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New Poet LaureateAfter 341 Years, British Poet Laureate Is a Woman

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#1 Ray


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Posted 04 May 2009 - 01:55 PM

Has this not been discussed yet?

After 341 Years, British Poet Laureate Is a Woman

Here's an excerpt from one of Carol Ann Duffy's poems, "Eurydice" from this link:


Girls, I was dead and down
in the Underworld, a shade,
a shadow of my former self, nowhen.
It was a place where language stopped,
a black full-stop, a black hole
where words had to come to an end
And end they did there,
last words,
famous or not.
It suited me down to the ground.
So imagine me there,
out of this world,
then picture my face in that place
of Eternal Repose,
in the one place you'd think a girl would be safe
from the kind of a man
who follows her round
writing poems
hovers about
while she reads them,
calls her his Muse,
and once sulked for a night and a day
because she remarked on his weakness for abstract noouns;
just picture my face
when I heard -
Ye Gods -
a familiar knock-knock-knock at Death's door.
Big O.
Larger than life.
With his lyre
and a poem to read with me as the prize.
Things were different back then.
For the men, verse-wise,
Big O, was the boy.
Legendary. The blurb
on the back of his books claimed
that animals,
aardvark to Zebra,
flocked to his side when he sang,
fish leapt from their waves
at the sound of his voice,
even the mute, sullen stones at his feet
wept wee silver tears.
Bollocks. Furthermore,
we've all, let's be honest,
been bored half to death by a man
who fucks like he's writing a book.
And, given my time all over again,
I know that I'd rather write for myself
than be dearest, beloved, dark lady, white goddess, etc. etc.
In fact, girls, I'd rather be dead.
But the Gods are like publishers -
usually male -
and what you doubtless know of my tale
is the deal......

#2 dirac


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Posted 04 May 2009 - 02:53 PM

Thanks for posting, Ray. I had meant to put something up but hadn't gotten around to it. Duffy seems a solid choice, a poet with popular and critical appeal. It's a tough role because as Andrew Motion points out in the article you linked to, the British press seem to enjoy kicking around the poet laureate's official efforts. Times have changed and it seems both poet and public are understandably less comfortable with the idea of nuzzling up to royalty in verse, although some great poetry in that vein was produced in centuries past.

Related story.

For her fans - and there are a lot - it will be justice at last. Ten years ago it was between Duffy and Motion and one Downing Street official intimated that it was the poet's sexuality that was the stumbling block. "Blair is worried about having a homosexual [sic] as poet laureate because of how it might play in middle England," the official told the Sunday Times.

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