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poet laureate

poet laureate (lô´rēĬt), title conferred in Britain by the monarch on a poet whose duty it is to write commemorative odes and verse. It is an outgrowth of the medieval English custom of having versifiers and minstrels in the king's retinue, and of the later royal patronage of poets, such as Chaucer and Spenser. Ben Jonson seems to have had what amounted to the laureateship from Charles I in 1617, but the present title, adopted from the Greek and Roman custom of crowning with a wreath of laurel, was first given to John Dryden in 1670.

Dryden's successors have been Thomas Shadwell (1688–92), Nahum Tate (1692–1715), Nicholas Rowe (1715–18), Laurence Eusden (1718–30), Colley Cibber (1730–57), William Whitehead (1757–85), Thomas Warton (1785–90), Henry Pye (1790–1813), Robert Southey (1813–43), William Wordsworth (1843–50), Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1850–92), Alfred Austin (1892–1913), Robert Bridges (1913–30), John Masefield (1930–67), Cecil Day Lewis (1968–72), John Betjeman (1972–84), Ted Hughes (1984–98), Andrew Motion (1999–2009), the first poet to serve a fixed 10-year term, and Carol Ann Duffy (2009–), Britain's first female laureate. In recent years the position's ceremonial duties have largely been eliminated, and it is no longer a lifetime post.

In the United States, the poet laureate is charged with raising "the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry." It is an annual position but may be held for a series of years; the poet is chosen by the Librarian of Congress. It was instituted in 1937 as the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress and was held by 30 poets before an act of Congress (1985) changed the name to poet laureate. Robert Penn Warren became (1986) the first to hold the title of poet laureate in United States. His successors have been Richard Wilbur (1987–88), Howard Nemerov (1988–90), Mark Strand (1990–91), Joseph Brodsky (the first foreign-born laureate; 1991–92), Mona Van Duyn (the first woman laureate; 1992–93), Rita Dove (the first African-American laureate; 1993–95), Robert Hass (1995–97), Robert Pinsky (1997–2000), Stanley Kunitz (2000–2001), Billy Collins (2001–3), Louise Glück (2003–4), Ted Kooser (2004–6), Donald Hall (2006–7), Charles Simic (2007–8), Kay Ryan (2008–10), W. S. Merwin (2010–11), Philip Levine (2011–12), Natasha Trethewey (2012–14), and Charles Wright (2014–).

See K. Hopkins, The Poets Laureate (1954, repr. 1966).

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"poet laureate." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Poet Laureate

POET LAUREATE

POET LAUREATE, a position created in 1937 for the purpose of raising Americans' consciousness of and appreciation for the reading and writing of poetry. The librarian of Congress, in consultation with poetry experts and critics, appoints the poet laureate for a one-year term. Serving from October to May, the poet laureate receives a stipend of $35,000 funded by a gift trust. Although the appointee is encouraged to pursue his or her own projects while in residence at the Library of Congress, the laureate's duties also include giving a lecture and a poetry reading. The poet laureate also customarily introduces participants in the library's annual poetry series, which dates back to the 1940s. In addition, those holding the position often use the forum to bring their own artistic and educational concerns to the fore.

Joseph Auslander served as the nation's first poet laureate; other notable laureates have included Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost, James Dickey, Richard Wilbur, and Robert Pinsky.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

McGuire, William. Poetry's Catbird Seat: The Consultantship in Poetry in the English Language at the Library of Congress, 1937–1987. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1988.

Barbara SchwarzWachal

See alsoLibrary of Congress ; Literature .

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"Poet Laureate." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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poet laureate

poet laureate. James I awarded Ben Jonson a pension in 1616 and he and Sir William Davenant (1637) were widely recognized as laureates. But the first court appointment of a laureate was in 1668 when Charles II chose Dryden. In the 18th cent. the laureate was expected to produce birthday odes and wedding verses. Among the more distinguished laureates were Wordsworth (1843) and Tennyson (1850); less distinguished were Whitehead (1757), Pye (1790), and Alfred Austin (1896). The present poet laureate is Andrew Motion.

J. A. Cannon

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"poet laureate." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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poet laureate

po·et lau·re·ate / ˈlôrēət/ • n. (pl. po·ets lau·re·ate) an eminent poet traditionally appointed for life as a member of the British royal household. ∎  a poet appointed to, or regarded unofficially as holding, an honorary representative position in a particular country, region, or group: the New York State poet laureate the poet laureate of young America.

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"poet laureate." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"poet laureate." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/poet-laureate-0

Poet Laureate

Poet Laureate an eminent poet appointed as a member of the British royal household. The first Poet Laureate in the modern sense was Ben Jonson, but the title became established with the appointment of John Dryden in 1668. The Poet Laureate was formerly expected to write poems for state occasions, but since Victorian times the post has carried no specific duties.

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"Poet Laureate." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Poet Laureate." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/poet-laureate