Monday, 31 October 2011

The Shout

Simon Armitage* was the first contemporary poet I took a shine to when I stopped regarding poetry as a secret compulsion and started submitting, performing and reading poems.

His poem 'The Shout' had a powerful impact on me. You could read it HERE now but I worry you'll get distracted and go off surfing and end up looking at a series of knitted body parts on a Czech website! So I've embedded a video of Simon reading it below. (Followed, if you have the patience, by a delightfully quirky poem about whales.)

It's the last line that does it. I like the poem and the story which inspired it, but the thing I LOVE is that I will always remember it: like the man can still hear the boy I can still hear Simon Armitage reading out those lines.

That is the impact of a good poem. It is what I want to achieve when I write. The best thing is when someone quotes one of your own lines back at you years later, and yes, it has happened to me.

* Related post - Out of the Blue, Simon's piece on 9/11

Buy it from here: The Shout: Selected Poems


  1. I know that you set high standards for yourself in your work, BB. The proof of the pudding...and all that.

    Newbie that I am, I only heard 'The Shout' quite recently. I agree, it's a truly fine poem.

    I'm not sure that anyone will be quoting my writing back to me in years to come. But, since dipping my toe into poetry pond, I have had emails asking permission to use some of my lines. A humbling experience, indeed.

  2. Wonderful stuff - both of them. I can’t bear to revisit ‘Out of the Blue’ just yet though; I’m still reeling from the first experience of it.

  3. Wow, I didn't expect that ending to The Shout. How clever and unexpected was that? You know what, I have never really understood poetry, but I watched his performance of both poems and they were mesmerising.

    Especially the bit about the oil in the sperm whales head being akin to actual sperm (because the observers had been without ladies for several weeks!).

    Thanks for expanding my horizons ;-)

  4. I didn't mean to post twice in the same day but having problems scheduling stuff in BLogger's new platform... just had to pull a third one!! Sorry folks. But I've left this one because of the great comments!

    Martin - I'm not sure 'humbling' is the right word! I'm sure it will happen with you Martin - I could probably do it now if my head wasn't frazzled from 11 hours at the counter! ... you're a fine poet.

    Nell - Glad you liked! 8-)

    Annie - Yay! I'm starting to win you over, aren't I? I hadn't heard the whale one before and loved it too! It's funny because Andrew Motion (ex poet laureate) has a whale poem but Simon's is so.o.o.o. much better - ha!