Poet’s nostalgia for Portsmouth - the city that inspired his work

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ONE of Britain’s most well known poets – and former University of Portsmouth student – Simon Armitage returned to the city to give a special reading.

The 50-year-old studied geography at the university when it was a polytechnic. He was appointed CBE for his services to poetry in 2010.

Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage

Simon told The News: ‘I followed my heart as much as my head when I came down here. It was a bit of an odd move for me because I am from Yorkshire so it was a long trek but I had a really good three years. Writing and reading was always a secret passion.

‘I certainly wrote quite a few poems about the city and my experience of being here. I think it helped me to be on my own, a little bit. It concentrates the mind when you are so far away from everything you know and understand, and I think I was a more resilient person when I left here.

‘I have been back a few times. I used to give a GCSE reading here most years in the Guildhall, which was weird because that is where I went for my degree ceremony, and the university gave me a honorary doctorate maybe 15 years ago, so I was here then. But I certainly haven’t ventured into Southsea where I used to live.’

The event was put together to celebrate recent publications by members of the university’s Centre for Studies in Literature.

Dr Páraic Finnerty, from the School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies, said he was delighted to welcome the famous poet back to the university.

He said: ‘Simon Armitage’s poetry reading is very significant because it is a reminder to our staff and students that their university fostered, shaped and influenced one of the most successful and respected contemporary British poets, who has an international reputation for literary excellence.

‘Not only is Simon one of Britain’s most admired contemporary poets, he is also a wonderful reader of poetry who has a reputation for making his poetry come alive.

‘His poems are incredibly funny, but they are also very insightful.