Southsea seafront is sheer poetry

03.07.24

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage

A poem written by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage will be integrated into the promenade near Southsea Castle as part of Portsmouth City Council’s commitment to incorporate public art into the Southsea Coastal Scheme.

The poem is entitled ‘The Theatre of the Sea’ after the name given to the new multi-tiered promenade around the castle which offers stunning views across the Solent.

Southsea has special significance to Simon as he has connections to the local area from his time as an undergraduate student at Portsmouth Polytechnic (now the University of Portsmouth).

A group of year 10 students will be first to hear the poem on 10 July at an event at the New Theatre Royal at 11am. It will be unveiled to the public when it is incorporated into the seafront later this year.

Simon said: “It’s four decades since I graduated from Portsmouth as a geography student; a lot has changed in that time and I see it now with the eyes of a poet.

“Being invited to write a poem that will become part of its new geography has been a great honour and a wonderful kind of reunion.”

The poem is part of a Portsmouth City Council programme of creative projects featuring a balance of local artists and artists with a national or international profile.

All projects will be commissioned by the council to enhance the new promenades and public spaces within the Southsea Coastal Scheme.

‘Open call’ opportunities for artists to create new work for the scheme will be announced later in the year.

Seafront Arts Officer for the council, Harry Scott said:

We’re thrilled that Simon Armitage has written a poem especially for Portsmouth and it will add something really special to the Southsea Coastal Scheme.

“This is the first part of an exciting programme of public art projects that we are planning for the seafront which will celebrate local themes and stories and offer lots of opportunities for local artists.

“We’re looking forward to sharing more on this soon and I hope that this first announcement is a good indicator of what an ambitious, high-quality programme we have planned.”