AS Remembrance Sunday approaches a new collection of poems is being released by Huddersfield’s Simon Armitage.
The work focusses on the words of veterans from the Gulf, Bosnia and Malayan wars.
The poems were first heard on a Channel 4 documentary film entitled The Not Dead.
And that is the poignant name that is used on this new collection of work, published by Pomona Books and giving voice to ex-soldiers whose stories are rarely heard.
“Never having been to the front line, turning the words, phrases and experiences of these soldiers into verse has been the closest I’ve ever come to writing ‘real’ war poetry, and as close as I ever want to get,” said Simon.
The documentary The Not Dead, which was shown in the summer of last year, received excellent reviews and moving responses on the web from other veterans.
Simon added: “I wasn’t present when the three men read the poems to camera, but it can’t have been easy for them.
In my view it was a supreme act of bravery.”
It was one which spoke to many.
Veteran broadcaster Joan Bakewell said: “The Not Dead is uniquely impressive. In transmuting the stories of particular soldiers into the lyrical music of Simon Armitage’s poems, something exceptional is achieved: the painful truth of lives damaged beyond help is made meaningful for the rest of us.
“We can only catch our breath and read them again and again.”
The poems focus on the testimonies of veterans of the Gulf, Bosnia and Malayan wars – ex-soldiers who have seldom been heard before.
There are three official launches of the book, which includes an introduction from Simon and reviews of the film. Simon will be at The Showroom in Paternoster Row, Sheffield on November 11, Armistice Day, at 7pm (tickets on 0114 275 7727), the Purcell Room in London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on November 12 (7.45pm: tickets on 0871 663 2586) and at the Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester Metropolitan University, on November 13 at 6.30pm
Publishers Faber meanwhile have announced that they have secured the UK and Commonwealth rights to Simon’s next two publications, both due out in 2011.
One will be a translation of The Death Of Arthur, the extended poem based on medieval stories about the final years of King Arthur.
It is a logical follow-on from Simon’s acclaimed translation of Sir Gawain And The Green Knight.
Faber will also publish an as yet untitled non-fiction book by Simon which will trace his account of a 250-mile walk along the Pennine Way.
At this stage it is described as “part guide, part travelogue, part memoir”.
The Not Dead is published by Pomona Books. (ISBN: 978-1-904-59018-7)