Star rating - 8/10
Poet Simon Armitage has given a very entertaining, amusing, and thoughtful talk on his 2010 Pennine Way walk as part of the Manchester Literature Festival. He is talented, intelligent, and very good company - which is probably why he got so many temporary companions and supporters along the 260 mile trek.
His new book 'Walking Home' is the story of the walk, and he read some lovely extracts from it, as well as answering random audience questions in and honest and open way (all expect the one about the difference between Yorkshire and Lancashire folk which he neatly, and very sensibly, swerved). He tackled the route in his typically self confessed perverse manner, by doing it the wrong way around and walking towards his home village of Marsden, just over the Lancashire border in Yorkshire. He also challenged himself bravely, some might say foolishly, as a modern day troubadour, giving poetry recitals each night for his keep.
Through this book, Armitage demonstrates his skill at prose writing as well as his more familiar art of poetry. He is a very witty guy, with a pleasingly dry Northern humour. And his lovely slide show of photos from his journey was given in the spirit of amateur holiday slide shows of yesteryear.
He says his experience has made him more optimistic about people and communities as a result of the warmth, kindness, and company he was offered along the way. My experience of listening to him has just made me want to read his book , and dare I venture, even to walk the Pennine Way myself one day. A lovely evening in the company of a very talented man.