The eleventh single volume of poetry from the Poet Laureate
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‘The most popular English poet since Larkin.’ Sunday Times
After more than a decade and following his celebrated adventures in drama, translation, travel writing and prose poetry, Simon Armitage’s eleventh collection of poems heralds a return to his trademark contemporary lyricism. The pieces in this multi-textured and moving volume are set against a backdrop of economic recession and social division, where mass media, the mass market and globalisation have made alienation a commonplace experience and where the solitary imagination drifts and conjures.
The Unaccompanied documents a world on the brink, a world of unreliable seasons and unstable coordinates, where Odysseus stalks the aisles of cut-price supermarkets in search of direction, where the star of Bethlehem rises over industrial Yorkshire, and where alarm bells for ailing communities go unheeded or unheard. Looking for certainty the mind gravitates to recollections of upbringing and family, only to encounter more unrecoverable worlds, shaped as ever through Armitage’s gifts for clarity and detail as well as his characteristic dead-pan wit. Insightful, relevant and empathetic, these poems confirm The Unaccompanied as a bold new statement of intent by one of our most respected and recognised living poets.
‘A writer who has had a game-changing influence on his contemporaries.’ Guardian
‘Armitage is that rare beast: a poet whose work is ambitious, accomplished and complex as well as popular.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘The best poet of his generation.’ Craig Raine, Observer
‘[Reminds] the reader on every page just what a memorable contemporary voice he is.’
‘There’s a romantic sensibility to it, combined with the earthiness of Armitage’s native Yorkshire and a powerful sense of the past.’
‘Armitage has an inimitable voice – punchy, conversational and bold in its use of slang and cliche. In The Unaccompanied that swagger has been toned down, and the depths beneath his “simple language” are more apparent than ever. It’s not simple but distilled, as clear and sharp as rainwater.'
‘The collection marks a return to the conversational lyricism that is [Armitage’s] forte. As a poet, he manages to have it both ways – he is the man in the street (or man on the moor) and the possessor of sometimes rarefied language he makes his own.’
‘This collection articulates a new anger that is more personal, a lament for individual mortality, the sadness of time moving on too far and too fast. Armitage’s fluid poetics are pitch-perfect and his imagery remains incisive … [A] mature, engaging and empathetic work.’
The Yorkshire-born poet’s quotidian observations, witty tone and accessible style belie some searing analysis of 21st-century life in the UK. Armitage has a gift for blending biting satire with warm affection for his subjects. Essential reading for those who need to lift their eyes north of London.
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