9/11: Out of the Blue – Simon Armitage’s Poem read by Rufus Sewell

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks, a day I still remember vividly as I was on my way to work that morning. I was listening to my local radio on my commute when they interrupted programming when the first plane hit. I immediately thought it was some pilot error, and that was what the DJ thought too, until the second plane hit the other tower and both the radio folks and I gasped at the same time… and that day, we knew things weren’t going to be the same again.

A couple of years a go, I came across this TV broadcast of a poem written in 2006 by British poet/playwright/novelist Simon Armitage. “I wanted to do something which was both commemorative and elegiac, but not political,” said Armitage in the 2006 Times article. To mark the fifth anniversary of 9/11, the poem was broadcast on BBC with actor Rufus Sewell portraying a fictional British trader trapped in one of the twin towers as the planes strike. It begins with the trader going about his day in downtown New York as if it was just another ordinary day…

Up with the lark, downtown
New York.
The sidewalks, the blocks.
Walk. Don’t Walk. Walk.
Don’t Walk.

It’s a deeply moving poem, performed brilliantly by Sewell as he’s being filmed against a backdrop of a dealing office. It’s tough to watch however, as actual footage of that fateful day were shown, and the poem itself carries an emotional punch. Armitage takes all those ubiquitous footage splattered all over the media to a mind-numbing point and gives it almost a personal twist by giving the victim a ‘face and a voice’ if you will, offering us a moment to live vicariously through this man and glimpse into the emotion and fears he was facing on the last day of his life. It’s as if we get a view from inside the building, the horror within, a view we rarely get to see.

Here are the clips in four parts:

PART I

PART II

PART III

PART IV


My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone effected by 9/11. Do you remember where you were 10 years ago today?

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11 thoughts on “9/11: Out of the Blue – Simon Armitage’s Poem read by Rufus Sewell

  1. PrairieGirl

    Rufus is amazing with his narration, he was a perfect choice for this project. I still haven’t been able to watch all of them through… I think I get to the end of the second part and it’s too much for me to take. One of these days I will watch all.

    I was already at work, and colleagues around me started to get phone calls from friends and family, and pretty soon everyone was on CNN.com. It took me a little while to start piecing all the news together, but once I had, I clearly remember thinking I never thought I’d ever see a day like this in my lifetime, but I was wrong. I pass the MSP airport every day on my way to work and back, and distinctly remember the empty skies for days when I usually saw anywhere from two to six flights very day. My heart goes out to everyone who was affected that day.

    1. Amazing is the word… though like you, it was tough to watch the whole thing because of all those footage.

      Thanks for sharing your memory of that fateful day… I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I first heard about the attacks.

  2. Ted S.

    That was great, thanks for posting Ruth. I still remember that day like it was yesterday, I worked night shift back then and I woke up turned on the TV and saw what was happening in NYC. First I thought the explosions happened from the inside, until I saw the replay of the airplane crashed into the the towers. I was sort of numb all over and I remember I went into work that night and we didn’t do anything at all but watched the news.

    1. Yeah, I couldn’t help posting it even though it’s 5 years old. It’s such a compelling doc that’s lots of people haven’t seen.

      We didn’t get any work done that day either, Ted, I was working at Creatis that year and we all had to go down to Cuzzy’s as there was no TV at the office. We were all transfixed and couldn’t believe what was happening.

  3. Brilliant poem, and Sewell’s narration is perfect.

    I was 14 on that fateful day; when it occured in America, it was actually the middle of the night down here, so we didn’t discover anything until the morning. I went to school and for the whole six hours we sat and listened to it on the radio and saw it on the TV, talking about it. It was a vivid and very slow six hours as the gravity of it began to set in. It’s the worst disaster I think I’ve ever lived through, even though New Zealand wasn’t directly affected.

    1. Thanks for sharing Tyler, it’s interesting to see a perspective from people living outside the US. I think it really took the whole world by surprise considering its scale… even just looking at the footage it seemed like something out of a Roland Emmerich’s movie!!

  4. My thoughts go out to all Americans on this day, especially New Yorkers.

    9/11 was the day that completely changed the world. Not only did it spark ten years of war, but also movies, music, tv and humanity in general.

    Life will never be the same.

    1. Hey my BFF, thanks for your thoughtful comment, matey! Yes you are so right, let’s not just focus on the negative, I think tragedy often brings out the best in people as well.

  5. I was at the university math center studying for an exam when I learned of the horrific event. my thoughts went immediately to my family there (grandma, several uncles, and cousins) to learn much later that they were safe. Took hours for the phone lines to clear and get through. Such a sad day. I still tear up thinking about it sometimes. I’ll never forget where I was.

    May God bless America. Always remember 9/11. Never forget God.

  6. Pingback: A Birthday Tribute – 44 Reasons We Love Rufus Sewell |

  7. I stumbled onto this by accident last night. The poem and perfect recitation of it by Sewell put me right there in the Towers. The footage was placed perfectly into the recitation. This is deeply real and brought back all the sorrow, rage, and helplessness of that day. God bless Armitage, Sewell, and all who contributed to the production of this film. I think we should all [try to] see it every 5 to 10 years so we don’t forget how vulnerable, brave, and victimized they were and we are. Thank you for a wonderful performance.

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