Honorary Doctorate - 2009
West Yorkshire born-and-bred, Simon Armitage is one of the country's best known and most popular poets and the youngest to have his work included in the National Curriculum. Simon writes about ordinary subjects in a way that makes us see them afresh. He can arouse deep feelings of sympathy through simple language and an unemotional Yorkshire approach.
Two themes recur throughout Simon's work - Greek myth and social conscience. A particularly moving example about the latter is the poem About His Person, which describes the life of a man found dead, simply by listing the contents of his pockets.
Although Simon began to write at the age of 14, he didn't consider it as a career path and after studying for his MA he went into the probation service. His first collection of poems, Zoom!, was published in 1989, and was a Poetry Society Book Choice. In 1994, after seven years as probation officer and poet, Simon decided the time had come to choose writing as his career.
At the latest count Simon has written 11 volumes of poetry, four stage plays, over a dozen TV films, two novels, two memoirs, numerous songs, and an opera libretto. His many awards include BAFTA and TV documentary prizes, for both his writing and his portrayal of social injustices and mental health issues. He also won the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award whilst still working as a probation officer. He has served as a judge on many award committees, including the Man Booker prize.