Monitor: Picking poets - what the world's newspapers say about the next Laureate

POETRY IS part of our shared, communal life. From this perspective, designating a National Poetry Month might seem as absurd as having a month for Our Genetic Heritage. Yet it is a very good idea just the same. For poetry isn't only bodily, it is also civic. Poetry month and the posting of short poems on subway cars may violate some notion of the form's intimate quality. But the civic space is where language and makers live. In the 17th century, poets - some of them great ones - wrote poems flattering royalty and toadying up to rich, eminent patrons. That was part of the civic life of art, a part of the way that society held on to the art of poetry, thereby preserving it for the unborn.

- American Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, New York Times

POETRY IS the art most concerned with language. Maybe our most desperate and unacknowledged need is to open ourselves up to the clarity of truthful speech. This is the specific task of the poet, not an effete pastime but as part of the real world, in the street, at public gatherings and in the bedroom. This is why London Zoo and Marks & Spencer both now have "poets in residence." Ted Hughes wanted to spread the poetic word. Whoever succeeds him as Poet Laureate must carry on this task, becoming not so much a court poet, celebrating the narrow world of the Windsors, as an ambassador for poetry in the real world.

- Express

TONY BLAIR was urged yesterday to carry out a radical overhaul of the way the Poet Laureate is appointed. MPs said the "old-fashioned" selection process should be opened up to wider consultation so that the Queen's Poet became more of a People's Poet. Mr Blair has yet to turn his mind to the appointment of the new Poet Laureate, let alone consider the armchair procedures involved in it. He has little time these days to read books, and poetry may never have been high in his interests. When he was asked last year for his favourite poem about peace, Mr Blair instead came up with a folk song called "The Green Fields of France". Poets and publishers came up with at least a dozen names (of potential laureates). Some felt that someone as controversial as Tony Harrison would raise the profile of poetry; Carol Anne Duffy would be able to write wonderful poems to order; Douglas Dunn would excel for being a witty writer and feeling things strongly. Others suggested heavyweights such as Andrew Motion, partly because he would be the public figure for literature, or Seamus Heaney.

- Times

THE NEXT rank of candidates (after Seamus Heaney) suggested by weight of work or reputation - James Fenton, Geoffrey Hill, Tony Harrison, Craig Raine - all raise the difficulty of being unbiddable when the job depends on the doing of bidding. Will the next laureate carry a pager on which Alastair Campbell flashes approved metaphors and meters? If so, Fenton, though otherwise supremely eligible, is not the man. The perfect title for a collection of his work would be Off Message. (Tony Harrison's) range of subjects - unemployment, the futility of the Gulf War - may be regarded as rather Old Labour. There is no poet who fits Blairism as naturally as Hughes and Larkin fitted Thatcherism.

- Guardian

A (SCOTTISH) version of the laureate? Why not. The heirs of the Scottish Renaissance are still with us. And there is a younger generation which has brought a fresh eye to the Scottish scene. Their Scottishness ranges, as Edwin Morgan puts it "from the rabid to the near-invisible" They live in the real world. If you wanted a poet to put us properly in our place, who better than Liz Lochhead? She has already given us her version of Scotland in Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off: "Ah dinna ken whit like your Scotland is. Here's mines. National flower: the thistle. National pastime: nostalgia. National weather: smirr, haar, drizzle, snow. National bird: the crow, the corbie, le corbeau, moi!"

- Magnus Linklater, Scotsman

Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'