Poet Laureate
Overview
 
A poet laureate is a poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

 officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events. The term dates back to the appointment of Bernard André
Bernard André
Bernard André , also known as Andreas, was a French Augustinian poet, a chronicler of the reign of Henry VII of England, and poet laureate. A native of Toulouse, he was tutor to Prince Arthur, and probably had a share in the education of the future Henry VIII. He was also a tutor at Oxford, and...

 by Henry VII of England
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

, though analogous appointments date back to ancient Greece and (in Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

) to Albertino Mussato
Albertino Mussato
Albertino Mussato was an Early Renaissance Italian statesman, poet, historian and dramatist credited with providing an impetus to the revival of literary Latin....

.

Over a dozen national governments continue the tradition today.
In ancient Greece the laurel
Bay Laurel
The bay laurel , also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree, or simply laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is the source of the bay leaf used in cooking...

  was sacred to the god Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, and was used to form a crown or wreath
Wreath
A wreath is an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs and/or various materials that is constructed to resemble a ring. They are used typically as Christmas decorations to symbolize the coming of Christ, also known as the Advent season in Christianity. They are also used as festive headdresses...

 of honour for poets and heroes.
Encyclopedia
A poet laureate is a poet
Poet
A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

 officially appointed by a government and is often expected to compose poems for state occasions and other government events. The term dates back to the appointment of Bernard André
Bernard André
Bernard André , also known as Andreas, was a French Augustinian poet, a chronicler of the reign of Henry VII of England, and poet laureate. A native of Toulouse, he was tutor to Prince Arthur, and probably had a share in the education of the future Henry VIII. He was also a tutor at Oxford, and...

 by Henry VII of England
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

, though analogous appointments date back to ancient Greece and (in Padua
Padua
Padua is a city and comune in the Veneto, northern Italy. It is the capital of the province of Padua and the economic and communications hub of the area. Padua's population is 212,500 . The city is sometimes included, with Venice and Treviso, in the Padua-Treviso-Venice Metropolitan Area, having...

) to Albertino Mussato
Albertino Mussato
Albertino Mussato was an Early Renaissance Italian statesman, poet, historian and dramatist credited with providing an impetus to the revival of literary Latin....

.

Over a dozen national governments continue the tradition today.

Background

In ancient Greece the laurel
Bay Laurel
The bay laurel , also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree, or simply laurel, is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is the source of the bay leaf used in cooking...

  was sacred to the god Apollo
Apollo
Apollo is one of the most important and complex of the Olympian deities in Greek and Roman mythology...

, and was used to form a crown or wreath
Wreath
A wreath is an assortment of flowers, leaves, fruits, twigs and/or various materials that is constructed to resemble a ring. They are used typically as Christmas decorations to symbolize the coming of Christ, also known as the Advent season in Christianity. They are also used as festive headdresses...

 of honour for poets and heroes. This custom, first revived in Padua for Albertino Mussato
Albertino Mussato
Albertino Mussato was an Early Renaissance Italian statesman, poet, historian and dramatist credited with providing an impetus to the revival of literary Latin....

, was followed by Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

's examination before the court of Robert of Naples in 1341; the actual crowning ceremony took place in the audience hall of the medieval senatorial palazzo on the Campidoglio, 8 April 1341. These ceremonies, for lack of detailed Roman precedents, took on the character of doctoral candidatures.

It has since become widespread, both in fact and as a metaphor. The word laureate or laureated thus came in English to signify eminence or association with glory (cf.
Cf.
cf., an abbreviation for the Latin word confer , literally meaning "bring together", is used to refer to other material or ideas which may provide similar or different information or arguments. It is mainly used in scholarly contexts, such as in academic or legal texts...

 Nobel laureate). Laureate letters were once the dispatches announcing a victory. The term laureate became associated with degrees awarded by European universities (the term baccalaureate
Bachelor's degree
A bachelor's degree is usually an academic degree awarded for an undergraduate course or major that generally lasts for three or four years, but can range anywhere from two to six years depending on the region of the world...

for the degree of bachelor reflects this idea). As a royal degree in rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, poet laureate was awarded at European universities in the Middle Ages. The term might also refer to the holder of such a degree, which recognized skill in rhetoric, grammar and language.

According to the historian Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

, Petrarch
Petrarch
Francesco Petrarca , known in English as Petrarch, was an Italian scholar, poet and one of the earliest humanists. Petrarch is often called the "Father of Humanism"...

 (Francesco Petrarca, 1304–1374) of Rome, perhaps best known for his sonnets to the fair-haired, blue-eyed Laura, took the title of "poet laureate" in 1341 for the poem "Africa".

Canada

The Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate
Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate
-Role:According to the laureate's official Web site: "The Poet’s role is to encourage and promote the importance of literature, culture and language in Canadian society...

 is appointed as an officer of the Library of Parliament
Library of Parliament
The Library of Parliament is the main information repository and research resource for the Parliament of Canada...

. The position alternates between an English and French speaking laureate each term. Candidates must be able to write in both English and French, must have a substantial publication history (including poetry) displaying literary excellence and must have written work reflecting Canada, among other criteria.

The first ever Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate was awarded to George Bowering
George Bowering
George Harry Bowering, OC, OBC is a prolific Canadian novelist, poet, historian, and biographer. He has served as Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate....

 in 2002. In 2004, the title was transferred to Pauline Michel
Pauline Michel
Pauline Michel is a Canadian novelist, poet, playwright, songwriter and screenwriter from Quebec.In 2004, Michel was appointed the second ever Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate, succeeding George Bowering. She served as Poet Laureate until her term finished on November 16, 2006.- External links :*...

 and in 2006 to John Steffler
John Steffler
-Biography:Born in Toronto, Ontario, Steffler was educated at the University of Toronto and the University of Guelph. Since 1975 he has lived in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador where he taught at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College...

. His term ended on December 3, 2008 and nominations for the position were open to residents of Canada up to September 2008. Pierre DesRuisseaux
Pierre DesRuisseaux
Pierre DesRuisseaux is a Canadian poet. He was named the fourth Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate on April 28, 2009....

 was named the new laureate on April 28, 2009.

India

Sripada Krishnamurty Sastry
Sripada Krishnamurty Sastry
Krishna Murthy Sastry of Sripada family, lived between AD 1866 – 1960, was a native of Devarapalli of West Godavari district. He was the first poet laureate of Andhra Pradesh. He composed more than a hundred works in Telugu...

 was the first poet laureate of Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

, India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

.

Tamil Nadu
Kannadasan
Kannadasan
Kannadasan was a Tamil poet and lyricist, heralded as one of the greatest and most important writer in the Tamil language...

 was the poet laureate of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

 at the time of his death.

Netherlands

The unofficial Poet Laureate of Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 is currently: Ramsey Nasr
Ramsey Nasr
Ramsey Nasr is a Dutch author and actor of mixed descent .He is Dichter des Vaderlands since January 2009.-Filmography:*Frans en Duits *Thuisfront...

 as Dichter des Vaderlands
Dichter des Vaderlands
The Dichter des Vaderlands is an unofficial title for the Poet laureate of the Netherlands. This position was created by the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, the Nederlandse Programma Stichting and the foundation Poetry International in January 2000. The Dichter des Vaderlands's poetry represents...

(Poet of the Fatherland). Gerrit Komrij
Gerrit Komrij
Gerrit Jan Komrij is a Dutch poet, novelist, translator, critic, polemic journalist and playwright. From 2000 to 2004 he was the Dutch Dichter des Vaderlands .-Biography:...

 was the first Dichter des Vaderlands. The title isn't officially designated but was created by Dutch media.

New Zealand

New Zealand has only had an official poet laureate for a few years. Originally sponsored by Te Mata vineyards and known as the Te Mata Estate Poet Laureate, the award is now administered by the National Library of New Zealand
National Library of New Zealand
The National Library of New Zealand is New Zealand's legal deposit library charged with the obligation to "enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its interchanges with other nations"...

 and the holder is officially called New Zealand Poet Laureate. The post is held for two years. Unlike the butt of sack traditionally offered to English poets laureate, New Zealand offers a Tokotoko, which is a carved wooden ceremonial orator's staff.

The first holder of the title was Bill Manhire
Bill Manhire
William "Bill" Manhire, CNZM is an award-winning New Zealand poet, short story writer, and professor, New Zealand's inaugural Poet Laureate.-Biography:...

 who held the post of Poet Laureate from 1998-99. Other former Poets Laureate include, Hone Tuwhare
Hone Tuwhare
Hone Tuwhare was a noted New Zealand poet of Māori ancestry. He is closely associated with The Catlins in the Otago region of New Zealand, where he lived for the latter part of his life.-Early years:...

 (2000–01), Elizabeth Smither
Elizabeth Smither
Elizabeth Smither MNZM is a New Zealand poet and writer.She worked as a librarian.-Awards:* 2002 Te Mata Poet Laureate.* 2000 Montana New Zealand Book Award for Poetry* 2008 Prime Minister's Award for poetry....

 (2002–03), Brian Turner
Brian Turner (New Zealand poet)
Brian Turner is a New Zealand poet and author. He played hockey for New Zealand in the 1960s; senior cricket in Dunedin and Wellington; and was a veteran road cyclist of note...

 (2004–05), Jenny Bornholdt
Jenny Bornholdt
Jennifer Mary Bornholdt is an award-winning New Zealand poet and anthologist.-Biography:Born in Lower Hutt, Bornholdt received a bachelor's degree in English Literature and a Diploma in Journalism...

 (2006–07) and Michele Leggott, (2008–09). The current poet laureate is Bluff poet Cilla McQueen (2010–2011).

Nigeria

Poets Laureate of Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 include: Obo Aba Hisanjani
Obo Aba Hisanjani
Obo Aba Hisanjani is a Nigerian poet.He was born in the small village of Ajah, now a bustling marketplace. He has campaigned against the development and exploitation of the surrounding areas for purely commercial purposes...

.

Saint Lucia

Poets Laureate of Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia
Saint Lucia is an island country in the eastern Caribbean Sea on the boundary with the Atlantic Ocean. Part of the Lesser Antilles, it is located north/northeast of the island of Saint Vincent, northwest of Barbados and south of Martinique. It covers a land area of 620 km2 and has an...

 include: Derek Walcott
Derek Walcott
Derek Alton Walcott, OBE OCC is a Saint Lucian poet, playwright, writer and visual artist who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992 and the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2011 for White Egrets. His works include the Homeric epic Omeros...

.

United Kingdom

From the more general use of the term "poet laureate" arose ts restriction in England to an official office of Poet Laureate, attached to the royal household. King James I
James I of England
James VI and I was King of Scots as James VI from 24 July 1567 and King of England and Ireland as James I from the union of the English and Scottish crowns on 24 March 1603...

 essentially created the position as it is known today for Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

 in 1617, although Jonson's appointment does not seem to have been made formally. The office was a development from the practice in earlier times when minstrel
Minstrel
A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories of distant places or of existing or imaginary historical events. Although minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. Frequently they were retained by royalty...

s and versifier
Poetaster
Poetaster, like rhymester or versifier, is a contemptuous name often applied to bad or inferior poets. Specifically, poetaster has implications of unwarranted pretentions to artistic value. The word was coined in Latin by Erasmus in 1521...

s formed part of the king's retinue. Richard Cœur-de-Lion
Richard I of England
Richard I was King of England from 6 July 1189 until his death. He also ruled as Duke of Normandy, Duke of Aquitaine, Duke of Gascony, Lord of Cyprus, Count of Anjou, Count of Maine, Count of Nantes, and Overlord of Brittany at various times during the same period...

 had a versificator regis (English: king's poet), Gulielmus Peregrinus
Gulielmus Peregrinus
Gulielmus Peregrinus , also known as Gulielmus de Canno or William the Pilgrim, was an English epic poet and versificator regis to Kings Richard I and John.-References:...

 (William the Pilgrim), and Henry III
Henry III of England
Henry III was the son and successor of John as King of England, reigning for 56 years from 1216 until his death. His contemporaries knew him as Henry of Winchester. He was the first child king in England since the reign of Æthelred the Unready...

 had a versificator named Master Henry. In the fifteenth century, John Kay, a versifier, described himself as Edward IV
Edward IV of England
Edward IV was King of England from 4 March 1461 until 3 October 1470, and again from 11 April 1471 until his death. He was the first Yorkist King of England...

's "humble poet laureate".

No single authentic definitive record exists of the office of Poet Laureate of England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. According to Wharton, King Henry I
Henry I of England
Henry I was the fourth son of William I of England. He succeeded his elder brother William II as King of England in 1100 and defeated his eldest brother, Robert Curthose, to become Duke of Normandy in 1106...

 paid 10 shillings a year to a versificator regis. Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer
Geoffrey Chaucer , known as the Father of English literature, is widely considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey...

 (1340–1400) was called Poet Laureate, being granted in 1389 an annual allowance of wine. W. Hamilton describes Chaucer, Gower, Kay, Andrew Bernard, John Skelton
John Skelton
John Skelton, also known as John Shelton , possibly born in Diss, Norfolk, was an English poet.-Education:...

, Robert Whittington, Richard Edwards and Samuel Daniel as "volunteer Laureates".

John Skelton
John Skelton
John Skelton, also known as John Shelton , possibly born in Diss, Norfolk, was an English poet.-Education:...

 studied at the University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 in the early 1480s and was advanced to the degree of "poet laureate" in 1488, when he joined the court of King Henry VII
Henry VII of England
Henry VII was King of England and Lord of Ireland from his seizing the crown on 22 August 1485 until his death on 21 April 1509, as the first monarch of the House of Tudor....

 to tutor the future Henry VIII
Henry VIII of England
Henry VIII was King of England from 21 April 1509 until his death. He was Lord, and later King, of Ireland, as well as continuing the nominal claim by the English monarchs to the Kingdom of France...

. The title of laureate was also conferred on him by the University of Louvain
Catholic University of Leuven
The Catholic University of Leuven, or of Louvain, was the largest, oldest and most prominent university in Belgium. The university was founded in 1425 as the University of Leuven by John IV, Duke of Brabant and approved by a Papal bull by Pope Martin V.During France's occupation of Belgium in the...

 in 1492 and by the University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 in 1492–3. He soon became famous for his rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, satire
Satire
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 and translation
Translation
Translation is the communication of the meaning of a source-language text by means of an equivalent target-language text. Whereas interpreting undoubtedly antedates writing, translation began only after the appearance of written literature; there exist partial translations of the Sumerian Epic of...

s and was held in high esteem by the printer
Printer (publisher)
In publishing, printers are both companies providing printing services and individuals who directly operate printing presses. With the invention of the moveable type printing press by Johannes Gutenberg around 1450, printing—and printers—proliferated throughout Europe.Today, printers are found...

 William Caxton
William Caxton
William Caxton was an English merchant, diplomat, writer and printer. As far as is known, he was the first English person to work as a printer and the first to introduce a printing press into England...

, who wrote, in the preface
Preface
A preface is an introduction to a book or other literary work written by the work's author. An introductory essay written by a different person is a foreword and precedes an author's preface...

 to The Boke of Eneydos compyled by Vargyle (Modern English
Modern English
Modern English is the form of the English language spoken since the Great Vowel Shift in England, completed in roughly 1550.Despite some differences in vocabulary, texts from the early 17th century, such as the works of William Shakespeare and the King James Bible, are considered to be in Modern...

: The Book of the Aeneid
Aeneid
The Aeneid is a Latin epic poem, written by Virgil between 29 and 19 BC, that tells the legendary story of Aeneas, a Trojan who travelled to Italy, where he became the ancestor of the Romans. It is composed of roughly 10,000 lines in dactylic hexameter...

, compiled by Virgil
Virgil
Publius Vergilius Maro, usually called Virgil or Vergil in English , was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He is known for three major works of Latin literature, the Eclogues , the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid...

) (1490):
But I pray mayster John Skelton, late created poete laureate in the unyversite of Oxenforde, to oversee and correct this sayd booke.


The title of Poet Laureate, as a royal office, was first conferred by letters patent
Letters patent
Letters patent are a type of legal instrument in the form of a published written order issued by a monarch or president, generally granting an office, right, monopoly, title, or status to a person or corporation...

 on John Dryden
John Dryden
John Dryden was an influential English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden.Walter Scott called him "Glorious John." He was made Poet...

 in 1670, two years after Davenant's death. The post then became a regular institution. Dryden's successor Shadwell originated annual birthday and New Year odes. The poet laureate became responsible for writing and presenting official verses to commemorate both personal occasions, such as the monarch's birthday or royal births and marriages, and public occasions, such as coronations and military victories. His activity in this respect has varied according to circumstances, and the custom ceased to be obligatory after Pye's death. The office fell into some contempt before Southey, but took on a new lustre from his personal distinction and that of Wordsworth
William Wordsworth
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads....

 and Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular poets in the English language....

. Wordsworth stipulated, before accepting the honour, that no formal effusions from him should be considered a necessity; but Tennyson was generally happy in his numerous poems of this class.

On Tennyson's death there was a considerable feeling that no possible successor was acceptable, William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

 and Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne
Algernon Charles Swinburne was an English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. He invented the roundel form, wrote several novels, and contributed to the famous Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica...

 being hardly suitable as court poets. Eventually, however, the undesirability of breaking with tradition for temporary reasons, and thus severing the one official link between literature and the state, prevailed over the protests against allowing anyone of inferior genius to follow Tennyson. It may be noted that abolition had been similarly advocated when Warton and Wordsworth died. Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

 had condemned the position's artificial approach to poetry:
The salary has varied, but traditionally includes some alcohol. Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson
Benjamin Jonson was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems...

 first received a pension of 100 marks, and later an annual "terse of Canary wine
Sack (wine)
Sack is an antiquated wine term referring to white fortified wine imported from mainland Spain or the Canary Islands. There were sack of different origins such as:* Canary sack from the Canary Islands,* Malaga sack from Málaga,...

". Dryden had a pension of £300 and a butt of Canary wine. Pye received £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

27 instead of the wine. Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular poets in the English language....

 drew £72 a year from the Lord Chamberlain's
Lord Chamberlain
The Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain of the Household is one of the chief officers of the Royal Household in the United Kingdom and is to be distinguished from the Lord Great Chamberlain, one of the Great Officers of State....

 department, and £27 from the Lord Steward's
Lord Steward
The Lord Steward or Lord Steward of the Household, in England, is an important official of the Royal Household. He is always a peer. Until 1924, he was always a member of the Government...

 "in lieu of the butt of sack".

The present British Poet Laureate is Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy
Carol Ann Duffy, CBE, FRSL is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at the Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain's poet laureate in May 2009...

, appointed poet laureate in May 2009.

Scotland

The Edinburgh Makar
Makar
A makar is a term from Scottish literature for a poet or bard, often thought of as royal court poet, although the term can be more generally applied. The word functions in a manner similar to the Greek term which means both maker and poet...

was traditionally seen as the unpaid equivalent of a poet laureate, tasked with representing and promoting poetry in Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

. Since 2004, the Scottish Parliament
Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament is the devolved national, unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of the capital, Edinburgh. The Parliament, informally referred to as "Holyrood", is a democratically elected body comprising 129 members known as Members of the Scottish Parliament...

 has appointed an official Scots Makar, from the Makars of the various cities. On 16 February 2004, Professor Edwin Morgan was appointed to both the Edinburgh post and the national role. On his death he was succeeded (in January 2011) by Liz Lochhead
Liz Lochhead
Liz Lochhead is a Scottish poet and dramatist, originally from Newarthill in North Lanarkshire.-Background:After attending Glasgow School of Art, Lochhead lectured in fine art for eight years before becoming a professional writer....

