Thursday, February 26, 2009

Poet Laureate: does poetry need one?
As Andrew Motion reaches the end of his ten-year tenure, Rupert Christiansen debates who should represent the nation next and what they should stand for - if anyone cares.

By Rupert Christiansen writing in The Telegraph, 25 Feb 2009

"Flag-waver" for poetry: Andrew Motion will soon reach the end of his ten-year tenure Photo: DAVID ROSE

Like the awfulness of our National Anthem, the futility of the post of Poet Laureate is one of those running sores in our national culture which seem beyond healing. Every time the matter is aired, there's a consensus that something ought to be done about it, and every time – because we ultimately prefer the comfortable slippers of tradition to the red cap of revolution – nothing ends up being done at all.

And now the debate resurfaces, as Andrew Motion reaches the end of his ten-year tenure, and a successor will be announced soon, through royal decree prompted by some mysterious cabal of Whitehall mandarins. Should the honour pass to a woman or someone of, er, diverse background? What's the point, and does anyone care?

Andrew Motion has tried tremendously hard to liven the thing up and make it matter. He will surely get a gong and be remembered as one of the busier and better members of the line. He has, in his own words, been "a kind of flag-waver, bunting hanger-up, drum-beater, you name it, for poetry", sitting on committees, making public appearances, talking in schools, inaugurating an online poetry archive, and promoting the classics and the Bible in the educational curriculum.

But despite his invigorating zeal, the function of Poet Laureate remains primarily that of a royal courtier, judged by the public on the grounds of the bowing and scraping he produces for state events – in particular, his response to birthdays, marriages and funerals.
Read the full piece online.
And from The Guardian - Duffy is hottest tip for poet laureate.

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