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Carol Ann Duffy on five years as poet laureate: 'It has been a joy'

Carol Ann Duffy talks to Nicholas Wroe about turning the spotlight on poetry, writing verse for the Queen and why she won't be appearing on I'm a Celebrity

When Carol Ann Duffy was appointed poet laureate in 2009, the first woman to hold the post in its nearly 350-year history, she set herself several goals that included setting up new prizes, giving support to new festivals and helping to generate commissions for poets. But she had only one goal for herself as a practising poet. "I wanted to continue to write as I always had, and I have tried very hard not to write a poem I previously wouldn't have written. There always had been a public element to my work, particularly during the Thatcher years, and I think all poets, to a greater or lesser degree, need to have a finger on the national pulse. Poetry provides an important alternative voice to journalists or pundits or academics as a way of dealing with things that matter to us all. But, for me, it was about finding the moment when my interests and my voice ran parallel to something that could be seen as public."

One example of those moments came last week when, as a writer born in Scotland and then brought up in England, Duffy's poem written in the wake of the Scottish independence referendum, "September 2014", was published on the front page of this newspaper. Other examples are found in her latest collection, Ritual Lighting, which is published to mark the halfway point of her laureateship and contains 16 poems written over the last few years on subjects as diverse as the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, the Icelandic volcanic ash-cloud of 2010 and the Hillsborough disaster:

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