The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2018 awarded to Simon Armitage

Published 19 December 2018

Professor Armitage will be presented with the medal by The Queen in 2019.

The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2018 awarded to Simon Armitage

The Poetry Medal Committee has recommended the poet Simon Armitage as this year's recipient of The Queen's Award for Poetry, on the basis of the body of his work.

Professor Simon Armitage, CBE, FRSL, was born in 1963 in the village of Marsden, West Yorkshire. He studied at the universities of Portsmouth and Manchester and until 1994 worked as a probation officer in Greater Manchester. He has written poetry throughout his life and has published many collections of his own verse, from Zoom! (1989) to his most recent work The Unaccompanied (2017). As well as new translations of early English verse, including Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (2009), Professor Armitage has also produced dramatisations and versions of Greek and Latin poems respectively.

Her Majesty’s Gold Medal for Poetry

He has been active as a teacher and mentor at universities internationally, and holds five Honorary Doctorates at UK universities. Professor Armitage has been Professor of Poetry at the universities of Sheffield (2011-2017), Oxford (since 2015) and Leeds (since 2017). He is also a Vice-President of the Poetry Society. In 2004 Professor Armitage was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and in 2010 he was awarded the CBE for services to poetry.

Summing up the Committee’s decision, the Poet Laureate writes:

“From the beginning Simon Armitage was an original writer and a boundary-breaking poet.

He spun poems of emotional weight and musical grace from the fabric of our everyday lives: the high street and suburbia, classrooms and tearooms, the pillion seat on a motorcycle. He touched the matter of our lives with characters and subject matter that lived among us: teachers and council tenants, chip shops and television shows, figures who drank in the local pub and shopped in the nearby supermarket.

“But the poems of Simon Armitage were always idealists too, equally at home in fictive, surrealist or utopic worlds as they were in his native Huddersfield town centre. With wit and charm, they would challenge hypocrisy wherever they encountered it, giving voice to those rarely admitted into poetry, and extending an arm around the unheard and the dispossessed. And for all the attention to the grain and trouble of daily lives, the poems never lost sight of wider horizons: our outer space full of possibilities, the dream space of our love.”

Professor Armitage will be presented with the medal by The Queen in 2019.

Gillian Allnutt is presented with The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace, London.

Gillian Allnutt is presented with The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry by The Queen at Buckingham Palace, in 2017

History of The Gold Medal for Poetry

The Gold Medal for Poetry was instituted by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield. The Medal is awarded for excellence in poetry, on the basis either of a body of work over several years, or for an outstanding poetry collection issued during the year of the award. The poet will be from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth realm, and the poems will have been published.

The front of the medal bears the crowned effigy of The Queen. The idea of the reverse, which was designed by the late Edmund Dulac, is ‘Truth is emerging from her well and holding in her right hand the divine flame of inspiration – Beauty is Truth and Truth Beauty’.

Previous recipients of The Gold Medal for Poetry

1934       Laurence Whistler
1936       W H Auden​
1940       Michael Thwaites​
1952       Andrew Young
1953       Arthur Waley​
1954       Ralph Hodgson​
1955       Ruth Pitter
1956       Edmund Blunden​
1957       Siegfried Sassoon
1959       Frances Cornford​
1960       John Betjeman
1962       Christopher Fry
1963       William Plomer​
1964       R S Thomas
1965       Philip Larkin
1967       Charles Causley​
1968       Robert Graves
1969       Stevie Smith
1970      Roy Fuller
1971      Sir Stephen Spender
1973      John Heath-Stubbs
1981      D J Enright​
1986      Norman MacCaig​
1988      Derek Walcott
1989      Allen Curnow​
1990      Sorley Maclean
1991      Judith Wright
1992      Kathleen Raine​
1996      Peter Redgrove​
1998      Les Murray
2000      Edwin Morgan
2001      Michael Longley​
2002      Peter Porter
2003       U A Fanthorpe​
2004       Hugo Williams
2006      Fleur Adcock​
2007      James Fenton
2009      Don Paterson
2010      Gillian Clarke
2011      Jo Shapcott​
2012      John Agard​
2013      Douglas Dunn
2014      Imtiaz Dharker​
2015      Liz Lochhead​
2016      Gillian Allnutt​
2017      Paul Muldoon