John Agard, awarded Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry

Guyanese, John Agard, awarded Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry

December 22, 2012 | By KNews |

John Agard

John Agard

Guyanese poet joins a host of distinguished names including WH Auden, Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin.

Britain – Buckingham Palace has announced that the poet John Agard is to be awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2012. The decision was made by the Poetry Medal Committee headed by the Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. It was based on Agard’s most recently published works, Alternative Anthem: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2009) and his collection of poems for children, Goldilocks on CCTV (Frances Lincoln, 2011).         

The Guyana-born poet is the only second black writer to receive the award, after the Trinidadian Derek Walcott who won in 1988. The award was founded by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate John Masefield. The scope of the award was extended to include writers from the Commonwealth in 1985.

Agard joins other distinguished recipients of the award including WH Auden, John Betjeman, Robert Graves, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Les Murray, Siegfried Sassoon, Stephen Spender and RS Thomas. Last year it was awarded to Jo Shapcott. Carol Ann Duffy said of the decision: “John Agard has always made people sit up and listen. He has done this with intelligence, humour and generosity.

“He has the ability to temper anger with wit and difficult truths with kindness. He levels the ground beneath all our feet, whether he is presenting Dante to children or introducing his own (Guyanan) culture to someone who hasn’t encountered it before.”

One of Agard’s most popular poems, Half-Caste, featured on the GCSE syllabus for many years. It is a wry analysis of racial prejudices and misconceptions.
Agard commented: “When told the news out of the blues on the phone by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, I couldn’t believe my ears and it took a little time to sink in. I am delighted as well as touched to be in the company of such names as Charles Causley, Norman MacCaig, Gilian Clarke, Stevie Smith and Derek Walcott.”

Agard grew up in 1950s Georgetown, Guyana. In 1977 he moved to the UK, and he has lived in Lewes, East Sussex, since 1978. He is a poet, performer and anthologist and has published many books of poetry both for adults and children.
The medal will be presented to Agard by the Queen in 2013. (

also look at the following  articles on John Agard as compiled by the St. Stanislaus College website  …  Congratulations to Alumnus Johnnie Agard!


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  • Deen  On 12/23/2012 at 3:26 am

    Outstanding poetic achievement. Congratulations! John Agard.

  • Ken Corsbie  On 12/23/2012 at 3:36 am

    Very well deserved. class is class

  • needybad4u  On 12/23/2012 at 9:00 am

    Congratulations John Agard ! We are happy to know that you have been awarded the QGMP. Now, more than ever before, your name will filter across the literary world.

  • Dmitri Allicock  On 12/23/2012 at 12:50 pm

    Well done and well deserved by a great son of Guyana. Congratulations John Agard. you make us very proud.

  • Z. Tony Rahim  On 12/23/2012 at 2:22 pm

    Another great talent recognized the world over. Pity out own Government will only jump on the bandwagon…after…recognition is already gained, when they could have assisted all our talented children as they fight for the top. Congratulations Brother!

  • deanna peterson  On 12/23/2012 at 5:19 pm

    I bought, “The Calypso Alphabet
    E is for eh eh

  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On 12/23/2012 at 8:12 pm

    Congratulations, John Agard!

  • Sgrft  On 12/23/2012 at 9:56 pm

    Congratulations to you John Agard. Cheryl Pieters-Choo Kang

  • deanna peterson  On 12/24/2012 at 2:28 am

    I congradulate Mr. Agard. I bought one of his books.
    I have to mention that it is a shame that Sir Philip Sherlock was not mentioned. Philip Sherlock was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II. The man together with A.J.Newman. wrote our Caribbean Readers. I am just an observer, but how do think those two men family feel when they read your article.

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