It’s time for me to to break my long silence on a sensitive topic. Loyal followers will be acutely aware that I was overlooked this summer in my quest to be the United Kingdom’s next Poet Laureate. I had hoped that my close association with Her Majesty the Queen, living, as I then did just across the river from her, would have swung the decision in my favour but sadly it was not to be. It seems that, despite the commitment I demonstrated to producing verse for royal occasions my little ditties were not quite what Her Majesty or the lackies surrounding her were seeking.
I thought the country could do with cheering up a bit but they obviously didn’t agree. Now that we have a comedian for our Prime Minister, and a majority of the country seem sufficiently entertained to want him returned to office, I assume we bards have to strike a more serious note.
I can not pretend that the slight was unexpected but frankly the rejection was harder to take than I’d expected. It’s rather like applying for a job you weren’t sure you wanted. You try to tell yourself you don’t care when they don’t want you but there’s something about the act of applying that convinces you you wanted the job even if any first you weren’t sure.
I thought my collected royal poems in the aptly titled, Begging Your Pardon : Please Can I Be Laureate? might have swung things but sadly they didn’t seem to. The volume is still available on Amazon for anyone who may have missed it but frankly it’s time for me to move on and focus on other things. Hopefully there literary juices will start to flow again and I’lll be back to myself in 2020 but my association with the royal family is I’m sad to say at an end.
It’s with some regret that I dissociate myself from royal associations but, given my namesake Prince Andrew’s single handed attempt to ensure our name “Andrew’ will not make the top ten boy’s names for 2020, it’s probably the right time.
I think I will be better off foregoing royal patronage and striking out on my own. To reinforce the separation we have sold our house across the river from Her Majesty and moved to a new property down river in Maidenhead where I shall be licking my wounds in the parliamentary constituency of our former Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Theresa May, who knows a little about rejection herself. I’m not quite certain what comes next but watch this space for news of new beginnings.
When I was sixteen or seventeen I represented my district at cross country running. I wasn’t a great runner, sixth or seventh at best in our school event but no-one else liked cross country so, if you were willing you got in the team. It was the same with football. I was obsessed with the game but never quite made the first eleven. I was less interested in rugby but they needed fifteen players so I squeaked in. The point is the Poet Laureate gig is taking on a similar slant. My best chance of making the cut is I’m not sure anyone else wants it.
Wendy Cope would be my choice for instance but she made clear last time she didn’t want to be considered and it’s unlikely she’ll change her mind. Given she labelled the Laureate role ‘an ‘archaic post with ridiculous expectations attached to it’ they probably wouldn’t have her. She did say the expectations didn’t come from the palace or from Whitehall but from public and the media but I imagine Her Majesty felt a little hurt anyway. Or perhaps she didn’t; I’m not sure whether she’s really a poetry fan or not.
Anyway, that was one would be Laureate who ruled herself out of the running. Benjamin Zephaniah has been even more adamant, making clear that he has ‘absolutely no interest in the job’. He’d previously turned down an OBE and describes himself as ‘profoundly anti empire’. If that wasn’t clear enough he’s said, ‘I have absolutely no interest in this job. I won’t work for them. They oppress me, they upset me, and they are not worthy.’ So, he has a great CV but you suspect the job interview, should he turn up, wouldn’t go quite as well.
Jackie Kay is already doing the Scottish job and says the ‘Makar’ role (a sillier title still?) means she’ll be too busy. There’s a few who are up for it I’ll maybe write about another time but it starts to sound a bit like the Oscar Wilde thing where you wouldn’t want a Laureate who fancied the job. So maybe, just maybe there’s an outside chance for the likes of me as a sort of compromise candidate more interested in entertainment than high art.
Anyway watch this space for an update on Begging Your Pardon – Please Can I Be Laureate?’ hot off the presses soon.
I have to be honest with you, I thought it would simply be a matter of popping round for a chat with Her Majesty and explaining that I’d be the perfect choice; on account of writing a lot and living quite near the Castle. It seems that’s not enough! Quite a complicated process in fact.
