Simon Armitage: The Queen’s Choice
Simon Armitage, born on May 26, 1963 in Yorkshire , England is the wise poet of the present who was chosen by Queen Elizabeth to replace the famed poetess Dame Carol Ann Duffy as Great Britain’s current Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom.
A poet laureate is a person who is selected by a head of state to write official poems to commemorate special patriotic occasions of the state and to mark important historical happenings. It is a paid position and Armitage is slated to serve a term of ten years,
The tradition of choosing a special poet to represent the country of Great Britain began when King James I in 1616 granted a pension to Ben Jonson, an important writer of the day, But it was John Dyden who was chosen to be the first official poet laureate of England by Charles II in 1668.
Armitage wrote his first poem in grammar school but after graduating from high school he went on to study geography in college and then went on to earn a Master’s degree in social work at Vistoria college and obtained a position as a probation officer which gave him much practical experience in the ways of human nature and real life problems. It was during his work as a probation officer that he began to pursue the art of writing poetry earnestly and his first volume of poetry entitled Zoom was accepted favorably by the critics. And Armitage is known for his creative use plain ordinary language that is “accessible” to the readers. And one of the first poems he was commissioned to write was a poem to commemorate 9/11 entitled“Out of the Blue” which is pretty much a plain realistic snapshot of one man’s lazst hopeless minute in life as he jumps from a window in the burning building.
You have picked me out.
Through a distant shot of a building burning
you have noticed now
that a white cotton shirt is twirling, turning.
In fact I am waving, waving.
Small in the clouds, but waving, waving.
Does anyone see
a soul worth saving?
So when will you come?
Do you think you are watching, watching
a man shaking crumbs
or pegging out washing?
I am trying and trying.
The heat behind me is bullying, driving,
but the white of surrender is not yet flying.
I am not at the point of leaving, diving.
A bird goes by.
The depth is appalling. Appalling
that others like me
should be wind-milling, wheeling, spiralling, falling.
Are your eyes believing,
that here in the gills
I am still breathing.
But tiring, tiring.
Sirens below are wailing, firing.
My arm is numb and my nerves are sagging.
Do you see me, my love. I am failing, flagging
The victim here first addresses the witnesses of the terrible thing is unfolding here to please notice him struggling to survive as hope for rescue flickers a little in his heart when he hears the blaring of the on coming sirens of the ambulances, But as he feels the heat of the blazing building he comes to realize that he must jump and addresses someone special to him as he falls, perhaps his wife, to see and also accept his death,
Armitage was also commissioned to write in order to commemorate the important historical events of VE day and the rise of the Khmer Rouge. He is also a playwright and a novelist. He has a most important job.