When he became Britain’s poet laureate in 2019, Simon Armitage promised to put the environment at the heart of his work. In July this year, he travelled to the Arctic to see for himself what’s going on in a region suffering so sharply from the ravages of climate change. A series of documentary programmes he made for BBC Radio 4, reporting on what he found and responding with a series of new poems, will be broadcast from Tuesday morning (October 10). His pamphlet of poems, The Cryosphere, will be available to buy from Faber at an event in London on October 23, when Armitage will be in conversation with Julia Wheeler, the writer and journalist (and chair of judges for the 2023 Stanfords Travel Book of the Year award).
In a piece published in The Guardian yesterday — with one of his poems, “The Summit” — Armitage wrote:
… the most bewildering aspect of the whole expedition, for me, was the heat. The temperature hovered around 11C for five days, and for much of the time I wandered about in shirtsleeves, jeans and a pair of trainers. The thermal long johns never came out of the suitcase. Only the mountaintops were snow-covered.