Yes. Awesome. Fantastic.
The selection of Simon Armitage as Oxford’s new Professor of Poetry does something special for the world of poetry.
Armitage is a bit of a badass … with an abiding love of English tradition.
He’s found new ways to invigorate old epics (“Gawain and the Green Knight,” “Death of King Arthur”) that’s good for young poets. He makes that material cool, relevant … hardly the domain of musty old scholars in tweedy jackets writing with a density that defies the lay person’s understanding.
For me, too much of modern poetry is a puzzle. Some kind of strange insider’s game that makes no sense to anyone except the one who wrote it.
When I want to read current working poets, I turn to Charles Wright, or Michael Odom, or Anne Carson, or Robin Robertson or Carol Ann Duffy … or Armitage. All of them are steeped in tradition with a capital T.
I loved Armitage’s work while I was at the Times (you can read what I wrote about him there) and still do now. You can also read the Telegraph story (go here to read it) about the “dull old farts” who selected Armitage instead of presumptive winner Wole Soyinka.
If you like either of the RRs, treat yourself to Armitage’s Arthur translation.
So glad, so happy about this news.