Friday, January 04, 2013

The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2012 goes to John Agard

The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2012
The Queen has approved the award of Her Majesty’s Gold Medal for Poetry for the year 2012 to John Agard.
Background and Biography
The Poetry Medal Committee met at Windsor on 23rd November and was in agreement that Mr Agard should be nominated for this year’s award, on the basis of his body of work over several years. In particular, the Committee considered Mr Agard’s most recent published volume, Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems (2009), as well as his book of children’s poems Goldilocks on CCTV (2011).
Mr Agard grew up in Georgetown, Guyana, in the 1950s. In 1977 he moved to the UK where he has lived ever since: in London working – as a touring speaker  – for the Commonwealth Institute, and for the National Maritime Museum); and now in Lewes (East Sussex). His first books were published before his move to the UK. He has produced numerous volumes of prose and verse, winning the Paul Hamlyn Award for Poetry in 1997 and the Cholmondeley Award in 2004.
The Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has said:
John Agard has always made people sit up and listen. He has done this with intelligence, humour and generosity. He has the ability to temper anger with wit and difficult truths with kindness. He levels the ground beneath all our feet, whether he is presenting Dante to children or introducing his own (Guyanan) culture to someone who hasn't encountered it before. In performance he is electrifying - compelling, funny, moving and thought-provoking. His work in Education over years has changed the way that readers, writers and teachers think about poetry.’ 
History of the Gold Medal for Poetry
The Gold Medal for Poetry was instituted by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield. Recommendations for the award of the Medal are made by a committee of eminent men and women of letters, selected by the Poet Laureate (Carol Ann Duffy).
The Medal is awarded for excellence in poetry, on the basis either of a body of work over several years, or for an outstanding poetry collection issued during the year of the award. The poems will have been published. The poet will be from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth realm.  The obverse of the medal bears the crowned effigy of The Queen.  The idea of the reverse, which was designed by the late Edmund Dulac, is “Truth is emerging from her well and holding in her right hand the divine flame of inspiration – Beauty is Truth and Truth Beauty”.
Previous recipients of The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry
1934      Laurence Whistler
1936      W H Auden
1940      Michael Thwaites
1952      Andrew Young
1953      Arthur Waley
1954      Ralph Hodgson
1955      Ruth Pitter
1956      Edmund Blunden
1957      Siegfried Sassoon
1959      Frances Cornford
1960      John Betjeman
1962      Christopher Fry
1963      William Plomer
1964      R S Thomas
1965      Philip Larkin
1967      Charles Causley
1968      Robert Graves
1969      Stevie Smith
1970      Roy Fuller
1971      Sir Stephen Spender
1973      John Heath-Stubbs
1981      D J Enright
1986      Norman MacCaig
1988      Derek Walcott
1989      Allen Curnow
1990      Sorley  Maclean
1991      Judith Wright
1992      Kathleen Raine
1996      Peter Redgrove
1998      Les Murray
2000      Edwin Morgan
2001      Michael Longley
2002      Peter Porter
2003      U A Fanthorpe
2004      Hugo Williams
2006      Fleur Adcock
2007      James Fenton
2009      Don Paterson
2010      Gillian Clarke
2011      Jo Shapcott

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