Armitage ready to investigate the role of rap in modern poetry
Simon Armitage has said he will use rap and hip hop to investigate definitions of modern poetry in his forthcoming role as the new professor of poetry at Oxford University. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said he did not have a list of objectives, but added: “I do want to broaden the things that we investigate.
“We are a hypochondriac lot, we are always thinking that our form is in peril on or the point of expiring and yet you look … at what's happening in the world of rap - which I am not saying this is necessarily poetry per se - but it is certainly dealing in poetry technique. These are the forthcoming generations and for me that's about connecting with the present and not thinking of poetry as a museum.
“We might need to consider what constitutes poetry, and rap might be one of the answers. If it comes up I'll probably talk about Kate Tempest - though she might be hip hop.”
He said: “Throughout my life as a poet from the beginning, generally I like to think about expanding our definition of what poetry is and challenging some ideas of ownership. Who makes these categories? Who decides what works and what doesn’t work as poetry?
“I don't see the post as being restricted to just talking about poetry - other subjects will get drawn in: culture, politics, news agendas of the day. I don’t want to be restricted to just talking about poetry because poetry overlaps with [other subjects].”
He also thinks that the next person taking his place should be a woman. “You can’t look at an institution and see it's never had a woman in poetry and say that's right. That's got to change just as poetry itself changed hugely through women's voices.”
PHOTOGRAPH: GREG FREEMAN / WRITE OUT LOUD