Armitage was a starter-for-ten in the 2006 Final of University Challenge.
Paxman: "Which poet, born in Huddersfield in 1963 has published Zoom!, Xanadu..."
Manchester: "Simon Armitage."
Paxman: "Correct. In fact he was a student at Manchester University..."
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 Probation Officer in Greater Manchester.
His first collection of poems, Zoom!, was published in 1989 by Bloodaxe Books. Further collections are Xanadu (1992, Bloodaxe Books), Kid (1992, Faber & Faber), Book of Matches (1993, Faber & Faber), The Dead Sea Poems (1995, Faber & Faber), CloudCuckooLand (1997 Faber and Faber), Killing Time (1999 Faber & Faber), Selected Poems (2001, Faber & Faber), Travelling Songs (2002, Faber & Faber), The Universal Home Doctor (2002, Faber & Faber) and Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid (2006, Faber & Faber). He has received numerous awards for his poetry including the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year, one of the first Forward Prizes and a Lannan Award.
Zoom! was a Poetry Society Book Choice. Kid was short-listed for the Whitbread Poetry Prize. The Dead Sea Poems was short-listed for the Whitbread Poetry Prize, the Forward Prize and the T.S Eliot Prize. CloudCuckooLand was short-listed for the Whitbread Poetry Prize. The Universal Home Doctor was short-listed for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
He writes for radio, television and film, and is the author of four stage plays, including Mister Heracles, a version of the Euripides play The Madness of Heracles, and Jerusalem, commissioned by West Yorkshire Playhouse. His recent dramatisation of The Odyssey, commissioned by the BBC, was broadcast on Radio 4 in 2004 and released on CD through BBC Worldwide. It received the Gold Award at the 2005 Spoken Word Awards. The book, Homer’s Odyssey – A Retelling, is published by Faber and Faber (2006) in the UK and by Norton in the US. For over ten years he has been a regular guest of The Mark Radcliffe Show, first on BBC Radio 1 and more recently on BBC Radio 2. His many contributions to BBC Radio 4 include his co-hosting of Armitage and Moore’s Guide to Popular Song and as a reviewer for the weekly arts programme Front Row.
Simon Armitage has written for over a dozen television films, and with director Brian Hill pioneered the docu-musical format which lead to such cult films as Drinking for England and Song Birds.Song Birds was screened at the Sun Dance Film Festival in 2006. He received an Ivor Novello Award for his song-lyrics in the Channel 4 film Feltham Sings, which also won a BAFTA. He wrote the libretto for the opera The Assassin Tree, composed by Stuart McRae, which premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival in 2006.
His first novel, Little Green Man, was published by Penguin in 2001. His second novel, The White Stuff was published in 2004. His other prose work includes the best-selling memoir All Points North, (Penguin 1998) which was the Yorkshire Post Book of the Year.
Simon Armitage has taught at the University of Leeds and the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, and is currently a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. With Robert Crawford he edited The Penguin Anthology of Poetry from Britain and Ireland Since 1945. Other anthologies include Short and Sweet – 101 Very Short Poems, and a selection of Ted Hughes’ poetry, both published by Faber & Faber.
The Shout, a book of new and selected poems was published in the US in April 2005 by Harcourt. It was short-listed for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award. His translation of the middle English classic poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, was commissioned by Faber & Faber in the UK and Norton in the US and published in 2007.
He has served as a judge for the Forward Prize, the T.S Eliot Prize, the Whitbread Prize, the Griffin Prize, and in 2006 was a judge for the Man Booker Prize.