Britain’s new poet laureate
Carol Ann Duffy has been elected Britain’s poet laureate. Duffy, fifty-three, is the country’s first female poet laureate, and also the first Scottish person to hold the title.
Duffy replaces Andrew Motion, the first poet laureate to have a ten-year tenure. Prior to Motion, the poet laureate held the position until his death. Previous poet laureates include John Dryden, William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Cecil Day-Lewis, John Betjeman and Ted Hughes, who was Motion’s predecessor in the post. Duffy was considered, but passed over, for the title after Hughes’s death.
Duffy has published seven collections of poetry, including Standing Female Nude (1985), The World’s Wife (1999), Feminine Gospels (2002) and Rapture (2005), which won the T.S. Eliot Prize. She was awarded an OBE in 1995 and a CBE in 2002. Her poetry has also received the Dylan Thomas Award, the Whitbread Poetry Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award and the Forward Prize. In addition to poetry, Duffy is a playwright and author of children’s books. She is creative director of the writing school at Manchester Metropolitan University. Duffy’s poetry has been unusually successful in attracting both a wide audience and considerable critical acclaim.
The appointment of poet laureate is made by Queen Elizabeth, on the advice of the government. The formal announcement will be made by Andy Burnham, secretary of state for culture, media and sport at the University of Manchester. In an announcement, Gordon Brown heralded Duffy as ‘a truly brilliant modern poet who has stretched our imaginations by putting the whole range of human experiences into lines that capture emotions perfectly’.
Duffy’s poem ‘The Woman in the Moon’ was published in Granta 103. Andrew Motion is also a Granta contributor – his essay ‘Breaking In’, about Philip Larkin’s secret Northumberland hideaway, was published in Granta 41: ‘Biography’.