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Carol Ann Duffy named British Poet Laureate…finally!

It only took 10 years from the time English poet Carol Ann Duffy’s name was first circulated as a potential national poet laureate for her to actually be named to the post. But in terms of the greater anti-chauvinist, pro-feminist struggle, it was more like three and a half centuries — 341 years, to be exact, since Britain first selected a poet laureate as an official royal position in John Dryden (Ben Jonson was the first unofficial one).

This was not Duffy’s first go-round at the laureate dance. From her Contemporary Authors biography in BioRC:

Duffy was seriously considered for the position of poet laureate in Britain in 1999. Prime Minister Tony Blair’s administration had wanted a poet laureate who exemplified the new “Cool Britannia,” not an establishment figure, and Duffy was certainly anything but establishment. She is the Scottish-born lesbian daughter of two Glasgow working-class radicals. Her partner is another poet, a black woman, and the two of them are raising a child together. Duffy has a strong following among young Britons, partially as a result of her poetry collection Mean Time being included in Britain’s A-level curriculum, but Blair was worried about how “middle England” would react to a lesbian poet laureate. There were also concerns in the administration about what Britain’s notorious tabloids would write about her sexuality, and about comments that Duffy had made urging an updated role for the poet laureate. In the end, Blair opted for the safe choice and named Andrew Motion to the post.

We have two other biographies on Duffy, as well as many on other British, American, and any-other-country-that-happens-to-have-them poet laureates.  Check em out.

Source: “Carol Ann Duffy.” Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2009.

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Posted on: May 4, 2009, 10:36 am Category: Factoids Tagged with: , , ,

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