Carol Ann Duffy Named First British Poet Laureate

Article written by : UNO Art Gallery

After 341 years of male poet laureates such as Tennyson, Wordsworth, Dryden, and Ted Hughes, Britian now has its very first female and its first Scottish poet laureate in Carol Ann Duffy. Duffy, 53, succeeds Andrew Motion and will serve in the position for 10 years. Duffy says that her annual payment of some 5,000 pounds will be donated to the Poetry Society but added, jokingly, that she’s asked for her other compensation–about 600 bottles of sherry–to be paid up front. More seriously, Duffy said she was “humbled and honored” by the appointment and called it “a recognition of the great women poets we have writing now.”

Of Duffy, who has authored several collection of poetry as well as plays, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, “She is a truly brilliant modern poet who has stretched our imaginations by putting the whole range of human experiences into lines that capture the emotions perfectly.”

As poet laureate, a large part of Duffy’s responsibilities will be to write works commemorating royal events, something that Motion said to find very difficult–understandably.  I wonder if the position, which carries few formal responsibilities–would not be better served by focusing on ways to increase literacy rather than producing literary commemorations of significant events.

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