Drawing parallels with other poems in the Book of Matches explore the ways in which Armitage effectively conveys experience in Hitcher

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Drawing parallels with other poems in the “Book of Matches” explore the ways in which Armitage effectively conveys experience in ‘Hitcher’.

‘Hitcher’ by Simon Armitage is a chilling poem in which a frustrated man, who picks up a hitcher with “just a toothbrush and the good earth for a bed”, takes out his anger on this ‘hippy’ and throws him out of a moving car: he is cheered up by doing so and says that “the outlook for the day was” now “moderate to fair”. This poem contains key ideas and concerns that are reminiscent of Simon Armitage’s other poetry and therefore parallels can be drawn between this poem and his other works in the collection, “Book of Matches”.

This poem is much longer than the sonnets which form the central sequence of the collection. This shorter sequence, which gives the collection its name, is based on the pub game of telling your life story in the time it takes for a match to burn. However, these sonnets are often imperfect in form (irregular meter and pararhyme) and it seems that Armitage’s philosophy and experience influence his poetry and do not allow him to write in the perfect and romantic form of a true sonnet. In the poem ‘Hitcher’, there a five, five line stanzas, which almost have a syllabically regular structure, despite its irregular rhyme scheme. It is written in the form of a monologue that allows the reader to gain insight into the mind of this killer and adds to the immediacy and the authenticity of the poem. The first stanza of 'Hitcher' reveals that the narrator has been off work for a while and is under threat of losing his job. He colloquially states that he had been “tired, under//the weather”, but not seriously ill. This seems to describe someone who is unable to face the routine of everyday life and he states that the “ansaphone” is “screaming” that he will be fired if he produces “one more sick note”. The frequent use of proper nouns is common in Armitage’s poems and shows the grounded and down-to-earth quality of his work.
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‘Hitcher’ presents us with two extremes in society: two men of the same age, one of whom has succeeded in escaping all ties and worries, the other caught up in it, but unable to face up to its demands and threatened with losing his job. In a question and answer session with Simon Armitage, he said that at the time he was writing the poem, he was torn between both characters as he was choosing between either becoming a full-time poet or continuing as a probation officer. This also could represent a deeper meaning as it shows that ...

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