Between the lines: Andrew Motion’s advice to the next poet laureate

“Be warned. If you interpret the job as I have done – that being poet laureate means not just writing poems but trying to champion poetry – you will find there is an unimaginable difference between leading a relatively private life and the public life suddenly required of you.”

Andrew Motion speaks to Charlotte Higgins here.

Read The Guardian article, ‘Poet sought for job quite fraught. Critics may make merry; at least the pay is sherry’, by Mark Brown here.

Browse through The Poetry Archive.

6 thoughts on “Between the lines: Andrew Motion’s advice to the next poet laureate

  1. Sue Guiney

    Yes, I just read an article about choosing the new poet laureate in the Guardian, and it quoted this statement. It is a horrible job. Imagine having to write all those poems that you know will be awful and that you couldn’t possibly ever want to write unless you were forced to. It’s worse than being in grammar school!

  2. Michelle Post author

    Yes, I think it must be awful, Sue. Imagine having to write odes about the royal family!

  3. sally evans

    well I think it is a good position for the right person. (it is a position rather than a job of course). if the Royal family want poems they could have them without so much publicity – I thought it was really sad that the Queen didnt really like the memorial Andrew M wrote for the Queen Mother, and took confort in a sentimental alternative for her own use. Andrew was (presumably) trying to please the literate public as well as the Queen & it wasnt possible to do both.

  4. Michelle Post author

    Hi SallyE. You’re right, you can’t please all the people all the time. I imagine it might be a good position for the right person, but pretty thankless and time consuming nevertheless. I do think Andrew Motion has done great work with the Poetry Archive.

  5. Christine

    It might be sort of fun, though, or wicked, to write poems that were flattering or banal on the outside, but with arcane references to the bizarre habits of unwitting dignitaries, kind of like what Goya did in his paintings of the Hapsburgs.

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