Given the uneven quality of laureate choices in the past, it needs to be said that this honor is well deserved. I think that Duffy is quite simply the best poet of any gender writing in England—something The Guardian’s headline writer might have considered before dashing off the main article’s subhead: “Duffy takes poetry’s most prestigious job … as a standard-bearer for women poets.” The statement is typical literary journalism, but I’ll bet it made Duffy bristle. She has resources of wit sufficient to address such comments, of course, and it’ll be interesting to see how often she has to draw on them. After all, as The Guardian’s lead article notes, she is “quoted as saying that the laureate role needed to be ‘much more democratic’, more people’s poet than monarch’s bard, and that she would ‘not write a poem for Edward and Sophie — no self-respecting poet should have to’.”
One thinks of Bette Davis as Margo Channing in All About Eve, downing a martini and warning, “Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.” It’s a line that could easily find a home in a Carol Ann Duffy poem.