten years. His appointment to one of the most prestigious roles in English poetry makes this an opportune moment to look back on the poetic career of a man who was still working as a probation officer during the publication of his first four major collections (Zoom!, 1989 to Book of Matches, 1993). The analysis of his career might focus on concepts of emergence, legitimisation and canonisation. Participants might consider contributions based on the following, non-exhaustive, list of themes and questions:
- Armitage as an example of exchanges between margin and centre
- Armitage’s relationship with classic literature and traditional literary forms (translations, re-dramatisations, formal constraints etc.)
- Armitage in translation (Paul Bensimon in French, Jan Wagner in German, Erminia Passannanti and M. Bocchiola in Italian…)
- the reception of Armitage’s poetry beyond the UK and in non-anglophone countries
- Armitage and anthologies (both those he has edited and those in which his work is included)
- Armitage’s relationship with other poets of his generation (both those in the so-called “New Generation” and those not included in this list)
- Armitage’s relationship with poets that have inspired him (e.g. Ted Hughes) and with new or younger poets
- Armitage as performer (poetry readings, conferences, television and radio broadcasts)
- Armitage’s humour
- representations of Armitage and his poetry in the press and via social media
- Armitage and literary prizes (as recipient and jury member)
- The Simon Armitage Archives at Leeds University
- Armitage on the GCSE curriculum
- the reception of Armitage beyond poetry circles (e.g. controversy surrounding the Stanza Stones)
- Armitage in relation to ‘Englishness’ and Northern English identity and culture
- Armitage and the political context of Brexit and the absence of English devolution
- Armitage’s appointment as Poet Laureate
Abstracts of 500 words max (preferably in English), accompanied by a biography/bibliography of 150 words max, should be sent to email@example.com by 30 September 2019. The results of the committee’s selection process will be sent out in November.