Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Carol Ann Duffy first woman Poet Laureate in 341 years

Further to last week's discussion about American women's literature, the good news is that after 341 years, a woman has been appointed Britain's poet laureate. The post has a 10-year term, an annual award of £5,750, and past holders have included Dryden, Tennyson, Wordsworth and Ted Hughes.

Ms. Duffy told the BBC radio program “Woman’s Hour” that she had thought hard about accepting the post and that the decision to take it came “purely because they hadn’t had a woman.”
Duffy defines herself as a "poet and mother" and has no interest in being reduced to any other labels that others may use to define her, including lesbian.

Judith Palmer, director of the Poetry Society, said Ms. Duffy had “paved the way for a whole generation of women poets who came after her,” including Deryn Rees-Jones, Jo Shapcott and Alice Oswald.

“The World’s Wife” is full of the rage of women disappointed, discarded or overlooked by men, like the wife of Quasimodo, who falls in love with him despite his deformities, only to have him turn savagely against her for her own physical failings. It has some very funny poems, too, like “Mrs Darwin”:

7 April 1852
Went to the Zoo
I said to him — Something about that chimpanzee over there
reminds me of you

Full article here.


Giovanni said...

The World's Wife is fantastic and worth the post all by itself.

Paul had a piece just the other day on why Duffy wasn't chosen back in 1998. (Spoiler: Tony Blair is a twerp).

katy said...

Thanks for the link! I find it very hard to believe that none of the previous poet laureates were gay...

sas said...

She will be paid £6000 annually for the honour (which she has already said she will use to set up some sort of fund for young people), plus the traditional 630 bottles of sherry!