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U.K. Expected to Appoint Its First Woman Poet Laureate

Daily News

Online Only, posted 4.27.09

Carol Ann Duffy has been nominated for appointment by Queen Elizabeth as the next poet laureate of Great Britain, the Independent reported. If confirmed by the Queen, Duffy would be the first woman and the first openly gay writer to hold the post. She would succeed Andrew Motion, whose ten-year term ends this month.

After having been turned down for the position ten years ago, when former prime minister Tony Blair declared her sexuality a potential point of contention for some citizens, Duffy was selected this month through a process that included the public weighing in on the decision. Duffy’s appointment would be widely celebrated, according to Poetry Society director Judith Palmer, who said that a campaign for a woman poet laureate has been long running.

Motion, who has called the job "incredibly difficult and entirely thankless," expressed support of Duffy’s appointment. "I would be profoundly pleased if Carol was to take on the role as I think she would be magnificently good at it, " Motion told the Independent. "She's an absolutely wonderful writer and I think that because no woman has had the role, having Carol would give the whole thing a great glamour and appeal."

The responsibilities of the post include writing works commissioned to celebrate royal events such as weddings and anniversaries.

Duffy would join a list of poets laureate that includes William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Robert Bridges, and Ted Hughes. Traditionally, the post is held for life, a convention broken by Motion, who limited his term to ten years, but Duffy’s tenure has not yet been determined.

Duffy’s most recent book of poetry is Rapture (Picador, 2005). Winner of the Whitbread Poetry Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the T. S. Eliot Prize, among others, she has also written a number of children’s books and libretti. She teaches at Manchester Metropolitan University.

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