Poet laureate comes to Ripon Grammar School

From Ezra Pound to Poundland - HELEN MARS reports on poet laureate Simon Armitage's poetry reading at Ripon Grammar School

MOST people expect a poetry reading to be full of pretensions and overtly literary in jokes: Simon Armitage's event at Ripon Grammar School for the Ripon Poetry Festival was, as ever, the exact opposite. A mix of witty pop lyricist, astute cultural commentator, and occasional stand up comedian, it's easy to enjoy yourself at his readings, and overlook what a technically superb poet he is too. As the current poet laureate, Armitage speaks to and for the nation, and his refreshing and down-to-earth delivery held the audience spellbound throughout. A writer firmly rooted in Yorkshire, his poems range seamlessly from fundamental human truths to unexpected everyday scenarios, from Ezra Pound to Poundland, jokes about Ilkley, and the greatest phrase of the night ('a face like Doncaster'!) all found in one fantastic evening.

Organiser Andy Croft praised all those who contributed to the success of the festival: "An accessible, friendly, democratic and encouraging space for poetry."

He added that there were lots of spectacular moments, with a total audience over the weekend of 650: "So thanks to RGS for being part of it. Simon says he enjoyed himself. As I think the audience did!"

Thanks to our sound team. Photographs by TRISTAN PARIS