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Wednesday, September 8, 1999 Published at 12:17 GMT 13:17 UK

UK Politics

Poet pens ode to TUC

The poem will be delivered to delegates on Tuesday

Delegates at next week's TUC conference will hear the first poem written in the union movement's honour in its 131-year history.

BBC Industry Correspondent Stephen Evans had a preview from the poet
Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has composed a 30-line poem, In a Perfect World, for the TUC's conference in Brighton

It focuses on the subjects of liberty and industrial heritage as the poet walks along the Thames from Richmond to Westminster:

    The smoke-scarred walls

    of a disused warehouse offered on close
    inspection a locked-away world of rust
    and sand flecks and slate all hoarding the sun.

The poem will be delivered to delegates at the TUC's annual conference on Tuesday, following speeches by Prime Minister Tony Blair and Sir Hermon Ouseley, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality.

[ image: Andrew Motion: Labour Party member]
Andrew Motion: Labour Party member
Mr Motion told the BBC: "It fits very comfortably with the ideas that I have about how I want to interpret about being poet laureate, which is to say I want to go on respecting the traditional associations which this post has with writing poems about events in the royal calendar.

"But as I said when I was appointed, I want to put those poems into a much larger picture of poems about national events.

"So the chance to write about individual liberty and internationalism was both exciting and very interesting to me."

"It is political, but it is political on behalf of individual people rather than, in some strict sense, party political."

Millennium poem

Mr Motion was appointed as poet laureate in May, succeeding Ted Hughes.

TUC General Secretary John Monks said: "We are honoured and delighted by the laureate's acceptance of our invitation which I know will be appreciated by the hundreds of trade unionists gathering in Brighton this weekend.

"The poem evokes liberty in a gently paced and beautifully understated way.

"The sunshine stroll both recaptures the legacy of our past and looks buoyantly to the future. It also reminds us that others around the world are still denied the basic freedoms we take for granted."

The poem is the first to be commissioned by the TUC. A spokesperson said: "Every year we attempt to make congress a bit different.

"The congress covers a wide range of different areas and as it is the last congress of the millennium we thought it would be a nice idea to have the new poet laureate pen his thoughts on unionism."

[ image: The poem dwells on the industrial past]
The poem dwells on the industrial past
Mr Motion's first commission as poet laureate was to mark the royal wedding in June.

But despite his commission for the TUC, the poet does not see himself composing a work for the CBI conference.

He said: "I'd frankly find it harder to write for the CBI than I would for the TUC.

"My own political sympathies are very much on the side of the TUC and I'm a member of the Labour Party and so on.

"So here I am with my credentials exposed in a way which I am perfectly happy to do."

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