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.
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.