The ninth talk in the Professor Glyn Turton Lecture series, organized by the Department of English, University of Chester, was delivered by one of Britain’s most distinguished writers, Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at Oxford University and the University of Sheffield.
In a wide-ranging, thought-provoking, and thoroughly engaging lecture titled ‘Putting Poetry in its Place’, Armitage considered the importance and pleasure of specific settings (sometimes named places) in poems by canonical and aspiring writers. He drew on his reading of various British and Irish poets, and his experience of workshopping students’ writing. Poets (and poems) discussed included Ted Hughes (‘Full Moon and Little Frieda’), Seamus Hughes (‘A Constable Calls’), James Fenton (‘Tiananmen’), Paul Muldoon (‘Duffy’s Circus’), Edward Thomas (‘Adlestrop’), and Douglas Dunn (‘On Roofs of Terry Street’).
Armitage concluded with Thom Gunn’s ‘Epitaph for Anton Schmidt’, which ends:
I see him in the Polish snow,
His muddy wrappings small protection,
Breathing the cold air of his freedom
And treading a distinct direction.
The lecture trod its own ‘distinct direction’, based on Armitage’s belief in the significance of place in poetry and the place poetry can have in our lives.
After the lecture, Armitage signed copies of his books, including his latest, a translation of the Middle English poem Pearl.
Armitage was introduced by Professor Turton, in whose honour the lecture series was founded in 2010. For information about the series, go to: