"...one auspicious and one dropping eye"

So, congrats to Carol Ann Duffy, I think.

To be honest, I'm not completely sure I'd want anyone to be poet laureate (A poet for royal occasions? Really? In this day and age? Oh dear...) and yet there is something pleasing about still having a position of cultural importance for a poet at all. Generally, I prefer the Scots title (and role) of Makar, currently held by Edwin Morgan: it seems somewhat more of the people without being too portentous or indeed pretentious. However, continuing the tradition of laureate is still hopeful, culturally. It still says something about valuing poetry and the arts, language, and people who explore the feeling and thinking world and that can only be good.

Which brings me to the sadder part - the death of U A Fanthorpe - with painful irony the day before the first female laureate was announced. Fanthorpe was a contender for laureate after Ted Hughes, albeit a somewhat reluctant one (she even wrote a poem advocating another poet, Peter Porter). Never flashy or glamorous, her writing was technically beautiful and often wryly funny. The poetry world will feel her loss keenly.

ATLAS (by U A Fanthorpe)

There is a kind of love called maintenance

Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it

Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;

Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists

And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds

The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living, which is Atlas.

And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.