Advisory panel selected for new UK Poet Laureate
The process of selecting the UK’s next Poet Laureate has begun with the appointment of a new advisory panel, Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, announced on 3 November.
The panel, made up of experts from across the regions and nations of the UK, includes the founder of the Bradford Literature Festival and the organiser of a showcase event with the Jamaican Poet Laureate.
The next Poet Laureate will take over from Dame Carol Ann Duffy, who was appointed in 2009, and was the first woman and first Scot to take up the post.
Representatives from the British Council, Arts Council England and Arts Council Northern Ireland, Royal Society of Literature, Scottish Poetry Library, Literature Wales, The Poetry Society, Forward Arts Foundation, British Library and Poetry Book Society are also included in the panel.
The news comes as the Government announces the relaunch of the National Poetry Competition in schools from September next year. The competition will give young people a chance to discover more about the UK’s rich literary heritage and experience the joy that comes from learning a poem.
Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:
Poetry has the power to connect us to people, places and ideas. It also cuts across social and cultural divides. The important role of Poet Laureate helps to record key moments in British history and celebrates our rich literary tradition.
I pay tribute to Dame Carol Ann Duffy for her dedicated service in championing poetry to the nation. I look forward to working with a new advisory panel, that reflects the whole of the UK and the new ways we consume poetry, in electing her successor.
Nick Gibb, Minister for School Standards, said:
We hope that relaunching the National Poetry Competition will inspire children to read and write poetry and learn from the way the best poets use language.
Our focus on phonics in primary schools is helping more young children open up the joys of the written and spoken word, with 163,000 more six-year-olds on track to be fluent readers than in 2012. This means the world of poetry has never been more accessible to young people.
Since the role of Poet Laureate was established in 1668, incumbents have included William Wordsworth, Ted Hughes and Sir John Betjeman.
Dame Duffy has spent much of her tenure boosting the national conversation about poetry, carrying out a range of visits to schools and festivals, and launching the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, which seeks to recognise excellence in poetry, highlighting outstanding contributions made by poets to our cultural life.
A formal announcement is expected to be made in May 2019. The role will be for a ten year period.
Membership of the Poet Laureate Steering Group:
- Alex Higgs, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Chair)
- Sarah Crown, Director of Literature, Arts Council England
- Cortina Butler, Director of Literature, British Council
- Molly Rosenberg, Director, Royal Society of Literature
- Judith Palmer, Director, The Poetry Society
- Sophie O’Neill, Managing Director, Poetry Book Society
- Nicola Solomon, CEO, Society of Authors
- Susannah Herbert, Executive Director, Forward Arts Foundation
- Chloe Garner, Artistic Director, Ledbury Poetry Festival
- Jamie Andrews, Head of Culture and Learning, British Library
- Lleucu Siencyn, Chief Executive, Literature Wales
- Syima Aslam, Director, Bradford Literature Festival
- Chris Gribble, Chief Executive, National Centre for Writing
- Asif Khan, Director, Scottish Poetry Library
- Damian Smyth, Head of Drama and Literature, Arts Council Northern Ireland