Carol Ann Duffy is new poet laureate
Carol Ann Duffy is the new poet laureate across the water, the first woman to occupy the post famously scorned by Wendy Cope earlier this year. Course the yearly stipend is not to be sniffed at - £5,750 Sterling for a few verses on royal births and coronations, no small sum in these troubled times. Then there are the 600 bottles of sherry traditionally bestowed on the poet laureate, which Duffy has reportedy requested up front, after learning that her predecessor Andrew Motion (the first poet laureate to resign the post) had yet to receive his. The question is whether any writer should be beholden to the king or state, under obligation to trot out poems for occasions regardless of muse or inspiration, and presumably only those that toe the state line.
It must be said that Carol Ann Duffy is not a woman famed for line-toeing, though her poems have been taught widely and included on the English school syllabus for years. She’s a polished performer with a sharp wit (I saw her read at Seamus Heaney’s birthday tribute during the Poetry Now festival this year, and at Cuirt last weekend), and has been quoted as saying that she accepted the position of poet laureate because “they hadn’t had a woman” and “as recognition for the great women poets we now have writing.”
Was she right to accept? Does Britain need a poet laureate? Should we have some state-sponsored equivalent over here? Does anyone care?