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The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2017

Published 19 December 2017

The Queen has approved the award of Her Majesty’s Gold Medal for Poetry for the year 2017 to Paul Muldoon

The Poetry Medal Committee has recommended the poet Paul Muldoon as this year's recipient of The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, on the basis of the body of his work.

Mr Muldoon was born in County Armagh in 1951 and studied at Queen’s University, Belfast, before publishing his first collection of poetry in 1973, and working as a BBC producer in Northern Ireland; in 1981 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Mr Muldoon has produced twelve major collections of poetry as well as books for children, song lyrics, opera libretti and works of criticism. He has lived chiefly in the United States for the last thirty years, teaching at Princeton University (since 1987) and editing The New Yorker (2007-17). His work has received many awards both in the UK and abroad, including the Pulitzer Prize (2003). Mr Muldoon was Professor of Poetry at Oxford University 1999-2004. He holds joint British/United States nationality.

Summing up the Committee's choice, The Poet Laureate, Dame Carol Ann Duffy, said:
Paul Muldoon is widely acclaimed as the most original and influential poet of the past 50 years and is rightly celebrated alongside Seamus Heaney. His poetry displays a restless playful brilliance, forever searching for new ways to channel his ideas and new language to dress them in. He is ambitious, erudite, witty and musical. He can experiment with form and stand tradition on its head, craft a tender elegy or intimate love poem with equal skill. His work is of major significance internationally – poetry of clarity, invention, purpose and importance which has raised the bar of what’s possible in poetry to new heights.

Mr Muldoon will be presented with the medal by The Queen in 2018.

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. 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 poet will be from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth realm, and the poems will have been published.

The front 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
2012       John Agard
2013       Douglas Dunn
2014       Imtiaz Dharker
2015       Liz Lochhead
2016       Gillian Allnutt