So, Simon Armitage is to become the next Poet Laureate. A Yorkshireman following in the footsteps of Ted Hughes and Alfred Austin (who?!); the three Laureates since Wordsworth (a Cumbrian, obviously) to hail from the county.
Well that’s the next ten years taken up, then. Which means they should be short-listing in about eight or nine, I suppose. You can get a lot done in such a period of time…
Over the years, the Laureate’s role has retreated from having to write about royal births/deaths/marriages to being more about ‘the people’, ‘the country’. In one respect I suppose you could say it had become a more ‘political’ role (with a very small ‘p’), and given the way these things tend to go, there’s probably no reason to assume this trend shouldn’t continue.
So in nine years’ time they’ll be looking for someone with a bigger ‘p’ (as it were); someone who can ‘tweet’ probably, who’s a bit of a social media star. We’ll still probably be politically correct – or even more so – which is likely to mean that they (whoever ‘they’ are) will be looking for a person of colour and probably a woman.
Which is, of course, fine – but that doesn’t bode very well for my chances. There are a number of those criteria I fail to meet spectacularly, including the tweeting-media stuff. And you might want to argue that my work isn’t of the requisite standard too, of course, but that’s a more difficult judgement call and one I’d happily debate with you over a pint. I do live in Yorkshire which, I hope, is at least half a mark.
The bottom line, though, is that all this is actually bad news for you. If I’m going to stand any chance of succeeding Armitage, I’m going to have to start churning out stuff at double the rate. Tin hats for everyone!
Haiku for the Laureate
now top of the poet-tree.
Ten years – then it’s me!!
I thank you.