Duffy poem pays tribute to gas and electric meters

Duffy poem pays tribute to gas and electric meters

Poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy is publishing a poem in tribute to gas and electric meters, as the next generation of new, digital technology is ushered in. 

The poem, intended to capture the "significant moment" of the UK's transition to "smart" meters, will be published in the next few months.

Traditional, mechanical meters have been a part of the British household for the past century, according to Duffy, planning to capture their "last whirs" before new digital meters replace them entirely by 2020.

She told BBC News "Gas and electricity meters have been a fixture under stairs and in cupboards for more than a hundred years so it felt fitting to preserve their place in household history with a poem.

"It is definitely one of my most unusual projects, but hopefully I'm able to produce a piece that captures the last whirs of these spinning machines before they make way for their digital counterparts," she said.

Duffy, born in Glasgow, was made made Britain's first-ever female poet laureate in 2009. She has been called on to write commemorative poems on a host of special occassions, on subjects as diverse as William and Kate's royal wedding, the deaths of WW1 soliders Henry Allingham and Harry Patch and the reinternment of Richard III. She also wrote a poem in 2010 dedicated to an injury sustained by David Beckham that forced him off the pitch ahead of the World Cup called Achilles.

The Royal Philharmonic orchestra played a three-minute requiem last November on instruments made from old analogue gas meters. A Requiem For Meters featured electric meter violins, cellos made from empty gas meters and a timpani drum made out of 18 gas meters welded together, to mark the new age of meters in British homes.

More than 3m smart meters have already been installed in the UK, with the target of installing a further 50m meters by 2020 in place.