International Preservation of the Ozone Layer Day marks the day in 1987 when 24 countries signed the Montreal Protocol to reduce emissions damaging to the ozone layer by the year 2000. The ozone layer makes life on Earth possible, because it acts as a filter of the sun’s deadly ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Simon Armitage (1963 – ) was born in West Yorkshire, England, and is the author of over 20 poetry collections, including Zoom!; Paper Aeroplane; Seeing Stars; The Shout: Selected Poems (2005), which was short-listed for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and The Unaccompanied. He is professor of poetry at the University of Leeds. In 2019, he was appointed as Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom.
To read Simon Armitage’s poem “In Praise of Air” click:
This poem by Simon Armitage was part of a British teach-in forum, where scientists and artists from many disciplines joined together to call attention to the dangers of air pollution.
In Praise of Air
by Simon Armitage
I write in praise of air. I was six or five
when a conjurer opened my knotted fist
and I held in my palm the whole of the sky.
I’ve carried it with me ever since.
Let air be a major god, its being
and touch, its breast-milk always tilted
to the lips. Both dragonfly and Boeing
dangle in its see-through nothingness…
Among the jumbled bric-a-brac I keep
a padlocked treasure-chest of empty space,
and on days when thoughts are fuddled with smog
or civilization crosses the street
with a white handkerchief over its mouth
and cars blow kisses to our lips from theirs
I turn the key, throw back the lid, breathe deep.
My first word, everyone’s first word, was air.
“In Praise of Air” — In May, 2014, it was installed on a wall at the University of Sheffield