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Duffy named Britain's poet laureate

LONDON, May 1 (UPI) -- Carol Ann Duffy, whose poetry has "stretched our imaginations," has been named Britain's first female poet laureate, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Friday.

Duffy, 53, joins a list that has been occupied by such literary giants as Dryden, Tennyson, Wordsworth and Ted Hughes, The New York Times reported.

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In choosing her to succeed Andrew Motion, Brown said: "She is a truly brilliant modern poet who has stretched our imaginations by putting the whole range of human experiences into lines that capture the emotions perfectly."

Duffy said the honor is a step forward for all female poets.

The Scottish poet said she had debated whether to accept the post, The Guardian reported.

"The decision was purely because they hadn't had a woman," Duffy said. "I look on it as recognition of the great women poets we now have writing, like Alice Oswald."

The post of poet laureate was created 341 years ago to honor national and royal occasions by commissioning poets for them. It has evolved over time, with Motion being credited with imbuing the position with new relevance by using it as platform to bring poetry education into schools and starting the Poetry Archive, which the Times said is a compendium of poets reading their work aloud.

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Duffy said she wants "to contribute to people's understanding of what poetry can do" and where it can be found.

Accepting the post will mean increased public scrutiny, but Duffy said she is determined to keep her life private.

"I'm a very private person and I will continue to fiercely protect my privacy and my daughter," she said.

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