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Simon Armitage CBE: Peoples' Poet Who Pens For Paul Weller & Madeleine McCann

Thursday 13 January 2011   by: Mike Cobley

It's amazing how many people I know hadn't heard of Simon Armitage until he took time out of his busy schedule to provide The Missing Dream, a short story that graced the sleeve booklet of Paul Weller's critically and commercially acclaimed, 22 Dreams.

Armitage, who was last year honoured with a CBE for his services to poetry, had previously praised Weller's song, Thick as Thieves (Setting Sons), for its "terrific standard of writing", adding that it captured the fact "that you have to leave your past behind if you want to learn and develop and grow as a person."

He also recently penned The Beacon, in honour of the Madeleine McCann Campaign.

Armitage said the poem drew on the imagery of the photograph of Madeleine in missing posters around the world as well as the candle her parents keep burning in a lantern in their local village square.

The poet reportedly said he accepted the commission, which came via Emma Loach, a director who worked with the McCanns on a television documentary.

Mrs Loach is a friend of Mr Armitage, after he met the McCanns at their home in Rothley, Leicestershire.

"We talked about the night Madeleine went missing, those terrible hours of darkness before they could resume the search," he said.

The McCanns said of the poem: "We think it is an incredible and really beautiful sonnet.

"It manages to convey so accurately and succinctly both our darker moments and the reality of hope and possibility, as well as including powerful and touching references to Madeleine."

The Beacon:

Dusk, doubt, the growing depth of an evening sky,
dark setting in as it did that night,
the forever vastness of outer space
reflecting the emptiness here inside,
shadowing, colouring, clouding the mind.

But somewhere out there there has to be life,
the distance only a matter of time,
a world like our own, its markings and shades
as uniquely formed as a daughter"s eye,
distinctly flecked, undeniably hers,
looking back this way through the miles and years

to a lantern cupping a golden blaze,
its candle alive with a fierce blonde flame
for the thousandth time, for as long as it takes.

Armitage has received numerous awards for his poetry including the Sunday Times Author of the Year, one of the first Forward Prizes and a Lannan Award.

He writes for radio, television and film, and is the author of four stage plays, including Mister Heracles, a version of the Euripides play The Madness of Heracles.

He received an Ivor Novello Award for his song-lyrics in the Channel 4 film Feltham Sings, which also won a BAFTA.

Armitage joins Gillian Clarke, Carol Ann Duffy, John Agard, Imtiaz Dharker, Grace Nichols and Owen Sheers at Brighton Dome on Tuesday 1st February for GCSE Poetry Live .. a rare opportunity for students to see and hear live performances from some of the UK's leading poets.

For more information visit

by: Mike Cobley


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