Growing up in Marsden among the hills of West Yorkshire, Simon Armitage has always associated his early poetic experiences with the night-time view from his bedroom window, those ‘private, moonstruck observations’ and the clockwork comings and goings in the village providing rich subject matter for his first poems. Decades on, that window continues to operate as both framework and focal point for the writing, the vastness of the surrounding moors always at his shoulder and forming a constant psychological backdrop, no matter how much time has elapsed and how distant those experiences. Magnetic Field brings together Armitage’s Marsden poems, from his very first pamphlet to new work from a forthcoming collection.
It offers personal insight into a preoccupation that shows no signs of fading, and his perspective on a locality he describes as ‘transcendent and transgressive’, a genuinely unique region forming a frontier territory between many different worlds. Magnetic Field also invites questions about the forging of identity, the precariousness of memory, and our attachment to certain places and the forces they exert.