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Interview with a Poet Laureate


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If you can get video from the BBC website then I urge you to watch this five minute interview with Sir Andrew Motion - Sir Andrew Motion talks to Matthew Stadlen about how he started writing poetry, the importance of rhyme in a poem, writing his first novel and what it was like to be Poet Laureate.

I especially like his answer to the question: what is the difference between poems and prose? "generally, prose goes to the edge of the page and poems don't." :smile:


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Thanks for this, Camy.

A nice description of the source of his poetry from the Poetry Archive:

"My poems are the product of a relationship between a side of my mind which is conscious, alert, educated, and manipulative, and a side which is as murky as a primaeval swamp."

Philip Larkin, who turned down the Laureate gig and was the subject of a Motion biography famously said he was likable, but not tough enough in his writing. I'm not sure that was an accurate description.

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The role of poet laureate in the United States is quite ambiguous, and people seldom pay attention to anything they say. The job, unlike England's, does not even merit the small cask of dry wine and no wreath is bestowed. It's a position largely misunderstood and it has no official status in our government. Billy Collins, (laureate from 2001 - 2003) was once asked by a high school student "How many people would have to die for you to become President?" Except for delivering an annual reading and lecture there is no obligation to write. American poets laureate invent their own "duties"; some, like Ted Kooser, Rita Dove, Robert Hass, and Billy Collins have reached out to popularize poetry with programs in the schools and in the media, but Joseph Brodsky's plan to place books of poetry in motels and supermarkets unfortunately never came to pass.

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