Simon Armitage visits GHS

On Wednesday 9 January, Guildford High School was fortunate enough to be visited by renowned poet, author, playwright and lecturer, Simon Armitage. During an hour-long workshop with a handful of students across all years of the school, he encouraged our creativity with some interesting warm up activities, asking us to consider the importance of both ‘boring’ and ‘interesting’ words. Once fully engaged, he inspired us to create a piece of writing about a place that was significant to us, using descriptive prompts to ensure that we never stopped writing. Each student emerged from this workshop with a poetic creation to treasure and perhaps edit and consider further; an invaluable tool in a young writer’s belt. 

After this, Simon approached the whole school in a magnificent talk on his poetry. He read us pieces on pivotal moments in his life, such as when he first moved house and began to feel more than ever a tangible distance between him and his parents, beautifully metaphorically articulated through a tape measure held between him and his mother. He shared stories of his upbringing, which had inspired his work, taking a philosophical view and analysing the human condition in poems such as Zodiac T-Shirt, yet also offering an exquisitely specific detail of his life, in the more focussed I Kicked A Mushroom. He insightfully answered audience questions on how much a poet considers the minutia of their work, and how poetry can turn from a hobby into a profession. It was incredible to hear from someone so admired in their field first-hand, made all the more enjoyable by his dry wit and amusing anecdotal delivery. It was a great privilege, which I hope he enjoyed as much as we did!

Elena, Sixth Form student