Simon Armitage was born in 1963 in the village of Marsden and lives in West Yorkshire. He is a graduate of Portsmouth University, where he studied Geography. As a post-graduate student at Manchester University, his MA thesis concerned the effects of television violence on young offenders. Until 1994 he worked as a Probation Officer in Greater Manchester.
Simon Armitage is Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds and was elected to serve as Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford for 2015-2019. This Spring he is also a Visiting Professor at Princeton University.
Previously, he taught at the University of Leeds, the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop and Manchester Metropolitan University before his 2011 appointment as Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield and Visiting Professor at the University of Falmouth.
Armitage has received numerous awards for his poetry including the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year, one of the first Forward Prizes, an Eric Gregory Award, a major Lannan Award, a Cholmondeley Award, the Spoken Word Award (Gold), the Ivor Novello Award for song-writing, BBC Radio Best Speech Programme, Television Society Award for Documentary and Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry. He won the 2017 PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation and was awarded The Queens Gold Medal for Poetry 2018.
In 1999 Armitage was named the Millennium Poet. In 2004 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Armitage was awarded the CBE for services to poetry in 2010 and presented with the Hay Medal for Poetry at the 25th Hay Festival in 2012.
As part of Britain’s 2012 Cultural Olympiad and while Artist in Residence at London’s Southbank, Armitage conceived and curated Poetry Parnassus, a gathering of world poets and poetry from every Olympic nation. This landmark event is generally recognised to be the biggest coming together of international poets in history.
Photo by Peter James Millson