I wanted to reimagine the role, in a way that was respectful of its traditional responsibilities but made them part of a wider pattern of poetry about national incidents, events, preoccupations; and to spend a great deal of time going to schools trying to demystify poetry.
But I can’t and don’t ever want to write bell-yanking confetti-tossing hat-throwing poems.
Thanks partly to the kind of poets that we now have and partly to funding, there’s been a gigantic shift in the way poetry is perceived… Poems on the Underground, poets in schools, football clubs, zoos.
There are plenty of examples of people who have had busy lives out there in the world, trying to do good, and written very well at the same time.
You see the names of places roundabout? They’re mine now, and I’ve turned them inside out.
In a fragile environment, we need to be aware of ourselves as members of a uniquely powerful species living among other species who are quite as interesting as we are but vulnerable to us because we are cleverer in more destructive ways.
I’m not much given to making shamanistic remarks about all this, but I’m a great believer in the dream life. If I can carry without spilling whatever it is that drips into my head in the night to my desk, then that’s valuable.
Pretty much the day I stopped being laureate, the poems that had been few and far between came back to me, like birds in the evening nesting in a tree.
I like eating out. I like buying beautiful paintings and being surrounded by beautiful things. I have to finance that life. I can barely afford a pension scheme because I don’t make enough money.
Pretty much every weekend, my wife and I have the shall-we-live-in-the-country conversation. I suppose it’s something to do with getting older and feeling I want to shed some of the things I’ve been doing for the last 20 years and go back to my roots.