A depiction of Torquato Tasso from a German encyclopedia, 1905. Note the laurel crown.
A poet laureate is a poet officially appointed by the government of a country. He or she is responsible for writing poems for special occasions in that country, for example a coronation or military victory.
The first official Poet Laureate was Ben Jonson in 1619. There are also Poets Laureate in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.
The Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom is Carol Ann Duffy. She was appointed Poet Laureate on 1 May 2009 to take the place of Andrew Motion. She is the first British woman Poet Laureate.