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on 18 June 2004
I became interested in Simon Armitage via the Tom McRae album, Just like Blood, so when I searched for a volume of Simon Armitage poetry this is what I found. I have discovered my favourite poet here. I love many of the poems but my favourites are from Book of Matches and The Dead Sea Poems, both of which I now have firmly rooted in my growing poetry collection.
I Say I Say I Say from The Dead Sea Poems is my absolute favourite, no doubt about it. This volume is fantastic for anyone who is curious about Simon Armitage, trust me, it will not be a disappointment when it arrives through the letter box.
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on 3 May 2015
I had an appointment with a consultant at my local hospital on the day this book arrived, and I took it with me. The consultant was running an hour late and this little volume of Simon Armitage kept me absorbed. Some of his work is very funny, so every once in a while I was the only one laughing out loud in the waiting room. Highly recommended. If only I had had my wits about me I could have given them a recital.
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on 20 June 2013
I read this while 'doing' Poetry for OU A215 Creative Writing, a course which I had taken to improve my prose writing skills. So, poetry was a bit of a departure, and we were being asked to look more at contemporary poetry styles rather than villanelles etc. I felt uncomfortable. This collection was great as the voice is so fresh, and the poet (one feels like referring to him as 'Simon' after reading the book) makes the reader feel so comfortable in the writing.
And then as you look closer, you discover all the word magic - rhythm, sound patterns, imagery - that goes into poetry.
I got a decent mark for my Poetry assignment, so it must have done something!!
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Simon Armitage used to be a social worker, now he's a world class poet. A `kid' from Huddersfield who manages in these poems to create a kind of magic, an effortless-seeming cornucopia of words that both thrill and caution, cauterise and twist in the gut. He has his magical gifts wrapped up with newspaper and barbed wire, his images are street-level, sarky, litanies of lives and living. Poems angry and uncouth, like their subjects, or down in the political morass - take this for instance, a verse from 'Lines Thought to Have Been Written on the Eve of the Execution of a Warrant for His Arrest':

Down Birdcage Walk in riots or wartime
we will not hear of her hitching her skirt
or see for ourselves that frantic footwork,
busy like a swan's beneath the surface.
But quickly our tank will stop in its tracks;
they'll turn the turret lid back like a stone;
inside, our faces set like flint, her name
cross-threaded in the barrels of our throats.

No guess needed as to whom that refers.

'To His Lost Lover' may be the best poem ever about a love affair that wasn't, and 'A Week And A Fortnight' is like a glimpse into uncovered lives only ever read about in shocking headlines. There is a certain slickness, something of a flash, urgent, disregard to some of this work. Perhaps evidence of the craft that goes into poetry-making is missing? If so, it's as it should be. Something especially in the internal rhythms, the beautiful power of the enjambments. Though I feel this is only because it reads effortlessly, and is so blindingly apposite. These lines below from 'A Book of Matches' are haunting:

Tonight I'm blank, burnt out, parked
in the garage with the engine running, in the dark.
The ones who know me hold me at arm's length,
the others want to see me dead.

Not yet.
I tear the last match from the book,
fetch it hard and once
across the windscreen. In the glass

I'm taken with myself, caught in the act -
conducting light, until the heat licks
up against my thumb and fingertips, unlocks
my hand, gives me a start, trips

something in the flashbulb of my heart.
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VINE VOICEon 17 February 2009
Simon Armatige is a brilliant modern day poet. his poems are relevant and stike a cord in all who read them.
well worth a read as its a good mix of his work
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on 13 January 2014
Wonderful selection of poems. Bought for my husband as he has read a few of Simons books before so this was a slightly different slant.
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on 19 January 2014
Wonderful little collection and brings back memories of GCSE English lit! Lovely read for all, very in depth and thought provoking.
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on 3 November 2013
This was a present to my wife. From her comments I think that she has enjoyed the collection together with the associated volumes.
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on 25 April 2013
Recent convert to Simon's poems ... find some of them difficult to understand but a really good selection in this book.
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on 14 March 2014
I had to teach his poetry to GCSE pupils and liked his work. Some of his pottery falls short of his best standard. But he is interesting and easy to understand. Unlike Duffy his work is pleasant and has no nasty undertones.
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