.

Wales

Wales has had a long tradition of poets and bards under royal patronage, with extant writing from mediæval royal poets
Medieval Welsh literature
Medieval Welsh literature is the literature written in the Welsh language during the Middle Ages. This includes material from the fifth century, when Welsh was in the process of becoming distinct from the British language, to the works of the 16th century....

 and earlier. An office of National Poet for Wales
National Poet for Wales
The post of National Poet of Wales was established in May 2005 by Academi – the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society for Writers. The post is supported by the Arts Council of Wales’ Lottery fund....

 was established in April 2005. The first holder, Gwyneth Lewis
Gwyneth Lewis
Gwyneth Lewis is a Welsh poet, and was the first National Poet for Wales.-Biography:Born into a Welsh speaking family, Lewis's father started teaching her English when her mother went into hospital to give birth to her sister....

, was followed by Gwyn Thomas
Gwyn Thomas (poet)
Professor Gwyn Thomas , is a Welsh poet, academic and a former National Poet for Wales.Raised in Tanygrisiau and Blaenau Ffestiniog, Thomas was educated at Ysgol Sir Ffestiniog, University of Wales, Bangor and Jesus College, Oxford; Prof Thomas is presently Emeritus Professor of Welsh at the...


United States of America

The United States Library of Congress
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and...

 has since 1937 appointed an official Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—commonly referred to as the United States Poet Laureate—serves as the nation's official poet. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of...

 until 1984. An Act of Congress changed the name of the position in 1985 to Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress
The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress—commonly referred to as the United States Poet Laureate—serves as the nation's official poet. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of...

. A number of the American states' legislatures have created official government positions which are occupied by Poets Laureate who are prominent either locally, nationally, or sometimes both.

Laureates receive a US$35,000
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

 stipend and are given the responsibility of overseeing an ongoing series of poetry readings and lectures at the library, and a charge to promote poetry. No other duties are specified, and laureates are not required to compose for government events or in praise of government officials. However, after the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001, the Poet Laureate then in office, Billy Collins, was asked to write a poem to be read in front of a special joint session of Congress. Collins wrote "The Names" which he read on September 6, 2002, which is available in streaming audio and video. When the $35,000 stipend was originally instituted, the amount was quite large and was intended to allow the poet laureate to abandon worries about earning a living and devote his or her time entirely to writing poetry. That amount has remained the same over the years, so the intent of making it a nice living for a poet is no longer being fulfilled. Now it functions as a bonus for a poet who usually is teaching at a university and earns the bulk of his or her living that way.

U.S. Poets Laureate: Philip Levine
Philip Levine
Philip Levine may refer to:*Philip Levine , American populist poet & professor of English, 2011-2012 Poet Laureate of the United States*Philip Levine , Russian-born American immuno-hematologist, researched blood groups...

 was named the 18th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry of the United States. Levine will succeed W.S. Merwin, who was the country's seventeenth Poet Laureate.
Former Poets: Kay Ryan
Kay Ryan
Kay Ryan is an American poet and educator. She has published seven volumes of poetry and an anthology of selected and new poems. Ryan was the sixteenth United States Poet Laureate, from 2008 to 2010...

, Charles Simic
Charles Simic
Dušan "Charles" Simić is a Serbian-American poet, and was co-Poetry Editor of the Paris Review. He was appointed the fifteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2007.-Early years:...

, Ted Kooser
Ted Kooser
Ted Kooser is an American poet. He served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 to 2006.-Early Life:...

, Louise Glück
Louise Glück
Louise Elisabeth Glück is an American poet of Hungarian Jewish heritage. She was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2003, after serving as a Special Bicentennial Consultant three years prior in 2000....

, Billy Collins
Billy Collins
Billy Collins is an American poet, appointed as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003. He is a Distinguished Professor at Lehman College of the City University of New York and is the Senior Distinguished Fellow of the Winter Park Institute, Florida...

, Rita Dove
Rita Dove
Rita Frances Dove is an American poet and author. From 1993-1995 she served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, a position now popularly known as "U.S. Poet Laureate"...

, Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop
Elizabeth Bishop was an American poet and short-story writer. She was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1956 and a National Book Award Winner for Poetry in 1970. Elizabeth Bishop House is an artists' retreat in Great Village, Nova Scotia...

, Robert Frost
Robert Frost
Robert Lee Frost was an American poet. He is highly regarded for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in New England in the early twentieth century, using them to examine complex social and...

, Karl Shapiro
Karl Shapiro
Karl Jay Shapiro was an American poet. He was appointed the fifth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1946.-Biography:...

, Allen Tate
Allen Tate
John Orley Allen Tate was an American poet, essayist, social commentator, and Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1943 to 1944.-Life:...

, Robert Penn Warren
Robert Penn Warren
Robert Penn Warren was an American poet, novelist, and literary critic and was one of the founders of New Criticism. He was also a charter member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. He founded the influential literary journal The Southern Review with Cleanth Brooks in 1935...

, Richard Wilbur
Richard Wilbur
Richard Purdy Wilbur is an American poet and literary translator. He was appointed the second Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1987, and twice received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, in 1957 and again in 1989....

, Joseph Brodsky
Joseph Brodsky
Iosif Aleksandrovich Brodsky , was a Russian poet and essayist.In 1964, 23-year-old Brodsky was arrested and charged with the crime of "social parasitism" He was expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972 and settled in America with the help of W. H. Auden and other supporters...

, Stanley Kunitz
Stanley Kunitz
Stanley Jasspon Kunitz was an American poet. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress twice, first in 1974 and then again in 2000.-Biography:...

, Robert Hass
Robert Hass
Robert L. Hass is an American poet. He served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997. He was awarded the 2007 National Book Award and the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Time and Materials.-Life:...

, Donald Hall
Donald Hall
Donald Hall is an American poet. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2006.-Personal life:...

, Robert Pinsky
Robert Pinsky
Robert Pinsky is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. From 1997 to 2000, he served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Pinsky is the author of nineteen books, most of which are collections of his own poetry...

 (three terms), Mark Strand
Mark Strand
Mark Strand is an American poet, essayist, and translator. He was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1990. Since 2005, he has been a professor of English at Columbia University.- Biography :...

, Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde
Audre Lorde was a Caribbean-American writer, poet and activist.-Life:...

 and Maxine Kumin
Maxine Kumin
Maxine Kumin is an American poet and author. She was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1981-1982.-Early years:...

, among others.

District of Columbia
Minnesota
The State of Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

 has appointed a Poet Laureate since 2007. The first appointee to the position was Robert Bly
Robert Bly
Robert Bly is an American poet, author, activist and leader of the Mythopoetic Men's Movement.-Life:Bly was born in Lac qui Parle County, Minnesota, to Jacob and Alice Bly, who were of Norwegian ancestry. Following graduation from high school in 1944, he enlisted in the United States Navy, serving...

. In 2011, Bly was succeeded by Joyce Sutphen
Joyce Sutphen
Joyce Sutphen is an American poet, currently serving as Minnesota's Poet Laureate. She is the state's second laureate, appointed by Governor Mark Dayton in August, 2011. Sutphen also serves as a professor of English at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota.-Life:Sutphen was raised in...

.

Virginia
The commonwealth of Virginia has appointed a Poet Laureate since December 18, 1936. The first Poet Laureate was Carter Warner Wormeley; he was appointed for life. The appointments made from 1942 until 1992 were for one year at a time, many were for more than one term. In 1992, the appointment was increased to a two-year term, and beginning in 1998 the appointments were made from list of nominees presented by the Poetry Society of Virginia; which was established at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1923.

Colorado
The State of Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

appointed one of the most widely known Poets Laureate of the late 20th century, singer/songwriter John Denver.

External links

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