Dryden's successors have been Thomas Shadwell (1688–92), Nahum Tate (1692–1715), Nicholas Rowe (1715–18), Laurence Eusden (1718–30), Colley Cibber (1730–57), William Whitehead (1757–85), Thomas Warton (1785–90), Henry Pye (1790–1813), Robert Southey (1813–43), William Wordsworth (1843–50), Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1850–92), Alfred Austin (1892–1913), Robert Bridges (1913–30), John Masefield (1930–67), Cecil Day Lewis (1968–72), John Betjeman (1972–84), Ted Hughes (1984–98), Andrew Motion (1999–2009), the first poet to serve a fixed 10-year term, and Carol Ann Duffy (2009–), Britain's first female laureate. In recent years the position's ceremonial duties have largely been eliminated, and it is no longer a lifetime post.
In the United States, the poet laureate is charged with raising
the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry. It is an annual position but may be held for a series of years the poet is chosen by the Librarian of Congress. It was instituted in 1937 as the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress and was held by 30 poets before an act of Congress (1985) changed the name to poet laureate. Robert Penn Warren became (1986) the first to hold the title of poet laureate in United States. His successors have been Richard Wilbur (1987–88), Howard Nemerov (1988–90), Mark Strand (1990–91), Joseph Brodsky (the first foreign-born laureate 1991–92), Mona Van Duyn (the first woman laureate 1992–93), Rita Dove (the first African-American laureate 1993–95), Robert Hass (1995–97), Robert Pinsky (1997–2000), Stanley Kunitz (2000–2001), Billy Collins (2001–3), Louise Glück (2003–4), Ted Kooser (2004–6), Donald Hall (2006–7), Charles Simic (2007–8), Kay Ryan (2008–10), W. S. Merwin (2010–11), Philip Levine (2011–12), Natasha Trethewey (2012–14), and Charles Wright (2014–).
See K. Hopkins, The Poets Laureate (1954, repr. 1966).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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