Poet Simon Armitage and his band will play Wakefield's Long Division festival next month

Poet laureate Simon Armitage will be one of the star attractions at this year's Long Division festival in Wakefield.

By Julie Marshall
Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 9:29 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th May 2022, 9:31 am
Poet laureate Simon Armitage who is appearing at this  year's Long Division festival in Wakefield.
Poet laureate Simon Armitage who is appearing at this year's Long Division festival in Wakefield.

On Friday, June 10, he will be in conversation with Chris Madden of Chinwag for an evening of poetry and discussion at Wakefield Town Hall.

Armitage is from Marsden near Huddersfield but, by his own admission, has spent a lot of time in Wakefield, "Most of it at the station waiting for trains up and down to London", but he has also visited The Hepworth and Yorkshire Sculpture Park as well as giving a number of readings at Theatre Royal Wakefield and the Orangery over the years.

He said: "Wakefield is one of those places that are in my orbit but slightly outside it as well."

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He is also well aware of Long Division and was due to play the festival last year with his band LYR but it fell through.

He said: "I'm really looking forward to the festival. I was speaking to some people in Nottingham recently who said they were going up for it. They said it's really made its mark and become a diary event in Wakefield. The line-up for music looks really good."

"It interests me that Long Division is a festival in a city because lots of them are out in fields and involve mud and camping.

"This sounds like the kind of place that celebrates the fabric of a city and uses the available spaces within it.

"Over the past 10 years or so we've lost lots of music venues, places where bands used to play and cut their teeth. Places like the Cockpit in Leeds and a lot of pubs don't have bands on anymore.

"Universities used to be one of the main stagers of gigs but they don't have touring bands on anymore and, in some ways, festivals have stepped in to replace a lot of things we've lost."

Armitage and his band LYG, which stands for Land Yacht Regatta, are playing during Saturday's day-long festival.

He said: " We've been together about two years. I started working with a singer-songwriter called Richard Walters. He used some of my poems for lyrics and then we got a bit more serious about it. Patrick Pearson got involved and we made several tracks and got picked up by a label. We released an album last year and are working on a second album.

"I write most of the lyrics for the band - I speak them on stage, Richard sings and Pat plays instruments - we are a five-piece when we play live.

"I'm credited on the album as 'talking'.

"Working with LYR has really woken up something that I've been wanting to do for a long time. I love writing song lyrics and working with musicians, but I didn't think we imagined we'd be playing so many shows when we formed.

"It seems to be something that has really worked out.

"Music has always been important in my life I've never been shy about talking about it as an influence and I've written a lot about music."

Armitage has recently written an essay piece as an introduction to Kevin Cummins' new book about The Fall, Telling Stories: Photographs of The Fall, which is due out in October and, as is expected of the poet laureate has just finished writing a poem for the Queen's Platinum Jubilee.