Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Pick a Poet Laureate - John Dougherty

Just came across this on the BBC website. Andrew Motion steps down as Poet Laureate next year, and - starting today - the public are to be encouraged to send in their suggestions for his successor.

I'm tempted to write in and suggest someone like my mate Adam, or maybe Jeff who lives in my road. Why not? They're both poets, and either would bring a distinct approach to the job. But as one vote for either of them isn't going to sway the Department for Culture, Media & Sport, there's probably not much point.

But what if the UK children's writing community decided to put forward a candidate that all - or at least most - of us agreed on, and agitated for that candidate? We've never before had a Poet Laureate who writes primarily for children, but wouldn't it be fun if we did?

So - who do you think we should choose? Michael Rosen will be stepping down as Children's Laureate next year; he might have got a taste for laureating. Or, can you imagine Paul Cookson presenting a new poem in honour of the Queen's birthday and getting the audience to join in with the sound effects? How about a Performance Poet Laureate - Benjamin Zephaniah would be an interesting choice, wouldn't he?

I'm afraid I don't seem able to add comments since Blogger changed how it's done - is it 'cos I is Mac? - but if you can, why not put forward your own suggestions. You never know - you could start a grassroots movement...


Anonymous said...

I is a Mac, too, to use your clever film quote, and I can usually manage it on here. Let's see.

Michael Rosen would be good, and so would Benjamin Zephaniah. You go and get the grass seeds.

Anonymous said...

I is Mac too.

Benjamin wouldn't touch it with a bargepole - remember how he turned down the OBE? Can't imagine he'd be anything laureate if it involved composing something for Royal occasions.

Don't know enough about children's poets apart from the obvious but I've always liked Kit Wright.

Still I'm quite keen for the laureate to be Carol Ann Duffy, who does write for children sometimes. Has there ever been a woman? Jackie Kay would be good too.

adele said...

Carol Ann Duffy would be good. If she'd do it. It seems like a bit of a thankless task. If we're talking poets who also write for children, then Kit Wright or Philip Gross whose Manifold Manor (now ridiculously out of print...what are they thinking???)would be good.

adele said...

That was an illiterate comment. Apologies. Should read: Philip Gross whose Manifold Manor....is one of the best poetry books of the last twenty years....apologies for leaving out the most important part of the comment.

Lucy Coats said...

I don't THINK there has ever been a woman Laureate. How about Wendy Cope? I would love to see her tartness and wit applied to Royal occasions. I totally agree about Kit Wright, Mary--a superb poet. Seamus Heaney is an Irishman, so probably does not qualify, which is sad. But for a left-field candidate, how about the exquisite Adrian Mitchell (our Shadow Laureate), who ought to have had it long ago.

Brian Keaney said...

'Be advised, my passport's green. No glass of ours was ever raised to toast The Queen.'
Seamus Heaney

Lucy Coats said...

Ah. I'd forgotten that one, Brian. Definitely out for Seamus then!

Anonymous said...

How about Jeremy Prynne? No one will be able to tell whether he has written about the queen or not :-)

Anonymous said...

I posted this before but it didn't come through - maybe Macs are cursed as John suggested?

Seamus Heaney and Wendy Cope have both said they would not stand.

Philip Gross is a wonderful and underrated writer, I agree, Adele.

Adraina Mitchell is a bit frail ... But what is a Shadow Laureate? It sounds wonderfully mysterious.

The Ginger Darlings said...

Carol Ann Dufy would be great, but at the end of the day who would want this thankless task?
There are so many wonderful, eloquent, poetic writers in the children's book world at the moment. Carol Ann's latest book, The Princess' Blankets is a shining example of a picture book for all ages.
But really, having to celebrate royal occasions with poetry?
I'm with Seamus Heaney on this one. Though I think a champion for poetry is good.
Pass On a Poem is a haven of peace in this busy world. Once a week, every week, a poem drops into my inbox and stills my day and widens my knowledge.

Lucy Coats said...

Mary--Adrian Mitchell is sometimes described as the 'Shadow Laureate'--rather like a Shadow Cabinet Minister, only in this case it is because he has deserved the job for a long time and never got it. Two more thoughts are the two James--Berry and Agard, both superb poets, and the latter a Smarties Prize winner.

Anonymous said...

Ah, not so romantic as I had thought.

I agree about the Jameses - though one is actually a John. Why do men have such boring names? We often sit down to celebration meals with three varieties of Stephen and two of Thomas.

Not that Mary is great - which is why husband, family and some friends use "Marushka"

Sorry to wander off topic. If Adrian (sorry about the wild mis-spelling last time - I was in Talia) would take it, it probably should be his but ten years ...

Lucy Coats said...

John Agard and James Berry--of course. I must have been having another day where my head was elsewhere. In the land of dreams, probably, which is where I am spending most of my time lately. Apologies.