Verb Wellington and British Council New Zealand and the Pacific have collaborated to bring UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage to Wellington on 11 – 12 March to take part in two events that focus on the importance of libraries and of literature.
Natasha Beckman (Country Director, British Council New Zealand and the Pacific) says, “We are delighted to have this opportunity to bring one of Britain’s most acclaimed writers to Aotearoa. His work is deeply involved in concerns about our environment, the climate crisis, and our relationship to the natural world. We know that many of our writers are communicating those same concerns through their work and we are thrilled to be able to bring Simon together with our writers, and audiences, to shed light on how literature can be political in this day and age.”
Simon Armitage is the current UK Poet Laureate (2019 – 2029). He has received numerous awards for his poetry including the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year, one of the first Forward Prizes, an Eric Gregory Award, a major Lannan Award, a Cholmondeley Award, the Spoken Word Award (Gold), the Ivor Novello Award for song-writing, BBC Radio Best Speech Programme, Television Society Award for Documentary and Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry. He won the 2017 PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation and was awarded the 2018 Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.
Armitage is also the founder of the Laurel Prize, and award for best nature and environmental writing, of which two Aotearoa poets have been placed in: Ash Davida Jane won second prize for her collection How to Live with Mammals (2021) and Rebecca Hawkes won best international first collection for her collection Meat Lovers (2022).
While in Wellington, Simon Armitage will speak at the National Library of New Zealand with Aotearoa Poet Laureate Chris Tse in an event called “Does Literature Matter?”
The poets will share experiences of what writing, reading and books have meant for them in their lives and careers, and how they see their work as Laureates in today’s world. Chris Tse is the 13th New Zealand Poet Laureate, and author of award-winning collections How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes, HE’S SO MASC, and Super Model Minority.
Armitage will then headline a Poetry showcase event called “The Nature of Poetry” which will bring together poets such as Rebecca Hawkes, Harry Ricketts, Chris Tse, and more to read poetry on the themes of nature, the environment, and the climate crisis.