13 episodes

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage talks to guests about life, language and music in his shed.

The Poet Laureate Has Gone to His Shed BBC

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 61 Ratings

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage talks to guests about life, language and music in his shed.

    Simon Armitage

    Simon Armitage

    The Poet Laureate has gone to his shed on his own this week. Simon Armitage can't ask any guests to join him in his writing shed in West Yorkshire due to the Coronavirus. So he sits in the moonlight hoping to catch an owl in the garden to inspire his writing, and to think about the world beyond as he approaches the end of his translation of the medieval poem The Owl and the Nightingale.

    It's a beautifully still night. Poetry, contemplation, storytelling - with a few jokes along the way - and a few musical instruments to charm the owls out of the trees.

    • 44 min
    Chris Packham

    Chris Packham

    If the poets of the past sat in their garrets dipping their quills in ink and waiting for inspiration to strike, our current Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has a more mundane and domestic arrangement, scratching away at a poem in the shed. As he works on The Owl and the Nightingale, any distraction is welcome, even encouraged, to talk about poetry, music, art, sheds, sherry, owls, nightingales and to throw light on some of the poem's internal themes. However, Lockdown has meant he has had to reach out to technology to find those interruptions.

    Wanting to know more about the owl in the poem, Simon talks to naturalist Chris Packham, isolating in his home in the New Forest. Their conversation ranges from ornithology to Asperger syndrome, from Punk music to owl pellets and from the environment to the ability to fly.

    The Poet Laureate has gone to his Shed is produced by Susan Roberts

    • 51 min
    Laura Ashe

    Laura Ashe

    Professor Laura Ashe is a historian of English medieval literature, history and culture . She lectures in English at Oxford University. At this point in his translation of the poem The Owl and the Nightingale, Simon Armitage invites Laura to help him with some of the final details . From the toilet habits of the nightingale to the Game of Thrones atmosphere of the period, from the hippy ideals of the nightingale to the tut-tutting of the buttoned up owl.

    • 52 min
    Jackie Kay

    Jackie Kay

    If the poets of the past sat in their garrets dipping their quills in ink and waiting for inspiration to strike, our current Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has a more mundane and domestic arrangement. From his wooden shed in the garden, surrounded on all sides by the Pennine Hills and the Pennine weather, he scratches away at his reworking of the comic medieval poem The Owl and the Nightingale.

    Any distraction is welcome, even encouraged, to talk about poetry, music, art, sheds, sherry, owls, nightingales and to throw light on some of the poem's internal themes. Jackie Kay, who first shared a stage with Simon 30 years ago on the New Generation poetry tour reminisces about those first readings as well a sharing their current experiences of holding the highest positions in poetry - Jackie as the Scottish Makar and Simon as the Poet Laureate. The conversation ranges far and wide as these two friends look back on their writing lives.

    • 1 hr 3 min
    Judge Melanie Plimmer

    Judge Melanie Plimmer

    If the poets of the past sat in their garrets dipping their quills in ink and waiting for inspiration to strike, our current Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has a more mundane and domestic arrangement. From his wooden shed in the garden, surrounded on all sides by the Pennine Hills and the Pennine weather, he scratches away at his reworking of the comic medieval poem The Owl and the Nightingale. Any distraction is welcome, even encouraged, to talk about poetry, music, art, sheds, sherry, owls, nightingales and to throw light on some of the poem's internal themes.

    Simon has invited Trinidadian-born Judge Melanie Plimmer to help him sort out the owl and the nightingale who argue often in the poem. Their conversation ranges from the business of passing judgement and the skill of arbitration to Sundays spent on the beach in Trinidad and wearing the judge's wig. Simon also draws on his own experience of attending court as a working probation officer in his pre-poet life.

    • 40 min
    Sam Lee

    Sam Lee

    If the poets of the past sat in their garrets dipping their quills in ink and waiting for inspiration to strike, our current Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has a more mundane and domestic arrangement. From his wooden shed in the garden, surrounded on all sides by the Pennine Hills and the Pennine weather, he scratches away at his reworking of the comic medieval poem The Owl and the Nightingale. Any distraction is welcome, even encouraged, to throw light on some of the poem's internal themes .

    Sam Lee - folk song collector, environmentalist and singer - has a special relationship with the outside world and the nightingale, so his appearance in the shed is most welcome. Simon has never seen a nightingale, living in an area which has none. So he's curious to hear about Sam's night-time walks into the Sussex countryside to hear them. It's a profound sensory experience at night. The call is loud and ears throb. Sam describes calling them out of the trees, singing with them and taking groups of people into the woods who are often overwhelmed by the sound of this musical bird.

    Sam talks about collecting folk song around the country and both finish by singing Pratty Flowers, the anthem of Homfirth, a village near to Simon's shed.

    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
61 Ratings

61 Ratings

Kev the window cleaner ,

Great listening

Just begun listening today & thoroughly enjoyed it! It feels like you’re the third friend in the conversation.
P.S I clean Simon’s Mum & Dad’s windows 😉

Wendy, Leics. ,

Superb podcast

I have very much enjoyed Simon Armitage’s excellent podcasts.
Worrying that there has been nothing since the end of May, hope all is well.

Troutinboots ,

What is the Joe Wicks Podcast doing here?

I was excited and looking forward to Simon Armitage.

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