The Washington Post

Britain’s poet laureate coming to Folger Library

(Courtesy of the Folger Library.) (Courtesy of the Folger Library.)

Next week offers Washingtonians a rare chance to hear Britain’s poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. The celebrated writer will be at the Folger Library on May 5 in conversation with PBS NewsHour senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown.

Duffy scored a number of firsts in 2009 when she assumed the office of poet laureate: She was the first female and the first Scot to fill the 400-year-old post once held by such luminaries as Dryden, Wordsworth and Tennyson.

Over a career spanning 40 years, Duffy has produced strikingly imaginative and accessible poetry that speaks to a wide audience. As poet laureate, she has been a prolific poetical commentator on topical subjects, including AIDS, Queen Elizabeth and even David Beckham.

Currently a professor at Manchester Metropolitan University, Duffy has also written books for children and works for the theater. Her most recent collection of poems, “The Bees” (2011), won a Costa Book Award (previously known as the Whitbread Awards). Here’s the title poem in that collection (reprinted with permission from Faber & Faber):


Here are my bees,

brazen, blurs on paper,

besotted; buzzwords, dancing

their flawless, airy maps.


Been deep, my poet bees,

in the parts of flowers,

in daffodil, thistle, rose, even

the golden lotus; so glide,

gilded, glad, golden, thus –


wise – and know of us:

how your scent pervades

my shadowed, busy heart,

and honey is art.

Recently, Jeffrey Brown has been covering poetry on the NewsHour in an innovative series of reports from around the country with US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.

The May 5 presentation begins at 7:30 p.m. For tickets ($15) call 202-544-7077 or click here. The Folger Theatre is located behind the Library of Congress at 201 East Capitol St. SE.

Ron Charles is the editor of The Washington Post's Book World. For a dozen years, he enjoyed teaching American literature and critical theory in the Midwest, but finally switched to journalism when he realized that if he graded one more paper, he'd go crazy.



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