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?