Carol Ann Duffy to mark demise of gas meters with new poem

She is most often found tackling heavyweight topics such as the war in Afghanistan or the MPs expenses scandal.

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy with her old-school meter. Picture: Mikael Buck

But now Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy is to turn her hand to a tribute to the demise of the traditional electricity and gas meters as they make way for new, digital technology.

Glasgow-born Duffy has been working on the ode to the meter for the past few months and is due to publish her latest work in the summer.

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The traditional meter is to be replaced by smart meters in every UK household by 2020.

Duffy, who received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2009, said: “Gas and electricity meters have been a fixture under stairs and in cupboards for more than a hundred years, so it felt fitting to preserve their place in household history with a poem.

“It is definitely one of my most unusual projects, but hopefully I’m able to produce a piece that captures the last whirs of these spinning machines before they make way for their digital counterparts.”

Last year, Duffy, who was appointed as Poet Laureate by the Queen in May 2009, wrote a poem, Richard, to mark the reinternment of Richard III at Leicester Cathedral, while she also wrote a 46-line piece, Rings, for the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Another work as Poet Laureate, Last Post, was commissioned by the BBC to mark the deaths of Henry Allingham and Harry Patch, the last two British soldiers to fight in World War I. Sacha Deshmukh, chief executive of Smart Energy GB, said: “There is a great British tradition of marking national moments with poetry. Carol Ann Duffy, as our national Poet Laureate, is the perfect person to express the significance of the demise of traditional meters and the transformation that will come about as a result of smart meters.”

In November last year, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra performed ‘A Requiem for Meters’, a three-minute piece of music played entirely on instruments made from old gas and electricity meters. The Requiem was recorded at Abbey Road Studios and released for free on Spotify.

More than three million smart meters have already been installed across Great Britain, allowing householders to pinpoint where they can cut down on electricity and gas useage.