Dana Rudolph

Poet, Mother (and Lesbian) to Write Poem for Royal Wedding

Filed By Dana Rudolph | April 28, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, Politics, The Movement
Tags: carol ann duffy, Kate Middleton, prince william, royal wedding

I wasn't going to write about the royal wedding at all. Despite having lived in the U.K. for a couple of years, I find the monarchy interesting only as an example of the persistence of older traditions of European leadership. (Yes, I was a historian.)

carol-ann-duffy-portrait.jpgBut as a chronicler of things related to lesbian moms, I now feel obligated to note that Carol Ann Duffy, Britain's Poet Laureate, will be writing a poem for Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. Duffy is a lesbian and a mother, although a few years ago, she told Jeanette Winterson (another great, out British writer), "I'm not a lesbian poet, whatever that is. If I am a lesbian icon and a role model, that's great, but if it is a word that is used to reduce me, then you have to ask why someone would want to reduce me? I never think about it. I don't care about it. I define myself as a poet and as a mother--that's all."

Part of the Poet Laureate's job is to compose poems for royal occasions, but Duffy told the BBC Woman's Hour in 2009 that she would only write for the occasions that inspired her, saying, "If I felt, in the event of a royal wedding, inspired to write about people coming together in marriage or civil partnership, I would just be grateful to have an idea for the poem. And if I didn't, I'd ignore it."

Did you catch that? Making sure to include same-sex unions as well? It will be interesting to see if her poem for Will and Kate, entitled, "Rings," will focus more on universal themes of relationships, rather than gendered ones.

Duffy is the first Scot, the first woman, the first LGBT person, and the first mother to hold the British Poet Laureate title. She in fact left the decision about whether to take the position up to her 13-year-old daughter, reported the AP (via 365gay.com), who urged her to do so because she would be the first woman.

(Bonus fun fact: Between May 1, 2009, when Duffy was appointed Poet Laureate of Britain, until May 2010, when Kay Ryan ended her two terms as Poet Laureate of the U.S. (technically, "Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress"), both countries had lesbian poets laureate.)

img Carol Ann Duffy's site


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Her poetry will probably be the only interesting thing to come out of this wedding.