Carol Ann Duffy was appointed poet laureate in 2009, the first woman to hold the post in its nearly 350-year history. She will attend the Tideswell Arts Festival to give a reading of a selection of her poetry, to talk a little bit about her life as a poet, and to sign copies of her work.
As Carol Ann says, there is no pressure for her to write on royal subjects, as nowadays there isn’t “any expectation that poets would write on command”. Instead, she covers a range of subjects. She has used the laureate’s stipend to set up the Ted Hughes award for innovation in poetry, and has actively supported a number of small festivals around the country.
With regard to her writing on becoming laureate, she says, “I wanted to continue to write as I always had, and I have tried very hard not to write a poem I previously wouldn’t have written. There always had been a public element to my work, particularly during the Thatcher years, and I think all poets, to a greater or lesser degree, need to have a finger on the national pulse. Poetry provides an important alternative voice to journalists or pundits or academics as a way of dealing with things that matter to us all. But, for me, it was about finding the moment when my interests and my voice ran parallel to something that could be seen as public.”
Carol Ann Duffy’s work covers many subjects, and her collections are numerous. Her writing has continued apace. “I can’t speak for anyone else,” she said in 2014., “But having five years of being able to highlight poets and poetry has been incredibly rewarding and I’m looking forward to the next five. As a vocational poet who has written poetry since childhood, and also being the first woman poet, I have found the experience energising. So far it has been nothing but a joy.”
For more information on Carol Ann Duffy, please see Nicholas Wroe’s Guardian interview from which much of the above text was taken.