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Tuesday, 15 October, 2002, 10:54 GMT 11:54 UK
'Cold comfort' for Poet Laureate
Andrew Motion
Motion teaches creative writing at East Anglia University
Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has admitted to using chemical stimulation to help him write poetry - a daily cup of cold remedy Lemsip, according to reports.

The poet told the Daily Telegraph he had no idea how it helped - although it gave him the sensation of having "a mild illness".

"It works. I've been doing it for years and it's become habitual," he said.


It doesn't cause poetry in most people

Lemsip spokesman
"Years and years ago, I read in a biography of AE Housman that he wrote most of A Shropshire Lad while he had a cold.

"And I thought, yes, I know about that - that sort of slightly introverted self-pitying mood that a mild illness can give."

"It is absolutely conducive to poems," he added.

Motion said that Lemsip, which contains a decongestant and well as traces of caffeine and paracetamol, allowed him to "fool myself into feeling a bit ill".

Admirer

The poet, who was born in London and educated at Oxford University, published his first collection of poetry in 1977.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Coleridge used Laudunum to inspire poetic visions
He is an admirer of Philip Larkin, whom he has called "possibly the finest expository lyrical poet".

Motion won a Whitbread Award for his biography of the poet.

In 1995, he succeeded Malcolm Bradbury as professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia and in 1998 he was appointed Poet Laureate.

A number of 19th-Century poets, including Thomas de Quincey, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Edgar Allen Poe, were known to use stronger substances to encourage their creativity.

"It's my Lemsip-inspired trance, and I can only say thank heavens it's not laudanum or absinthe," said Motion.

A spokesman for Lemsip manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser reassured users: "It is fair to say that it doesn't cause poetry in most people."

See also:

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