Synopses & Reviews
The wandering poet has always been a feature of our cultural imagination. Odysseus journeys home, his famous flair for storytelling seducing friend and foe. The Romantic poets tramped all over the Lake District searching for inspiration. Now Simon Armitage, with equal parts enthusiasm and trepidation, as well as a wry humor all his own, has taken on Britain's version of our Appalachian Trail: the Pennine Way. Walking "the backbone of England" by day (accompanied by friends, family, strangers, dogs, the unpredictable English weather, and a backpack full of Mars Bars), each evening he gives a poetry reading in a different village in exchange for a bed. Armitage reflects on the inextricable link between freedom and fear as well as the poet's place in our bustling world. In Armitage's own words, "to embark on the walk is to surrender to its lore and submit to its logic, and to take up a challenge against the self."
"What makes Armitage's pilgrimage special is that he attempts to fuel it on poetry alone. . . . [T]his is an adventure story, compellingly and humorously told." Daily Beast
"The walk is serious, but Armitage knows how to have fun along the way . . . managing a surprise ending that feels, psychically, satisfying." Boston Globe
"Never showy or excitable, his prose has a steady, phlegmatic, gently propulsive rhythm perfectly suited to the matter at hand, his sentences in tune with his feet." Ben Downing
"Starred review. [A]n ingenious idea for a journey and a brilliant idea for a book, which includes some of his poems. In this entertaining jaunt through rural Britain and unpredictable weather, part travel guide and part memoir, Armitage describes his adventures, from collie dogs growling at his heels and "mean-looking cows" to the unbridled generosity of strangers. A travel gem." The Wall Street Journal
"Part pilgrimage and part stunt... He writes with self-effacing humor and mixes a few of his own poems with memoir, natural history, and literary reflections... Though Armitage complains at times that the Pennine Way is an 'unglamorous slog among soggy, lonely moors" ...his account is never a slog for the reader." Booklist
Nineteen days, 256 miles, and one renowned poet walking the backbone of England.
About the Author
Simon Armitage is an award-winning poet who has published ten volumes of poetry and translations of both Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Death of King Arthur. He is professor of poetry at the University of Sheffield, England.