"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
For more information about the books of Nicholas Murray
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Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Friday, 1 May 2009

Off with Their Heads or Advice to the New Poet Laureate

It's good news that Carol Ann Duffy is to be announced today as the new Poet Laureate, not because she ticks all sorts of boxes, but because she is a real poet.  The papers have been full of praise for Andrew Motion's distinguished ambassadorship for poetry during his stint (no one talks much about the poems) and he seems to have done exemplary service on boring committees, going on the stump, pressing the flesh etc., etc.  I know nothing about Carol Ann Duffy except her poetry which I have been reading since her Anvil days but I suspect she might be a little less the efficient bureaucrat and more the poet at large and I hope for a little discreet subversion.  Poets shouldn't be on message.

But most of all let us have no more bad poems on Royal occasions. Let us think of the Poet Laureate as a national poet, writing, if the spirit moves her, about important national themes.  There's nothing wrong with 'occasional verse' – any poet worth her salt should have the craft to handle that  – but there is no reason why even royalists (of whom I am not one) should expect a national poet to write silly poems about Windsor weddings.  Public and political poetry (think of Marvell's "Horatian Ode", for example) is an important and major genre.  I would like to see some more of it.

1 comment:

Jonathan Chatwin said...

This certainly seems to be as rich a time as any for the production of meaningful musings on how we got to where we are. Hopefully CAD will have less compulsion to make contributions to Radio 4 and more impulse to produce good poetry.