Teenagers vote for poet Heaney;Poll;Poets

29th January 1999 at 00:00
Seamus Heaney is the children's choice to be the next poet laureate according to a TES snapshot poll.

The Nobel prizewinner just edged out Simon Armitage whose choice of subjects - including Eric Cantona's retirement - proved popular among young people often turned off by more traditional poets.

The poll revealed the relative obscurity of many modern poets. Only 7 per cent of those surveyed had heard of Wendy Cope, the 5-2 bookies' favourite for the post. A quarter said they did not know who the next laureate should be. However, 60 per cent could name Ted Hughes, the last poet laureate, who died in October last year.

The first poet laureate was appointed in 1616 by James I. Early holders of the post received a butt of wine and a pension. Tony Blair is expected to make a recommendation on Ted Hughes' successor to the Queen early next month.

Despite being given only a 10-1 chance by William Hills, Seamus Heaney emerged as the winner from the survey of 265 15 to 17-year-old pupils, with 20 per cent of the vote.

Simon Armitage, the recently appointed millennium poet, was a close second with only four votes fewer than the winner. Benjamin Zephaniah was third.

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