Poetry is an expression of the soul. I think we can all agree with that fact, and one of our greatest institutions in Britain has been the position of Poet Laurete. I mean, what is cooler than a National Poet? Even though historically it was to proclaim and celebrate royal events, it has become a way for the nation to express itself.
Today the third such person of this role of my life time was announced. I have always thought that the Prime Minister or President you were born under defines your life in some way (Thatcher and Reagan- two reasons to fight the establishment in whatever way you can.) I think that is also true of whichever P.L. you were born under. The holder of the chair when I entered in 1982 was Ted Hughes. He might not have been the greatest husband, but I am also sure that living with Slyvia Plath wasn't sunshine everyday. He was a great poet; he reflected Britain and Britain needed him. As a teacher I appreciate the work he did to establish a Children's Laurete.
The next person to take this position was Andrew Motion. He was modern, he was interesting but the biggest problem was he was unknown outside of the world of poetry and publishing. Don't get me wrong, I liked the work he did but he was a quiet Englishmen in a time when British poetry was being dominated by people like Benjamin Zephaniah. The greatest thing he did was to set an end to his term, to turn the job from a lifetime role to a set amount of years- perfect for the ever changing nature of the world.
Today Carol Ann Duffy stepped into the role. Anyone who did their GCSEs and A Levels in the last 15 years will know her and that alone is a perfect reason to choose her. She is modern (writing updated versions of fairytales and rap poems). She is electic (a writer of children's books). She is a she. Apparently 10 years ago her name was mentioned but it was decided Britain wasn't ready for a women ( a fact I bulk at seeing that two years before Hughes passed and therefore passed his role to Motion Britain was defined by the legacy of one woman whose image was worldwide- Diana- it would have made perfect sense to give the people a female voice.) We have been overdue this step. we in Britian as word readers and word teachers are still stuck in a long hang over of Dead White Men (tm) when the world has moved on: Appartheid has ended, Britain and Germany have both had female leaders, America now has a black President...Britain has a female poetic voice. I actually means a lot.