Money talks carol ann duffy

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money talks carol ann duffy

New Selected Poems, 1984-2004 by Carol Ann Duffy


One of the first poems I remember seeing as part of the Poems on the Underground project was Carol Ann Duffys ‘Prayer’, which I first read westbound somewhere on the Central Line in my early twenties and thought it was the most beautiful thing imaginable:

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade One piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a childs name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radios prayer –
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.


It would probably be a romantic lie to say that I missed my stop, but certainly the poem left a huge impression on me; I dont think its been out of my memory since – and perhaps its not easy to understand why, for those who did not grow up in Britain in a house where the shipping news on Radio Four was a constant, coded background companion, mysterious, reverential.

Duffy has always been a popular poet in the UK, inasmuch as any poet can be said to be popular. Her style – as evidenced above – is built on simple, everyday language used in carefully spring-loaded ways. (She has said more than once that she dislikes ‘Seamus Heaney words’, such as plash.) I find her a bit more uneven than perhaps some of her fans do, but when she succeeds she does so in a spectacular way, at least to my tastes.

This collection dates to five years before she was named Poet Laureate in 2009. It contains famous anthologised pieces like the sultry, lesbo-erotic ‘Warming her Pearls’ or the ingenuous ‘Valentine’ (‘Not a red rose or a satin heart. I give you an onion’); it also contains more notorious pieces like ‘Education for Leisure’, which was banned from the GCSEs because it supposedly glorified knife crime.

Some of her later books were based around themes; there is an especially generous selection here from the excellent The Worlds Wife (1999), which inhabits the viewpoint of women associated with famous men in history – Mrs Aesop, Frau Freud, Queen Kong, etc. Many of these are a way for her to make some astringent comments on male-centric views of history, although others are rather sweet:

Anne Hathaway

The bed we loved in was a spinning world
of forests, castles, torchlight, cliff-tops, seas
where he would dive for pearls. My lovers words
were shooting stars which fell to earth as kisses
on these lips; my body now a softer rhyme
to his, now echo, assonance; his touch
a verb dancing in the centre of a noun.
Some nights I dreamed hed written me, the bed
a page beneath his writers hands. Romance
and drama played by touch, by scent, by taste.
In the other bed, the best, our guests dozed on,
dribbling their prose. My living laughing love –
I hold him in the casket of my widows head
as he held me upon that next best bed.


Im quoting my favourites here, not the most representative ones by any means. There is something about the fourteen lines of a sonnet that slots perfectly into the way I think, but actually Duffy writes in all kinds of forms. Her verse is, though, rarely entirely formless and free.

The latest book represented in here is 2002s Feminine Gospels, which includes one of her longest and best, a poem called ‘The Laughter of Stafford Girls High’. If you have three-quarters of an hour to kill you can listen to Joanna Lumley reading the adapted-for-radio version here, and I strongly recommend it.

She was the first Scottish Poet Laureate, the first female Laureate and the first openly gay Laureate – but lining up the various categories seems irritating because her work is expansively all-inclusive. Shes one of those rare poets that have literary cachet and popular appeal all in one – ‘the reason and rhyme’, as she says somewhere, prowling ‘at the edge of the limelight’.
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Published 26.03.2019

Carol Ann Duffy, British Poet Laureate, March 3, 2015, Emory Libraries

W hen Carol Ann Duffy was appointed poet laureate in , the first woman to hold the post in its nearly year history, she set herself several goals that included setting up new prizes, giving support to new festivals and helping to generate commissions for poets. But she had only one goal for herself as a practising poet. There always had been a public element to my work, particularly during the Thatcher years, and I think all poets, to a greater or lesser degree, need to have a finger on the national pulse.
Carol Ann Duffy

You by Carol Ann Duffy

In her new collection, Sincerity , her last as laureate, Duffy is not pulling any punches. Again she has fun with another ancient form, this time the sestina, used — as the title suggests — to make a political objection, in which six key words are rotated in a strict pattern as line endings, all coming together in a furious finale. She pulls a face. Fifty years later we are all traumatised by Grenfell … these national disasters that have a principle or cause about them. There is a refrain of mourning running through Sincerity. You still are a parent, but that kind of daily devotional ritual is gone.

This collection consists mainly of love poems which is far from surprising given the title of the collection. The poem is filled with passionate metaphors and uses very provocative language. It is highly sexualised and may well be more about lust rather than love. This poem appears in a similar form to a sonnet but is not a sonnet. It is separated into three quatrains and a couplet, but the line length is inconsistent and there is no discernible rhyming pattern.

Semantic field of luxury; Word choice progresses from gold to black throughout the poem. Last 2 lines allude to negative use of money.
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Second stanza

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Jump to navigation. I'm not dealing with facts, I'm dealing with emotion. She is one of Britain's best known and most admired poets. Her poems appeal to those who wouldn't usually read poetry and they appear on the national curriculum. Here, an Observer reviewer celebrates her popularity and her technical adroitness: "Duffy's poems are at once accessible and brilliantly idiosyncratic and subtle". She writes of life in all its sadness - life, as what Eliot calls, that "infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing".

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