As far as I understand Jeremy Wright, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is running the process and Her Majesty doesn’t get much of a look in. Seems very unfair to me. She wants someone who’s handy and willing to knock something out for family occasions but the political choices are often a bit full of themselves and think jolly rhymes that cheer us all up are a bit beneath them.
Anyway there will be an advisory panel to help Jeremy whatnot, assuming he hasn’t resigned over the Brexit business or been moved on. The panel will made up of experts from across the regions and nations of the UK. Important dignitaries like the founder of the Bradford Literature Festival. There will be representatives from the British Council, Arts Council England and Arts Council Northern Ireland, the Royal Society of Literature, Scottish Poetry Library, Literature Wales, The Poetry Society, Forward Arts Foundation, British Library and Poetry Book Society are also included in the pan
A formal announcement is expected to be made in May 2019 when we’ll get to know who’ll be doing the job for the next ten years. Hopefully that’ll give me time to jog Her Majesty’s memory and remind her of my offer.
I’m publishing my new book Begging Your Pardon : Please Can I Be Laureate before Christmas so she’ll have a chance to see what I can do.
Just when I’d given up and all seemed lost I hear Carol Ann Duffy is nearing the end of her stint and the Poet Laureate job is up for grabs again.
Some of you will know I live near Her Majesty and have offered more than once to help out but so far my offer to knock out verse for all the big occasions has fallen on deaf ears. I do my bit from time to time but, up to now, without recognition. I’ve offered to drop round to the Castle for an interview but have still not heard anything.
Anyway it seems Carol Ann Duffy’s ten year stint is coming to an end and they need a new Laureate. They’ve started to take suggestions and a new appointment will be announced in May.
It’s a well known fact that the best known poets all turn it down but I’m willing and, current low spirits aside, churn verse out almost daily. So coming up with the odd one for Her Majesty would be no problem at all.
I’d already decided to give it one more shot when the exciting news emerged the Carol Ann will soon be winding down. Fortunately I have a new book in the pipeline re-emphasising my interest and setting out my credentials.
I’m excited to announce that, ‘Begging Your Pardon: Please Can I Be Laureate?’ will be released on Amazon soon. Sign up to Andrew Green’s poems and I’ll be sure to keep you posted!
Well I offered to be Poet Laureate often enough but they never took me up! Now the inevitable has happened Carol Ann Duffy hasn’t come up with a poem. Seems they’re throwing it open to us amateurs so here’s my big chance, maybe yours?
From today’s Sunday Times.
Your chance to be the royal bard
The silence of Britain’s poet laureate should not discourage readers of The Sunday Times from offering their own tribute to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
We invite you to submit your verse to be considered for publication on the day after the wedding which is being held on May 19.
The first poet laureate, John Dryden, was recompensed for his role with a yearly pension of £200 and “a butt of Canary wine”. All we can promise our winning entrant is the glory of appearing in The Sunday Times, subject to the editor’s decision.
Poems may rhyme or not; they may be long or short. Our only request is that they reach us by Tuesday, May 15.
Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to Royal Poems Competition, The Sunday Times, 1 London Bridge Street, London SE1 9GF.
I work part time these days and don’t earn a lot from poetry so a little extra income would be welcome. I live very near Windsor Castle, Her Majesty’s weekend home so would be up for the Poet Laureate job if they would have me. I wrote to the Queen a while back but haven’t had a reply yet. Hope there’ll be one soon. This was my letter.
Dear Queen Elizabeth,
Just a note to say
When next you need a Laureate,
Please consider me.
I write a lot of poetry
So how hard can it be?
In terms of productivity
You could do worse than me.
I’d mark the big occasions
And mark each special day.
Be it births, or deaths,
Or marriages; the special jubilees.
Providing something rhymes with it
You’ll be OK with me.
The better poets turn it down
Get up themselves and sniffy.
I’ll just get on and churn stuff out.
I write most every day.
Whatever you want a poem about.
Please just give me a shout.
I can easily write at Royal request
And churn another out.
I’m very, very local
I just live down the road
I could pop round to the castle
Whenever you’re next home.
Could do a proper interview
Or just come for a brew
I’m flexible so any time
Whatever works for you.
They’ll be wanting a poem for the big event. Click Amazon’s link for details of the day and souvenirs of the big occassion.