Poems feature in the red notebook in a number of ways. One of the possible ‘writing themes’ listed at the back of the notebook is ‘The poetry of travel methods. Walking as iambic, the heartbeat and the footstep.’
Martin Heidegger wrote that ‘poetically man dwells’, highlighting the way in in which language mediates how we live, how we inhabit and how we ‘are’.
The suggestion of the red notebook seems to be ‘poetically man walks’: the language, but also the rhythm, of poetry connects us to the landscape.
Four new poems by Armitage appear in Walking Home, and one poem previously published in Book of Matches. Initial drafts for two of the new poems are found in the red notebook. Alongside these Armitage discusses some of the ‘journey’ poems that he reads at events along the walk including: ‘Causeway’, ‘Before you Cut Loose’ and his translations of the Odyssey and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. These earlier poems offer an interesting contrast to the poems written on the Pennine Way. They highlight the site-specific nature of the Walking Home poems while acknowledging the abiding thematic interest of physical and metaphorical journeys from classical to contemporary poetry.