The new Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has said it “fantastic” that she is an openly gay writer.

At her first conference since accepting the position, she said: “Sexuality is something that is celebrated now we have civil partnerships and it’s fantastic that I’m an openly gay writer, and anyone here or watching the interviews who feels shy or uncomfortable about their sexuality should celebrate and be confident and be happy.

“It’s a lovely, ordinary, normal thing.”

Speaking in Manchester today, she also discussed poetry, royal poems and her new role at the conference at the John Rylands University Library.

She said: “It’s not a job. I have been able to relinquish myself from any financial commitment by giving the money to the Poetry Society to establish a prize so I’ll just continue reading my poems and writing my poems as I always have.

“Poetry matters to people in this country, poetry is a place we can go to for comfort, celebration, when we’re in love, when we’re bereaved and sometimes for events that happen to us as a nation.

“Poetry comes from the imagination, from memories, from experience, from events both personal and public so I will be following the truth of that and I will write whatever needs to be written.”

Ms Duffy is best-known for her works Standing Female Nude (1985) and Selling Manhattan (1987).

Her work is included on the national curriculum for schools and frequently features themes of sexuality, inequality and bereavement.