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Wednesday, May 26, 1999 Published at 15:41 GMT 16:41 UK


Motion proposes more poetry in schools

Andrew Motion: "I don't know what the problem is"

The new Poet Laureate wants schools to do more to encourage children to enjoy poetry.

Andrew Motion, 46, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, says he does not understand why poetry has declined so much since he was at school.

Outlining his plans for the job to journalists, he said that, 30 or 40 years ago, there had been an expectation that people would learn poetry.

"I have a 12-year-old boy and 11-year-old twins. They go to perfectly good schools but I am struck by how small amount of time they spend on poetry," he said.

"I think a lot of teachers find it difficult to teach. I think parents find it difficult to understand. I think children feel it has got nothing to do with them."


Mr Motion said he would be taking up the matter with the Culture Secretary, Chris Smith, and the Education Secretary, David Blunkett, with a sense of "relaxed urgency".

He doubted that television was to blame.

"I don't know what the reason is. I think it has more to do with people feeling that poetry has no relevance to their lives and their condition. I think that poetry is difficult for a lot of people," he said.

He suggested that a good place for people to start trying to develop an interest in poetry would be by reading anything by the modern poet Carol Ann Duffy - one of his rivals for the job of Poet Laureate - and The Darkling Thrush, by Thomas Hardy.

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