Britain gets first woman poet laureate

May 2nd, 2009 - 12:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown London, May 2 (IANS) Britain got its first woman poet laureate in Carol Ann Duffy. The 53-year-old is the latest to the post held by poets like Dryden, Tennyson, Wordsworth and Ted Hughes.
Duffy is known for writing witty poems on a wide range of topics, many of them to do with everyday life. She succeeds Andrew Motion, who has just completed a 10-year term.

Poet laureates originally were meant to serve as courtiers, writing odes to significant royal occasions like birthdays and coronations. The post has evolved over time, and Motion has been credited with bringing poetry into schools and to start the Poetry Archive, a compendium of poets reading their work aloud, writes the New York Times.

The culture secretary, Andy Burnham, described Duffy Friday as “a towering figure in English literature today and a superb poet”. Prime Minister Gordon Brown was quoted as saying, “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.”

Motion had complained that he found writing royal poems wearisome. A decade ago, when he got the laureateship, Duffy was quoted as saying “I will not write a poem for Edward and Sophie. No self-respecting poet should have to” - a reference to the marriage of Prince Edward, the Queen’s youngest son, and Sophie Rhys-Jones, which Motion had been obliged to commemorate in poetry.

On getting the honour, Duffy said that she hoped “to contribute to people’s understanding of what poetry can do, and where it can be found”.

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