Carol Ann Duffy Selected as UK Poet Laureate

May 3, 2009

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 01:  Carol Ann Duffy...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Poet Carol Ann Duffy was nominated for UK Poet Laureate yesterday. Here’s what she had to say about the position, which she had previously poo-poohed:

The appointment of a poet laureate can be seen, quite simply, as a spotlight on the vocation of poetry. I feel privileged to be part of a generation of poets in Britain who serve the vocation of poetry; writers who – in glad company with their readers – regard poetry as the place in language where everything that can be praised is praised, and where what needs to be called into question is so. Perhaps a better word than generation, for our community of poets, readers and listeners, would be family – or, as Ted Hughes had it, tribe. Doris Lessing, too, once described herself as a member of the honourable tribe of storytellers.

Read her remarks in full here.

Here is her poem, “Valentine”:

Not a red rose or a satin heart.
I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

–Carol Ann Duffy
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