New Cemetery


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“Is it fair to say

it is still morning?”

The building of a new cemetery “above Berry Brow” provides Simon Armitage with fertile ground for pondering the many serious and sometimes lighthearted quotidian happenings between life and death and almost beyond as he goes about his daily work, as poet, in his shed “of four bare walls /a small door, /a single window pane.” Within this humble space and between the time of the “peeling back turf” by the first bulldozers to the laying to rest of the departed, Armitage pens an inimitable poetic discourse to the reader, the planet, November and the Universe.

A colloquial cadence flows through the spare verse conveying warmth and wry humour. Armitage brings one close, takes seriously the weight and wonder of words, gives generously of his time and kindly concern. Even “if there’s nothing to say:/this poem, born of itself,/for its own sake” is offered. And while he assures us that writing poetry is more “labour and toil” than repairing a storm scalped roof, the result is a work of such masterful engagement and contemporary relevance that even those with an aversion towards poetry would find themselves taken in, intently listening.



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