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DATE: 22nd April 2010

TIME: 6.30pm

VENUE: Swedenborg House, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH

SPEAKER/S: Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage will read from his translation of the Middle English epic poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Faber & Faber, 2007), proclaimed by Nicholas Lezard in the Guardian to be ‘the best translation of any poem I’ve ever seen’. Sir Gawain has featured in many ‘best book of the year’ lists in both the UK and the US, encouraging Simon to make an accompanying documentary for BBC television.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a fourteenth-century Arthurian romance. It tells of a mysterious Green Knight, who interrupts the New Year’s Eve Festivities at Camelot by challenging someone to strike him a blow—with the proviso that he will return it in a year and a day’s time. This challenge is accepted by Gawain, the youngest knight at Arthur’s court, who promptly chops off the Green Knight’s head. The victim unexpectedly picks up his head and exits, leaving Gawain to search out the Green Chapel the following year in order to confront his fate. Sir Gawain is a staple of Middle English courses, but Armitage’s excellent verse translation has delivered it from the classroom to the armchair.

SIMON ARMITAGE is one of the finest poets of his generation. The winner of the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year Award in 1993, he has published ten volumes of poetry, including Zoom! (Bloodaxe Books, 1989), Kid (Faber & Faber, 1992), CloudCuckooLand (Faber and Faber, 1997), and Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the Corduroy Kid (Faber & Faber, 2006). He has written two novels, Little Green Man (Penguin, 2001) and The White Stuff (Viking, 2004). Simon has also written for radio, television, film and theatre. He won an Ivor Novello award in 2003 and is the lead singer in the band The Scaremongers.