Female Poet Laureate?!?

Found these articles this week on the poet laureate situation in England:

* “Call for female poet laureate,” by Gary Bills-Geddes from Ledbury Reporter

* “Pressure on Burnham over female poet,” from The First Post

* “Queen is asked to appoint first female Poet Laureate after 22 men in 340 years,” by Arifa Akbar from The Independent

Long story short: England has had 22 men poet laureates over a 340-year span without a single female. From John Dryden’s appointment in 1668 to Andrew Motion’s farewell this October, not one single woman poet has held the title of poet laureate. Understandably, this issue is causing a bit of an uproar across the Atlantic.

I mean, it took me less than one year to appoint my first female poet laureate on Poetic Asides: Sara Diane Doyle. That’s right! It took me less than 12 months to do something England still hasn’t been able to do in 340 years. One more reason why Poetic Asides rocks!

How many more 10-year tenures will be served in England before a female poet laureate is picked? My guess is that the noise on this issue will get so loud that Motion’s successor will be a female. That said, if I were putting odds on whether the next laureate will be male or female, I’d only make it 51-49 in favor of female. After all, the men of England have a 340-year winning streak going strong.

(Wow! I still can’t believe it’s been 340 years without a female poet laureate. Can you? It’s completely mind blowing.)

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11 thoughts on “Female Poet Laureate?!?

  1. Tonya Root

    So, I’m just wondering why most here seem to have automatically assumed that this is due to prejudice or gender bias? Couldn’t it just be because the fine males that have held this position were worthy?

    Just as our own Sara Diane Doyle is worthy, of course! 🙂

  2. Iain D. Kemp

    I trust Her Majesty will do as she feels fit. There is still something VERY special about being a subject rather than a citizen. (Which means its none of my business, nor yours!) God Save The Queen!

  3. Paige

    This is surprising to me, as they have had a female royal for a while and have had female prime minister. I would have thought, if I had given it thought, that surely there would have been a female poet laureate. Just goes to show how "men”tality still works. No offense to you Robert, nor any of you other forward and modern thinking gents.


  4. Carol A. Stephen

    On the brighter side, there are at least two female poet laureates of Canadian provinces…I can’t absolutely swear which provinces offhand, although Nova Scotia is one I do believe.


  5. maeve63

    As distrubing as this information is, I have to wonder now, if they do pick a woman next, will it be just because of the flack? Don’t get me wrong….I’m not saying that there are no women out there qualified. I’m just curious as to how many people might make such an arguement; making comments like, "She only got the job because they were getting so much grief over not having a woman in that position for so long." I feel sorry for the woman who may have to deal with defended her work in that manner.

  6. Lorraine Hart

    *sigh* I’m a Brit woman…who can remember her father stating that he, "bought his wife for two and a half shillings," being the price of a marriage license. He also didn’t believe in "wasting" the money on college for his daughters, once we immigrated to Canada…after all…we’d just get married into servitude like our mum. Thus began my feminism…come on Sara…let’s go take down those blokes!

  7. Don Swearingen

    Who might have qualified in that 340 year period? Christina Rossetti? Elizabeth Barrett Browning?
    Who now (I admit much ignorance of 20th and 21st century poetr, having found so much of it to be just splat.)?
    Regards. Swearingen

  8. Lisa M.

    Well now, there you go, Hillary–if Obama wins, there’s your fall-back plan. . . ("Hello, FedEx? USA has a package for you to pick up.")


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