Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Andrew Motion on Retiring from the Laureate Post

At The Guardian: an editorial from Andrew Motion on his eminent retirement from the post of British Poet Laureate. He writes, "As I say, in this respect nothing much seems to have changed in the past 10 years. But even as I repeat that, it feels not quite right. Why? Because even if the press doesn't always reflect it, the mood within the poetry-writing and reading community itself feels different these days. It's difficult to be precise about this change, but my sense is that we have learned to live with the variety of poetry being written in the country more happily than we used to do. The old sense of "them" and "us", establishment and avant-garde, London and regions, has matured into a curiosity that is willing to cross old boundaries. The health and diversity of creative writing programmes has helped to make this happen; so has the rise of non-metropolitan and internet poetry publishers; so has the work of interested parties such as the Arts Council and the Poetry Society. But it doesn't mean we can now settle back and congratulate ourselves on reaching the end of a difficult road. Once upon a time the challenge was to learn tolerance. Now it's to develop more appropriate sorts of critical language and expectation for particular kinds of work. We want to live in a culture where everything is welcome, but not in one where anything goes."

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