Page last updated at 07:58 GMT, Saturday, 2 May 2009 08:58 UK

Laureate Duffy 'coup' for venue

Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke
The two friends' poems are studied in schools

Britain's first woman Poet Laureate will be giving a poetry reading in Monmouthshire later alongside Wales' National Poet who is also a woman.

Carol Ann Duffy, who holds a centuries-old post which has previously been male dominated, will join Gillian Clarke at the event in Chepstow.

The women are close friends and were booked for the On the Border reading in the town's Drill Hall months ago.

William Ayot, the event's organiser, said it was "a little bit of a coup".

He said: "My passion is the spoken word. They are both brilliant readers of their poems."

Mr Ayot, has set up a series of Welsh/English readings by contemporary poets for the border town and this is the first in the series.

Carol is a witty, wise, wonderful poet. In her many collections of poetry her words go right to the heart of what it is to be human
National Poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke

Duffy, 53, from Glasgow, is also the first Scot to be appointed Laureate, in the award's 341-year-history.

She takes up a 10-year tenure of the post which also brings a £5,750 annual payment and about 600 bottles of sherry.

Clarke, originally from Cardiff but now living in Ceredigion, is Wales' third national poet, and the second woman to hold the title.

The two poets both feature as set texts on the GCSE and A Level curriculum and it is through this connection that they have developed their friendship.

From her home in Talgarreg, Ceredigion, Gillian Clarke said of her friend being named as Poet Laureate: "This could not be better news for poetry in Britain, and for women's writing everywhere.

Amazingly generous

"Carol is a witty, wise, wonderful poet. In her many collections of poetry her words go right to the heart of what it is to be human, and her lyrical work for children brings the best literary talent to the youngest audience."

Duffy follows in a literary tradition which includes William Wordsworth and, more recently, Sir John Betjeman.

She has decided to give away the modest payment which comes with the post to administer a prize for young writers.

Clarke said that was typical of her friend.

"Who would do that, that's an amazingly generous thing to do," said Clarke.

Duffy is a regular visitor to Wales and has read in Merthyr Tydfil, Aberdare, Cardiff, Swansea and several venues throughout Wales.

She was back last autumn when she read at the Hen & Chicks in Abergavenny.

Last month she was a course tutor with Gillian Clarke at Tŷ Newydd Writing Centre in Llanystumdwy and the two poets will be appear again at a joint event at the Hay Festival on 28 May.

Mr Ayot said there were still a few tickets left for the Chepstow event which is supported by Academi, the Welsh literature promotion agency and starts at 2000 BST, but admitted he expected them soon to sell out.

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