Great expectations for Duffy

<p>The formal announcement has just been made by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham in Manchester, where 53-year-old Duffy works as a professor of contemporary poetry.</p>
<p>Duffy is the 20th poet laureate, following the likes of Betjeman, Hughes and Andrew Motion, who stepped down on Thursday (30th April). Motion drastically redefined the laureate role, using it to set up initiatives such as the Poetry Archive, an online collection of recordings of poets reading their own work. There is great expectation for Duffy to continue reforming the laureateship; in fact she has already started, requesting her annual stipend of &pound;5,750 to go directly to the Poetry Society to fund an annual prize for the best first collection.</p>
<p>Duffy has publicly expressed concern about writing the traditional royal poems. In 1999, after the marriage of Prince Edward to Sophie Rhys-Jones she was reported saying she would never write a poem about it, &quot;no self-respecting poet should have to&quot;.</p>
<p>Where royal poems fit with the new laureate will not be the only topic of debate. Whispers will likely start that she edged ahead of joint favourite Simon Armitage because the Department for Culture, Media and Sport wanted to modernise the role. Then there&rsquo;s the political angle, that the government is trying to make up for Blair&rsquo;s blunder in 1999 when she was allegedly ruled out due to concerns her sexuality would not play well in middle England.</p>
<p>We mustn&rsquo;t forget amid all the rumours that this is about the place and future of poetry in our society. At his step-down address on Tuesday, Motion said if he could ask one thing of his successor it would be for them to continue the work he started in the education sector. He said: &quot;There is a very, very, very long road ahead, I hope whoever comes after me will persevere.&quot;</p>
<p>There are few as well versed as Carol Ann, if you will excuse the pun, to take Motion&rsquo;s educational legacy forward. She is a teacher herself, author and editor of more than 30 collections, has written children&rsquo;s books, radios, stage plays and been a stable part of the GCSE syllabus for 15 years.</p>
<p>Her response to AQA removing her poem &quot;Education for Leisure&quot; from the syllabus last year because of concerns it glorified knife crime, was to pen one about stabbings in Shakespeare&rsquo;s plays. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p>
<p>Such a level but gritty attitude is exactly what poetry needs right now. So it&rsquo;s particularly fitting to end with that poem's last line, the acknowledgement on everyone&rsquo;s lips: Carol Ann, &quot;You may begin&quot;.</p>