Walking Home

A Poet's Journey

Armitage, Simon

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Walking Home
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Describes the author's travels as he walked the Pennine Way through England and stopped each night to give a poetry reading in a different village in return for a place to sleep.

Publisher: New York :, Liveright Publishing Corporation, a division of W.W. Norton & Company,, 2013.
Edition: First American edition.
ISBN: 0871404168
9780871404169
Characteristics: xii, 285 pages :,illustrations, maps ;,22 cm

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Mar 19, 2015
  • Liber_vermis rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The poet-author sets out to walk over 200-miles on a remote, rugged trail - and just fails to reach his destination. At first I felt let down. Then, on second thought, I realized that Armitage was, perhaps inadvertently, giving us a life lesson. I hope, though, he pulls on his hiking boots, some day, to complete the last five miles.

Mar 03, 2015
  • hey44 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

The premise of this book is dubious at best. It is promoted as the travels and travails of a “modern troubadour”, travelling with no money and relying on the kindness of strangers, yet in each chapter Armitage reports on the takings of his most recent poetry reading and how he must transport this money, some in his daypack and some (the heavier coins) in the suitcase that someone else transports to his next stop. Moreover, Armitage does not seem to really care about the kind folks who support him on this journey, the ones who provide food, warm beds, hot showers, and venues for his poetry readings. It is difficult to feel sympathetic to him (despite what surely were some very real struggles), given that he seems to have company much of the way. Some is expert company and some involves people he would rather not be obliged to keep company with. Therefore he comes across as a snob and an opportunist.
In the end, I never did understand why the author set out on this expedition other than to try to sell more of his books, and he doesn’t ever seem to truly enjoy the journey or appreciate the fact that the Pennine Way, and many others paths like it, criss-cross the UK, readily accessible to walkers like him. This one is even in his own neck of the woods, yet he seems to view the trek more as obligation than opportunity. It is difficult to want to keep reading when the author seems so half-hearted in his mission, and so unappreciative of the people and places he crosses paths with. I slogged through to the end purely out of curiosity about British walking paths and a desire to finish what I started.
The write-up for this book (which gives the book far more credit than it deserves) mentions humour, and yes there are some successful attempts at droll humour, but more often the author simply comes across as trying too hard. For real, laugh out loud funny in a similar genre of book, try Bill Bryson’s “Walk in the Woods”.

Jul 24, 2013
  • sharonh12 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Rousing account of a hike down the backbone of Great Britain with a poetry reading at each stop. Great companion read to The Kingdom by the Sea-Paul Theroux.

A must for any Anglophile.

Jul 02, 2013
  • ser_library rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

more than a blog, with poetry, background, geographical knowledge and humour

Jun 10, 2013

"Growing up in Marsden, England, author and poet Simon Armitage regularly saw hikers walking the Pennine Way. The 256-mile path, called the country's backbone, reaches from Derbyshire to just past the Scottish border, takes approximately three weeks to hike, and covers land both beautiful and bleak. When 47-year-old Armitage decides to walk the path himself, he starts in Scotland (where most finish), so that he'll be heading home. Roaming like a troubadour of old, he describes his experiences on the trail and the people he meets as well as his stops each night to give poetry readings in different villages in return for a place to sleep. Readers who enjoyed Robert Macfarlane's The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot may also enjoy this "travel gem" (Booklist)." June 2013 Armchair Travel newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=642947

Apr 07, 2013

Kind of mild really, & shapeless.

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Mar 03, 2015
  • hey44 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

....dazzling sunlight is suddenly reflecting from the rain-coated skin of the fruit, and I notice an unusual presence walking along beside me for a few minutes, someone I haven’t seen for a while: my shadow. (p 179)

Mar 03, 2015
  • hey44 rated this: 1.5 stars out of 5.

I also have to question the extent to which the final ascent of Sleightholm Moor can legitimately be termed a ‘path’, when in all honesty it is a quagmire, half a mile of sticky toffee pudding and black treacle with just the odd tussock to leap for. The mud, when I stand in it, which is unavoidable, is reluctant to let go, and wants to rive off my boots and my trousers as well given half a chance, and I make several detours left and right looking for a land-bridge or something with grass on it, only to be blocked by either a swamp, a flooded ditch, a stream in full flow or one of those ghostly, rheumy ponds of standing water which in the film version of this escapade would be full of severed heads. Finally, having splashed off the moor on all fours, sodden and dripping and cold, I turn around and look back over the wet, shifting horizons ad the heaving summits, and at the rain-filled and swelling moors. More than anything else, it looks like the ocean. (p 170)

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