Simon Armitage takes Off the Shelf on a new journey
The University’s Professor of Poetry, Simon Armitage, will join poets, writers, broadcasters, comedians and artists to entertain and inspire audiences as part of Off the Shelf, Sheffield’s festival of words (8-29 October 2011).
Simon will become the first guest curator in the festival’s 20 year history and will run a strand of the programme on the theme of journeys.
Simon commented: “Part of my ambition as Professor of Poetry is to develop and strengthen literary links between the University and the city, and working with Off the Shelf is a perfect opportunity. I've been connected with the festival for several years now, from its modest beginnings to the major event that it has become, so was delighted to be asked to guest curate a strand of the programming.
“I'd just walked the Pennine Way at the time when they asked me, so journeys were high in my mind, and when I started to think about some of my favourite writers and current favourite books, I noticed a theme developing. We live in a time when it's all too easy to sit in front of the telly and experience the world from the settee, and the events I've programmed are all about getting out there - either to the South Pole or to the end of the street - and turning travel into art.”
Lesley Webster, one of the organisers of the festival, said: "This is the first time we have had a strand of the festival programme chosen by a guest curator and we are delighted that Simon Armitage took on the task.
“Simon's events are on the theme of journeys and will take audiences everywhere from the South Pole in 1912 with the Lost Photographs of Captain Scott, to the overlooked fringe between the rural and urban with Edgelands, and then on a mystery walk in Sheffield which will recreate a walk taken in Hollywood by US based author Geoff Nicholson. We are really grateful for the support that Simon and the University have given to the festival."
Other Off the Shelf highlights include a midnight poetry reading from Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, a talk from the team behind Oscar winning film The King’s Speech (with a special showing of the film in the Students’ Union Auditorium), plus renowned modern historian Professor Sir Ian Kershaw will be giving a talk on his latest acclaimed work THE END: Hitler’s Germany 1944-45.
There will also be a celebration of 25 years of Sheffield based poetry arts organisation Poetry Business with readings from popular poets Ian McMillan, Paul Bentley and Jonathan Davidson. A session on Sheffield poems will also be led by Dr Agnes Lehoczky from our Department of English Literature and Sheffield poet Helen Mort.
Head-Lines, a Sheffield based writing group whose members have experienced coma and/or brain injury, will launch an anthology that showcases their work with readings and discussions in the Jessop West exhibition space.
Jon Ronson is a documentary film maker and writer of bestselling books The Psychopath Test, and The Men Who Stare at Goats, (recently made into a film starring George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges). In a session at the University’s Students’ Union, he will recount the unbelievable adventure behind the making of The Psychopath Test.
Mike Braddick, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Arts and Humanities at the University, said: “We’re immensely proud to have our Professor of Poetry, Simon Armitage, as Off the Shelf’s first ever guest curator. The festival’s programme is particularly impressive this year and we’re delighted to be involved in such high profile events.”