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Poet laureate's collection and tour celebrating blossom

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The poet laureate, Simon Armitage, has launched a collection in celebration of spring, and in collaboration with the National Trust. He has spent a year travelling the country visiting gardens and remote rural locations, but also parks, shopping precincts and city centres.

The result is a collection of poetry and the release of an EP by his band, LYR, both called Blossomise, that he hopes will inspire people. The collection is illustrated by printmaker Angela Harding.

Armitage said: “Nature writing goes right back to the very origins of poetry. I wanted the poems to key in to that tradition. At the same time, I wanted them to exist in the here and now, using everyday language and dealing with contemporary issues, not least climate change. Blossom is such a strong emblem of spring, but also a very delicate indicator of unstable climate conditions. I’ve tried to find that balance both within and across the poems.”

Five of the pieces have been adapted into songs for the Blossomise EP, which LYR worked on with community choirs and student film-makers. The poems and songs are to be performed at sites from Plymouth to Newcastle upon Tyne, notionally following the advance of spring from south to north.

Armitage said: “This feels like the right project at the right time, designed to amplify the joy of blossom, encourage people all over the country to feel inspired by nature’s resilience, and to welcome the coming of spring.”

In his poem  ‘The Spectators’, Armitage likens blossom to trees in fancy dress, “manic pierrots throwing sugared almonds and cherry lips into the streets”.

This is the fifth year of the National Trust’s blossom campaign, which came to prominence during the first Covid lockdown. Annie Reilly, head of the blossom programme, said she hoped the Armitage project would inspire people, “whether that is by reading poetry under the falling petals of a cherry tree, listening to the music in the middle of an orchard, smelling spring’s perfume in the gardens, attending a live performance, or simply taking in the sea of pink and white petals, wherever they are”.

Details of the tour from 20-28 April are available here



by Simon Armitage


We plucked a poem

out of a book,

scissored it off

while the words and letters

still popped,

while the lines and stanzas

curtsied and blushed.


We dried and pressed it

between the years,

between cherry leaves.

That makes no sense.

Then folded and folded it,

posted it into a hole

in a stone-fruit tree.


It was an old-style,

home-style poem.

Meaning what?

Meaning blossom as light,

blossom as hope

after winter’s tunnel,

after the narrow dark.


The plan was to reignite

the living flame

if the flame went out.

Hey presto, in April

the poem budded and bloomed

and we read it, chanted it,

knew it by heart.


But it blossomed again

in July, then again

in December, drunk

on meltwater, drugged

with the tepid milk

of the winter sun.

What had we done?


Published by Faber in collaboration with the National Trust


Simon Armitage on Channel 4 News 




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Stephen Gospage

Thu 21st Mar 2024 08:40

Nature poetry is so important, and so difficult. The poet laureate is to be congratulated on this initiative. Blossom is all around us at the moment.

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