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Simon Armitage on writing 'Walking Home'

SA_Walking Home/1
In 2010 Simon Armitage spent 19 days walking the 256 mile Pennine Way as a 'modern troubadour'. This online resource presents archive material relating to the walk and creation of Walking Home, held by Special Collections.
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Simon Armitage describes writing 'Walking Home'
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SA_Walking Home archive materials
A summary of the Walking Home archive materials
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Armitage Harmonium proposa
Details of book proposal 1
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Armitage Walking Home Proposal doc
Details of book proposal 2
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SA_Walking Home Red Notebook
introduction to the red notebook
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Walking Home SA/8
prose diary entry for day 0
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Walking Home SA/13
prose diary entry for day 1
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SA_Walking Home/126
Prose diary entry for day 15
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SA_Walking Away/162
red notebook poems introduction
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SA_Walking Home/18
first draft of the poem 'Cotton Grass'
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SA_Walking Home/31
second draft of the poem 'Cotton Grass'
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SA_Walking Home first proof/287
second draft of the poem 'Cotton Grass' continued
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SA_Walking Home_74
blank page entry headed 'fell ponies'
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SA_Walking Home/130
Comparison of three types of writing referring to black huts.
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SA_Walking Home/134
Notes on the changing imagery of 'Above Ickornshaw, Black Huts'
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Armitage Notebook Black Huts
Notes on the importance of landscape for the poem
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SA_Walking Home/108
Notes on the importance of poetic influences
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Walking Home SA_162
writing themes listed at the back of the red notebook
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SA_Walking Home/Glossop Audience
introduction to the Walking Home photograps
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SA_Walking Home/slug088
Walking Home photographs as visual narrative
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SA_Walking Home/digital_image/21
Walking Home: poetry as travel guide
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writing themes listed at the back of the red notebook
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Further reading material for Walking Home.
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'The scribbles and scrawls in the red notebook represent unevenly spaced and slippery stepping-stones between initial ideas and final published copy.  They were written very hurriedly, either at the end of each day of walking or as transcripts of voice-memos made on the moors and hills. As is usual in my journals, the punctuation and spelling are all over the place. I’ve always had a slightly lawless approach to word-formation and have wondered on occasions if I’m partly dyslexic; for me, spelling is to writing what speed-bumps and traffic-cameras are to motoring. When composing poems by hand I’m more determined and careful, mindful of a poem’s geometry on the page and enjoying the physical draughtsmanship of scripting. But with prose I know the real construction will only happen at the word-processing stage (along with the spell-checking) so the Pennine Way notes were panicky attempts to catch phrases, sketch out paragraphs and seize ideas before they perished in the memory.


As early as day one on the walk I realised that making hand-written entries on paper was going to prove completely impractical, partly because of the weather and partly because it involved stopping every half a mile or so, thereby delaying the schedule, disrupting rhythm and momentum, and breaking the emotional spell of the journey. Speaking ideas into an App on my phone – something I’d never done before – was a way of filing contemporaneous reports without breaking stride, and once I’d overcome the self-consciousness of talking to myself the memos became second nature, even a form of company.  The recordings also captured more contextual elements of the journey such as the sound of the weather and my mood at the time, and the transcription process offered an early opportunity to refine or delete certain passages, or to skew others in line with my tone of voice and the background sound effects.  Sadly (for me, at least) those recordings did not survive later upgrades between mobile phones and the computers they were paired with. Or they’re lying dormant in a Cloud storage facility on an industrial estate somewhere in New Mexico, in which case I’d be interested to hear how they might be re-awakened.'

Simon Armitage