Philip Larkin

To Graham Lord—11 August 1984

The University of Hull
The Brynmor Jones Library

POETRY I am afraid the compulsion to write poems left me about seven years ago, since when I have written virtually nothing. Naturally this is a disappointment, but I would sooner write no poems than bad poems.

POET LAUREATESHIP I think the above circumstance disqualifies me for the Laureateship. A Laureate can fall silent, but he cannot be dumb from the start. Latterly it has been suggested that the Laureate should be a kind of “Mr. Poetry” and concern himself (or herself) with promoting poetry on a national basis, but this would not suit me either. Poetry to me has always been an intensely private thing, and I have avoided all its public manifestations.

There are several excellent poets of whom none of the above is true, and I expect one of them to be appointed. The office itself, linking as it does poetry and sovereignty, is a unique honor and should be treasured and preserved, but the temptation to turn it into a “job” should be resisted…

—Philip Larkin, Selected Letters of Philip Larkin (1940-1985), ed. Anthony Thwaite, London: Faber and Faber, 1992, page 716

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