Friday, May 23, 2008

Queen is asked to appoint first female Poet Laureate after 22 men in 340 years

By Arifa Akbar, Arts Correspondent for The Independent from where this excerpt is taken.

Pic left by Chris Watt in The Independent shows poet Jackie Kay,one of those mentioned in the following story.

Ever since the Royal household crowned John Dryden as the first Poet Laureate in 1668, the honour has been bestowed on men of letters from William Wordsworth to Ted Hughes. No woman has ever held the position.
But now, organisers of one of the most significant poetry festivals have decided that the wait for a female laureate has been long enough. Chloe Garner, director of the Ledbury Poetry Festival, has made an impassioned call for the appointment of a female poet laureate to redress the imbalance in the 22 male laureates chosen over three centuries.
Yesterday, Ms Garner wrote a letter to the Queen, Gordon Brown, the Tory leader David Cameron, and the Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, in which she calls for the appointment of a female poet laureate when the position falls vacant next year. She is to launch a campaign urging the appointment of a woman to the role in July, to coincide with the opening of the festival.Read the full story in The Indepedent.

Poet Laureate: the female runners and riders - here is Arifa Akbar's list:
Carol Ann Duffy
Duffy, 52, was born in Glasgow and read philosophy at Liverpool University. As well as verse (her key works include 1985's Standing Female Nude and 1987's Selling Manhattan) she also writes picture books for children, and is a popular playwright. She was awarded an OBE in 1995, a CBE in 2001 and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999. She was put forward to become Poet Laureate the same year, but lost out to Andrew Motion.
Wendy Cope
Born in Erith, Kent, 62-year-old Cope read History at St Hilda's College, Oxford, before training as a teacher. She was television critic for The Spectator magazine until 1990, and three books of her poetry have been published (Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis in 1986, Serious Concerns in 1992 and If I Don't Know in 2001). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in Winchesters. In 1998 she was the listeners' choice in a BBC Radio 4 poll on who should succeed Ted Hughes as Poet Laureate.
Lavinia Greenlaw
Born in 1962, Greenlaw read Modern Arts at Kingston Polytechnic, studied Publishing at the London College of Printing and has an MA in Art History from the Courtauld Institute. Her published poetry includes the collections Night Photograph (1993), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award and Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year), and A World Where News Travelled Slowly (1997).
Jackie Kay
Mixed-race Kay was born in Edinburgh in 1961 to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father but was adopted by a white couple at birth and brought up in Glasgow. She studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and Stirling University where she read English. The experience of being adopted by and growing up with a white family inspired her first collection of poetry, The Adoption Papers (1991). Her first novel, Trumpet, published in 1998, was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize. Kay lives in Manchester, and in 2006, was awarded an MBE for services to literature.
Fleur Adcock
The 74-year-old Adcock was born in Auckland, New Zealand but spent much of her childhood, including the war years, in England. She studied Classics at Victoria University in Wellington. She was awarded an OBE in 1996. A collected edition of Adcock's poetry, Poems 1960-2000, was published in 2000, and she is a regular contributor to, as well as editor and translator of, poetry anthologies. She was awarded the prestigious Queen's Medal for Poetry in 2006.
Ruth Padel
Padel, 62 is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been Chair of the UK Poetry Society since 2003. She is also the great great grand-daughter of Charles Darwin. She wrote her PhD on Greek tragedy at Oxford University. When her first pamphlet of poems was published, she left academia and wrote features and reviews for a number of newspapers including The Independent. She is a Fellow of the London Zoological Society, and a Member of the Royal Geographical Society.

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