Chiswick Audience Hears of Poet Laureate’s ‘Thankless’ Job

Andrew Motion claims writing verse for the Royal Family gave him writer's block

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Those who braved the wet and wild weather to hear Andrew Motion speak at last weekend’s West London Literary Festival heard how writing for the royal family had given Motion a case of writer’s block.

As part of the festival, held on Chiswick’s Acton Green, the Poet Laureate told the audience how the Queen "never gives me an opinion on my work for her".

"I won't be including any of that work in my future collections," he said, adding he "did what I had to do".

Andrew Motion was given the role of Poet Laureate in 1999 although, unlike others who have held the prestigious title until their death, he will hold the post until the end of 2009.

There are those who may feel that composing poetry to mark such occasions as the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's diamond wedding anniversary and Prince William's 21st birthday would be fulfilling but Motion claims is has been "very, very damaging to my work".

"I dried up completely about five years ago and can't write anything except to commission. I thought all the poetry had gone, but I feel some of it is still there and may yet return."

He also said he had no idea if the Queen even liked his poetry for, after his poem to mark her 60th wedding anniversary was read by Dame Judi Dench at Westminster Abbey, the Queen simply said “thank-you”. “I have no idea if she really liked it,” said Motion.

September 12, 2008