The honorary Royal post of Poet Laureate is awarded to a poet whose work is considered to be of national significance. The appointment is made by The Queen, who acts on the advice of Ministers.
Andrew Motion steps down from the post on 1 May 2009. He has been Poet Laureate since 1999, following the death of Ted Hughes in 1998, and was the first poet to be appointed to the Laureateship for a fixed ten-year term. Andrew Motion was editor of the Poetry Society’s journal, Poetry Review from 1982 to 1983; he is now an honorary member of the Poetry Society.
The Poet Laureateship has no precise job description and cannot be applied for. No. 10, Cabinet Office and DCMS have been working with the Royal Household to prepare for the appointment of Andrew Motion’s successor. The Department for Culture Media and Sport conducted a consultation process, involving academics and literary organisations (including the Poetry Society) from across the UK and Commonwealth. The DCMS put their recommendations to No. 10. The Prime Minister will then submit a name for approval by The Queen. It is the government’s intention to announce the new appointment towards the end of April 2009.
The Poet Laureate’s original salary was £200 per year plus a butt of canary wine. John Betjeman had the tradition revived in 1972, and today’s Poet Laureate continues to receive a barrel of sherry. The DCMS supports the Laureateship by funding an annual honorarium of around £5750. (Andrew Motion also received an additional £19,000 per year from the Department for Children, Schools and Families to support his work in education - this will not transfer automatically to the next Poet Laureate.)
On 14 April 2009, the DCMS confirmed that a name was understood to have gone forward to No. 10. The poet in question is not believed to know their name has been selected. The next Poet Laureate will also be appointed for a fixed ten-year term.
On 23 April 2009, the DCMS advised that an announcement was likely towards the end of the week commencing 27 April.
On 27 April 2009 Carol Ann Duffy was the firm favourite to be the next Poet Laureate. Back in 1983 Carol Ann was a relatively unknown poet who won the National Poetry Competition with her her poem 'Whoever She Was' and the rest as they say is history....
William Hill's best bets for who will be the next Poet Laureate
Do you know your Pye from your Bridges and your Dryden from your D'Avenant? Take the Poetry Society Poet Laureate Quiz here!
Andrew Motion signing his butt of sherry in 2003
Ted Hughes' vat of sherry signed by the poet in 1986