Latitude 2009

Countdown To Latitude: Simon Armitage

Michael Bonner

If there’s anyone appearing on the Latitude bill this year who might legitimately be able to claim that poetry is the new rock’n’roll, then step forward Huddersfield’s finest, Simon Armitage.

Anyone who’s read his brilliant memoir, Gig, will remember his often hilarious observations on life as a card-carrying Eighties’ indie fan, from The Wedding Present to The Smiths and beyond. His own, intermittent attempts to kick-start a music career resulted, finally, in launching his teenage fantasy band, The Scaremongers.

Hopefully, during his performance in the Literary Arena, Armitage will regale us with some of his shrewd, witty observations on Dylan, Morrissey and – ahem – David Gedge, as well as some of his magnificent poetry. His recently published, earthy translation of Sir Gawain & The Green Knight is recommended, as is his own wry, amiable observational poetry, located somewhere between Morrissey and Alan Bennett.


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As Robert Gordon reminds us in Respect Yourself: Stax Records And The Soul Explosion, his terrific account of the rise and fall of the great Memphis soul imprint, the Stax story is more than a record-label history. “It is an American story,” Gordon writes,”...