Right of Reply
A poet responds to our recent leading article on reforming the post of poet laureate
Monday 24 May 1999
Poetry itself has a pedigree and a dignity far greater than the laureateship, and should no longer be shackled to such an anachronism.
There is no reason why a crown of bays should only be awarded to one living poet at a time. In ancient Athens, for example, the competition for the best tragic poet was held annually. Let us have a new laureate elected periodically, say, every four years - taking the Olympics for a parallel - the choice to be made by a college of, say, 100 poets.
The prize would bring a stipend of pounds 20,000 a year, for life - since poets are poets for life. The candidates should perhaps be over 40: apart from exceptional youths like Keats and Rimbaud, a poet's worth is not often established until middle age. Even if all the laureates were unusually long-lived, it is unlikely there would be more than about a dozen of them at a time, at a total cost to the public purse of less than pounds 250,000 a year - a droplet in the ocean of opera funding!
The prize should undoubtedly be open to all poets writing in English, regardless of nationality, since all their work redounds to the credit of our chief export - the language.
The great benefit of this system is that it would provide a regular diet of literary jealousy and malice to keep poetry in the public eye.
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Three-year-old boy shoots pregnant mother and father in New Mexico
- 2 Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
- 3 Jewish community urged to boycott Cornwall village after residents vote for 'Hitlers Walk' sign to be reinstated
- 4 Benedict Cumberbatch's Alan Turing gay-rights campaign snubbed by Prince William and Kate Middleton
- 5 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Daniel Radcliffe deemed 'not marketable' without his English accent
Gorillaz Phase 4: Cartoon supergroup is back as new artwork is unveiled
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
As Better Call Saul launches, here are the other spin-off shows we need to see
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
Stephen Fry explains what he would say if he was 'confronted by God'
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
President Putin is a dangerous psychopath - reason is not going to work with him
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign