Carol Ann Duffy was named Poet Laureate of Britain today, according to the New York Times. She’s the first female Poet Laureate to be named to this esteemed U.K. position held for centuries by men.
The Independent reports Duffy was considered 10 years ago but passed over for concern that “Middle England” may not be ready for an openly gay Poet Laureate.
In the Independent’s article “The Big Question: What’s the history of Poet Laureates, and does the job still mean anything?” Andy McSmith’s lite touch provides the first U.K. Poet Laureate (John Dryden appointed in 1668) and the worst (Alfred Austin appointed in 1896) and the best (Tennyson, who held the position for 42 years during Queen Victoria’s reign).
I checked the Library of Congress Laureate timeline to find out who was the first U.S. female Laureate – Louise Bogan. Our current Laureate is Kay Ryan.
Of note: The first African American Poet Laureate of the United States and the youngest to be named to the post is our own Rita Dove, from Akron,Ohio. She held the position from 1993 to 1995.
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