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Public consulted about U.K. poet laureate

The search for the next U.K. poet laureate — Andrew Motion‘s successor — began today, with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport inviting the public to make suggestions for who the next versifier should be.

From the Guardian:

This is the first time the public has been consulted about the poet laureateship. Although the DCMS has said there would be no official public vote, this appeal does seem to make it more likely that the next laureate will be a more obviously populist choice than Motion.

“It’s true there would be an opportunity to appoint someone who is remote, shamanistic and lives on the top of a mountain,” said Motion. “There would be the chance to appoint someone who cranks the handle regularly and turns out poems that are more closely aligned to ditties than perhaps they have been in the past, but my hunch is, and my support would go to, the choice of someone who is able to move fairly fluently between the high ground and more populist things.”

The criteria state that the incumbent’s work must be of “national significance”.

So far, no suggestions have come in, save for one from John Worthingham of Wimpole Street, who nominated his pet cat Chauncey, and was thus disqualifed.

(Speaking of ditties, national “significance,” and public suggestions, this Quillblogger just had a disturbing vision of Ali G., the Spice Girls, and Monty Python all with their hats in the ring.)

Motion got the job in May 1999, and in his ten years as laureate has written poems for the 100th birthday and death of the Queen Mother, and founded the Poetry Archive — an online collection of poets reading their work.