Motion calls for poetry revival

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The Independent Online
ANDREW MOTION, the newPoet Laureate, has called for poetry to be revived in Britain's schools. Mr Motion, the Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, said he was troubled by children's lack of interest in verse, and blamed the lack of a "Bob Dylan" figure to inspire them.

At a meeting yesterday to outline his plans for the job of Laureate, he said one of his main priorities was to put poetry higher on the national agenda. Mr Motion said hischildren, Jesse, 12, and 11-year-old twins, Sidoine and Luke, went to good schools but spent little time on poetry.

"I think a lot of teachers find it difficult to teach. I think parents find it difficult to understand. I think children feel it has got nothing to do with them," he said. "Interest in it is declining. When I was at school 35 oddyears ago, the expectation was that people learnt poetry."

He said he would be talking to Chris Smith, the Secretary of State for Culture, and David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, about the issue.

It was Mr Motion's first public engagement since the announcement of his appointment was leaked from Downing Street last week. He was reported to be upset at being regarded as the "Establishment choice" and a "safe pair of hands".

Mr Motion said that he could not pinpoint a reason for the declining interest in poetry, but he did not think it was due to the influence of television.

He speculated that songwriters may have fired youngsters' interest in poetry and words in the Sixties and Seventies, and that no similar figures had emerged since then.