'Pollution-cutting' Simon Armitage poem gets airing overlooking A57
A new Simon Armitage poem on display at the University of Sheffield has been printed on material specially developed to help reduce nitrogen dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
According to the University, the ‘catalytic’ poem entitled ‘In Praise of Clean Air’, has been printed on material containing a formula invented at the university that is capable of purifying its surroundings. The university said the nanotechnology could also be applied to billboards and advertisements alongside congested roads to cut pollution.
Armitage, who is professor of poetry at the university, worked on the project with Sheffield’s pro-vice-chancellor for science, Prof Tony Ryan, who said: “This is a fun collaboration between science and the arts to highlight a very serious issue of poor air quality in our towns and cities.
“The science behind this is an additive which delivers a real environmental benefit that could actually help cut disease and save lives. This poem alone will eradicate the nitrogen oxide pollution created by about 20 cars every day.”
He added: “If every banner, flag or advertising poster in the country did this, we’d have much better air quality. It would add less than £100 to the cost of a poster and would turn advertisements into catalysts in more ways than one. The countless thousands of poster sites that are selling us cars beside our roads could be cleaning up emissions at the same time.”
The poem will be on display on the side of the University’s Alfred Denny building, overlooking the A57, for a year. Its unveiling also marked the launch of this year’s Sheffield Lyric festival. A version of the poem will also be showcased during a late-night exhibition at the Natural History Museum in London on 11 June.
Armitage added: “Poetry often comes out of the intimate and the personal, so it’s strange to think of a piece in such an exposed place, written so large and so bold. I hope the spelling is right.”
You can read the full poem here