Carol Ann Duffy is Britain's first woman Poet Laureate

Carol Ann Duffy has become Britain's new Poet Laureate.

And, in keeping with politically correct modern Britain, she is the first female Poet Laureate.

She takes over from Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate since 1999.

The Poet Laureate is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Government and is tasked with writing poems to commemorate major state occasions and royal events.

Carol Ann Duffy, who is bisexual and is also the first Scot to be Poet Laureate, is the 20th person to hold the title of Poet Laureate. The first was John Dryden in 1668, though the first person to actually have this job (without the title) was Richard Canonicus in the 12th century.

The job of Poet Laureate is relatively low paid, Duffy confirmed that one of the perks of the job was a "butt of sack" – an old quantity of alcohol equivalent to around 600 bottles of sherry.

It used to be a job for life, until Tony Blair established a 10-year tenure in 1999.

Carol Ann Duffy named as first woman Poet Laureate

By Laura Williamson (external - login to view)
01st May 2009
Daily Mail

The new Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy arrives at the John Rylands Library in Manchester

Carol Ann Duffy confirmed that she is the new Poet Laureate today - the first female laureate in the post's 341-year history.

She was widely expected to take over the role and today confirmed she had accepted the job during an interview on BBC Radio 4.

Duffy said: 'I'm really thrilled to have it properly announced on Woman's Hour and here in Manchester.'

The Glasgow-born 53-year-old, who succeeds Andrew Motion, is also the first Scot to take the role.

Duffy told the programme she had thought 'long and hard' before saying she would take the job.

'I look on it as a recognition of the great woman poets we have writing now,' she said.

'I've decided to accept it for that reason.'

The 53-year-old is the latest in a line of poets which began with John Dryden and has included such great names as William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson and John Betjeman.

Other names being circulated for the £5,000-a-year job had included Simon Armitage, Roger McGough and Benjamin Zephaniah.

The laureate is officially appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Government and until Tony Blair established a 10-year tenure in 1999, was a job for life.

Part of the laureate's remit is to write poems to commemorate major state occasions and events involving the Royal Family - a task which Motion said he found extremely difficult.

Before the new appointment was made, the Government sought advice on a replacement from academics, poetry specialists, as well as the public.

The post had been for life until Motion became the 19th appointment in 1999, after the death of Ted Hughes, when it became a ten-year position.

The Poet Laureate is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Government and is tasked with writing poems to commemorate major state occasions and royal events.

Motion reportedly found this difficult, describing the role as 'thankless'.

Duffy has also expressed concern about writing about royalty, when she was in the running for the £5,000-a-year post in 1999.

Speaking of that year's wedding of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones she said: 'I will not write a poem for Edward and Sophie. No self-respecting poet should have to.'

It was also alleged that Tony Blair had doubts about the appointment of a bisexual laureate.

Duffy's poems are included on the National Curriculum's GCSE and A-Level syllabuses and in 2002 she was made a CBE.

She won the TS Eliot Poetry Prize in 2005, the Whitbread Poetry Award in 1993 and the Forward Poetry Prize in 1993.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said in a statement: 'I'd like to congratulate Carol Ann Duffy on her appointment as the first Poet Laureate of the 21st century and, of course, as the first woman to hold the post.

'Poetry as an art form has inspired, excited and comforted people of all ages and backgrounds for so many centuries and Carol Ann follows in a tradition set by some of the most distinguished writers in the English language.

'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 and I wish her well for her ten year term.'

Duffy is the author of numerous award-winning poetry collections, plays, and fairy tales and poetry for children.

Awarded an OBE in 1995 and a CBE in 2002 for services to poetry, she lives in Manchester where she is Creative Director of the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Valentine, by Carol Ann Duffy

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

************************************************** ***********


Richard Canonicus employed by Richard I (reigned 1189–99)
Gulielmus Peregrinus (d. c. 1207) employed by Richard I
Master Henry employed by Henry III (reigned 1216–72)
Andrew Baston
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1343–1400)

Geoffrey Chaucer was murdered in 1400

John Kay in the reign of Edward IV, 1461–83
Bernard André of Toulouse (1450–1522), author of Vita regis Henrici Septimi called himself Poet Laureate under Henry VII
John Skelton was the Poet Laureate under Henry VIII
Edmund Spenser, died in 1599
1599: Samuel Daniel
1619: Ben Jonson
1637: Sir William Davenant (godson of William Shakespeare)
1668: John Dryden (first to actually hold the title of Poet Laureate)
1688: Thomas Shadwell
1692: Nahum Tate
1715: Nicholas Rowe
1718: Reverend Laurence Eusden

Rev Laurence Eusden, Poet Laureate, 1718-1730, was just 30 when he took the job, the youngest ever Poet Laureate

1730: Colley Cibber
1757: William Whitehead, on the refusal of Thomas Gray
1785: Reverend Thomas Warton, on the refusal of William Mason
1790: Henry James Pye
1813: Robert Southey, on the refusal of Sir Walter Scott
1843: William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth was Poet Laureate between 1843 and 1850

1850: Alfred, Lord Tennyson, on the refusal of Samuel Russell
1896: Alfred Austin, on the refusal of William Morris
1913: Robert Bridges
1930: John Masefield, OM
1967: Cecil Day-Lewis, CBE
1972: Sir John Betjeman, CBE
1984: Ted Hughes, OM, on the refusal of Philip Larkin
1999: Andrew Motion
2009: Carol Ann Duffy, CBE
Last edited by Blackleaf; May 3rd, 2009 at 10:40 AM..
Canadian Poet Laureates

George Bowering - 2002 - 2004
Pauline Michel - 2004 - 2006
John Steffler - 2006 - 2008
Pierre DesRuisseaux - 2008 - Present

Our list may not be as lengthy and impressive as yours but I have been assured size does not matter.

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