Over a week in each spring for the next decade, Simon Armitage will give readings in libraries across the UK. Using the alphabet as a guide, his Laureate’s Library Tour will involve local communities, poets and students at each stop on the journey, and will celebrate the library as one of our great and necessary institutions.
Armitage says: ‘My experience of reading and writing began in the village library where I grew up, then in the nearby town library, then in libraries at various places of study and teaching. The very existence of the library system is under threat, but libraries still stand at the heart of many communities and for some people are an invaluable aspect of everyday life, giving access not just to books but to services, learning, conversation and creative thinking. I want to pay my respects to these unique institutions. By planning readings up to a decade in advance I’m being optimistic about the future of our libraries, and challenging those authorities who would consider closing them down.’
The tour will welcome invitations from libraries in cities or rural communities, from public libraries or any other kind of library in the UK willing to throw open its doors to the public for the occasion, including private or independent libraries, mobile libraries or those in schools, universities, prisons or hospitals. It is supported by the T. S. Eliot Estate, who are kindly funding the tour for the full ten years, and his long-time publishers Faber & Faber.
Along the way, Armitage will donate copies of a new collection, Magnetic Field, to be published for the beginning of the tour, which gathers together his poems on Marsden, the village where he grew up and began life as a writer.
Beginning with the letters ‘A’ and ‘B’ in spring 2020, Armitage will use the alphabet as the framework for the tour: