Poet Simon Armitage, whose work spans sharp observations about modern life and classical myths, is to be the UK's next Poet Laureate.
The West Yorkshire writer will hold the post for the next decade, taking over from Dame Carol Ann Duffy.
The office of laureate – Britain’s highest literary honour – has its roots in the 17th century, when Ben Jonson was granted a pension by King James I for his services to the crown. Armitage will take home £5,750 a year, along with the traditional 600 bottles of sherry.
Armitage said he had no hesitation whatsoever about taking on the role. “It’s a big commitment, but if you’d asked me 30 years ago what I want to aim for, this might have been on the list,” he said. “And I feel I’ve been writing the kind of public-facing, public-occasion poetry that this role will require for quite a long time now.”
He hopes to use the position to “act in an ambassadorial way, as a kind of negotiator between what inevitably is something of a specialist art form, and the people who want to read it and respond on occasions with poetry”. He will also use his stipend to set up “something in the field of climate change” – either a prize or an event. “It just seems to me that it’s the obligation of all of us and every art form to be responding to this issue,” he said. “It shades into all our politics, so I want to find a way of recording and encouraging poetry’s response to that situation.”
Simon was the curator of our Poetry Parnassus festival in 2012, overseeing a week long festival which included a poet from every Olympic-competing country. During that time Simon helped us to complete The World Record, which included a hand-written poem from each of the poets, including Seamus Heaney and Wole Soyinka.