This article is from 2006.
The post of Poet Laureate is one which tends to putter away in the background of most people’s lives even though legendary figures such as John Betjeman and Lord Tennyson have been bestowed with that title. Current PL, Andrew Motion, succeeded in getting his job onto the front pages of the papers in 2003 when he penned ‘On the Record’, described by the author as ‘a kind of rap’ to commemorate the 21st birthday of Prince William. If the press coverage and the web debate were anything to go by, it might appear that Wills himself was the only person in the country to like it. With the opening gambit of ‘Better stand back/Here’s an age attack/But the second in line/Is dealing with it fine’ you can see what the fuss might have been about.
Perhaps Motion should have stuck to the type of work which he had produced to get the job in the first place. The Essex boy taught English at Hull University, has edited the Poetry Review, scooped the Somerset Maugham Award and won the Whitbread Biography prize in 1994 for his work about Philip Larkin. Despite the negative reaction to his Laureateship, which was announced for a ten-year period in 1999, he did stick his head above the parapet with a poem against the invasion of Iraq entitled ‘Regime Change.’
22 Aug (Amnesty International Imprisoned Writers Series), 5.30pm, free tickets; 23 Aug, 11.30am, £7 (£5).