One Minute With: Simon Armitage

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The Independent Culture

Where are you now and what can you see?

I'm in my office and I can see trees.

What are you currently reading?

I'm chairing the TS Eliot Poetry Prize so I'm reading pretty much every poetry book published in the UK this year, though not simultaneously, although it feels like it at times.

Choose a favourite author, and say why you like her/him

At the moment, it is an anonymous author of a poem called Alliterative Morte Arthure, which I'm translating from Middle English. I have begun to sense something of the author within the lines, a sense of humour and purpose.

What distracts you from writing?

Music and emails.

Describe the room where you usually write

It's a square, light yellow room above the garage. I would say it's a den.

Which fictional character most resembles you?

I'm probably Spiderman. I live an everyday, commonplace life until duty calls. Then I slip into my superhero costume and go out there righting the wrongs of the world with these delicate webs spun from my hand.

What are your readers like when you meet them?

I meet my readers all the time. It's very noticeable that they are a very broad spectrum.

Who is your hero/heroine from outside literature?

He's dead now and I don't suppose I would have wanted him round for dinner, but I have a sneaking respect for (the fellwalker) Alfred Wainwright. He went stumbling around the hills of Britain in a car coat and with no compass, and insisted on his handwriting rather than printed text.

Simon Armitage has been commissioned to write a poem to celebrate the Poetry Society's centenary on National Poetry Day on Thursday 8 October