Carol Ann Duffy (Scotland)

 
 

Carol Ann Duffy born 1955 is an award-winning Scottish poet and from 2009 till 2019 first woman to be appointed the United Kingdom’s poet laureate.

She is professor of contemporary poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Her collection “Rapture” won the T.S. Elliot prize in 2005 and her latest book “Sincerity” was published in 2018 by Picador.

Duffy’s verses gave voice to people on margins of society and have always had a strong feminist edge; she has never been a poet of establishment, as highlighted by Poetry Foundation.

 
 
Standing Female Nude from Standing Female Nude
 
“Six hours like this for a few francs.
Belly nipple arse in the window light,
he drains the colour from me. Further to the right,
Madame. And do try to be still.
I shall be represented analytically and hung
in great museums. The bourgeoisie will coo
at such an image of a river-whore. They call it Art.
…”

 
 

Raised catholic and educated at St. Joseph’s convent school, she became an atheist at the age of 15. She openly declared herself lesbian in the 1993 collection “Mean Time”. The book, very well received among youth, was included in level-A curriculum.

 
 
the Good Teachers from Mean Time
 
“…
You love Miss Pirie. So much, you are top
of her class. So much, you need two of you
to stare out from the year, serious, passionate.
The River’s Tale by Rudyard Kipling by heart.
Her kind intelligent green eye. Her cruel blue one.
You are making a poem up for her in your head.

But not Miss Sheridan. Comment vous appelez.
But not Miss Appleby. Equal to the square
of the other two sides. Never Miss Webb.
Dar es Salaam. Kilimanjaro. Look. The good teachers
swish down the corridor in long, brown skirts,
snobbish and proud and clean and qualified.
…”

 
 

Carol Ann Duffy wrote and writes passionately and unashamedly about love and everything that comes along, desire, jealousy, sex, rage, resentment, despair.

A 2006 Guardian review on her collection “Rapture” states: “Duffy is a very brave poet. Only pop songs are braver in their use of repetition, and in “Finding the Words” she succeeds in making an ordinary “I love you” into something extraordinary. Only gameshow hosts are braver in their use of puns, and in “Fall” she rushes headlong through at least five meanings of the word, to end with another pun in “your passionate gravity”.

 
 
Night Marriage from Rapture
 
“When I turn off the light
and the dark mile between us
crumples and falls,
you slip from your self to wait for me in my sleep,
the face of the moon sinking Into a cloud;
 
or I wake bereaved
from the long hours
I spend in your dreams,
an owl in the forest crying its soft vowels,
dark fish swimming under the river’s skin.
 
Night marriage. The small hours join us,
face to face as we sleep and dream;
the whole of the huge night is our room.”

 
 

Ilaria Boffa

 
 
 
 

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