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1st female laureate of poetry is named

CAROL Ann Duffy was named poet laureate yesterday, the first woman to hold the title in its 341-year history.

Duffy, born in Glasgow, Scotland, said she thought "long and hard" about accepting the position, seen by some as a poisoned chalice due to the public scrutiny that comes with it.

Duffy, 53, was firm favorite to take over from Andrew Motion, who stepped down after a 10-year tenure.

The royal post, held by the likes of John Dryden and William Wordsworth, used to be for life. But Duffy, like Motion, will hold it for 10 years.

"I look on it as a recognition of the great women poets we have writing now," Duffy told BBC Radio. "I've decided to accept it for that reason." She had been in the running for the role in 1999 but lost out to Motion over what media reports said were concerns about how people would react to a lesbian laureate.

Duffy is probably best known for her 1999 collection "The World's Wife" in which she tells the stories of the women behind some of the leading men through history.

Other highlights among her collections, many of which have won major awards, are "Standing Female Nude" (1985), "Mean Time" (1993), "Feminine Gospels" (2002) and "Rapture" (2005).

Duffy also writes plays.

Last year, Britain's biggest exam board, AQA, was accused of censorship after it removed a poem by Duffy containing references to knife crime from the GCSE syllabus.

The poem starts: "Today I am going to kill something. Anything./I have had enough of being ignored and today/I am going to play God."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called her "a truly brilliant modern poet who has stretched our imaginations by putting the whole range of human experiences into lines that capture the emotions perfectly."


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