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Poet Laureate Simon Armitage at Brimham Rocks

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage walking through Brimham's moorland
Poet Laureate Simon Armitage walking through Brimham's moorland | © Annapurna Mellor

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage has been commissioned to write a poem inspired by Brimham Rocks. His poem celebrates what Brimham Rocks is and why it's such an important place for nature, wildlife, and visitors.

The Poem - 'Balancing Act'

The poem entitled 'Balancing Act' has been carved into two large, locally sourced stones creating a permanent work of art, which has been positioned on the north moor at Brimham. This space offers a place for reflection and contemplation, giving visitors an opportunity to connect with nature.

Balancing Act carved on stone pillars in Brimham's moorland
Celebrate Brimham Rocks and why it's an important place for nature, wildlife and visitors with a poem written by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage. | © Annapurna Mellor

Meet Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage is a Yorkshire-born writer and currently the national Poet Laureate (2019-2029).

He's Professor of Poetry at the University of Leeds and was elected to serve as Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford 2015-2019. In Spring 2019, he held the post of Holmes Visiting Professor at Princeton University, USA.

He's received numerous awards for his poetry including the Sunday Times Young Author of the Year, one of the first Forward Prizes, an Eric Gregory Award, a major Lannan Award, a Cholmondeley Award, the Spoken Word Award (Gold), the Ivor Novello Award for song writing, BBC Radio Best Speech Programme, Television Society Award for Documentary and Keats-Shelley Prize for Poetry. He won the 2017 PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation and was awarded the 2018 Queens Gold Medal for Poetry.

In 1999 Simon Armitage was named the Millennium Poet and in 2004 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was awarded the CBE for services to poetry in 2010 and presented with the Hay Medal for Poetry at the 25th Hay Festival in 2012.

Learn more about Poet Laureate Simon Armitage here

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage at Brimham Rocks
See the beauty of Brimham Rocks and the charm of Brimham's moorland through the words of Simon Armitage | © Annapurna Mellor

It was a chance to get reacquainted with the rocks. I’d explored them as a child and in my memory, they were almost mythical or pieces of an alien landscape. Coming back to the area as an adult, and a poet, they were no less fascinating and mysterious but carried new messages connected to the environment, the precarious state of nature and the importance of wild spaces to our well-being.

A quote by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage

'Balancing Act' A poem by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage

Listen and download 'Balancing Act'

Creating the art installation

The poem has been carved by our Lead Specialist Craftsperson, Richard Dawson, into Witton Fell stone. Sourced locally, Witton Fell was chosen for its colour and texture, representative of the stone formations at Brimham. If a slice was taken through one of the rocks here it wouldn't look very different.

Carving the poem 'Balancing Act' into stone
The poem 'Balancing Act' being carved by our Lead Specialist Craftsperson | © K Gisbourne

Connecting with nature

A magnet for geologists, naturalists, climbers, walkers, and young families, we want to make Brimham Rocks accessible for everyone. We want this special site to be a place of reflection and inspiration, where visitors can come and spend some quiet time connecting with nature as well as exploring, climbing and playing. With the increasing threat to nature from climate change, it's more important than ever to head outside and spend some time getting to know the unique landscape of Brimham Rocks whilst at the same time helping us to look after this special place for everyone, for ever.

I also discovered that Brimham Rocks is more than just the stones, and the poem is a celebration of the wider ecosystem, from some of its more glamorous and obvious manifestations to micro-organisms, open moorland, and seemingly empty skies.

A quote by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage

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'Balancing Act' - A poem by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage

Watch this short video to hear Poet Laureate Simon Armitage reciting 'Balancing Act' and sharing his thoughts and inspirations for the poem.

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