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Award-winning poet sets off on unusual walk from Minehead
SIMON Armitage performs some of his work to poetry lovers at West Somerset College's Combe Restaurant.
A GENTLY lilting voice spoken in a comforting northern accent kept more than 50 people enthralled at a special evening in Minehead.
The voice belonged to award-winning poet Simon Armitage, and mesmerised the audience at West Somerset College’s Combe Restaurant, the night before he embarked on an incredible journey.
He is walking the northern section of the South West Coast Path to Land’s End without a penny in his pocket, relying purely on donations from nightly poetry readings and offers of a place to rest his head at each day’s destination.
Simon is no stranger to this kind of challenge – in 2010 he walked along the Pennine Way towards the Yorkshire village of Marsden where he was born and subsequently wrote the non-fiction book Walking Home.
Poetry lovers from across West Somerset gathered to enjoy his first night’s reading, where he performed poems such as The Tyre, Beach Wedding and Kid just hours before setting off from the iconic map statue on Minehead’s seafront.
Simon said: “When I finished the Pennine Way I said I wouldn't do it again, but eventually curiosity got the better of me and I decided that I still had one long walk left in me.
“I chose to do a walk away from home this time, and tried to find a vector and direction that would take me continually away from Yorkshire, which this section of the South West Coast Path does.
“There’s an element of testing my reputation as a poet and testing poetry’s reputation, to see whether people consider this a good night out.
“The mischief-maker in me wonders if I am also testing the generosity of the people in the north with people in the south.”
Simon plans to make recordings on his phone as he walks and to work from those to create poetry written in response to the walk.
He added: “I have already written several pages – I was staying at Butlin’s, so there was no shortage of material there.”
During the evening Simon invited questions and discussion, which covered topics as diverse as his work on the 9/11 tragedy, Out of the Blue, and what to expect when he reached Countisbury Hill on the walk.
Jean Page from the U3A Poetry Group based in Minehead said: “We loved it. Recently we read some of his poems and some are so funny.
“But what was touching today was the basic seriousness of the poems he selected.”
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