1 May 2009


Carol Ann Duffy as Poet Laureate? How terribly risque! How politically correct can we get? A Scottish lesbian lecturer with a kid from working class Glasgow and a big ugly mush. The only trouble is that she is, in my view, a very ordinary poet who fails to move me very much or impress me with her predictable linguistic dexterity. Today many words have been said and written about her but below I give you one of her poems - after all this is why she has been appointed isn't it? Maybe not. I see little merit in such oily self-indulgence. Perhaps readers of this post could enlighten me.

Words, Wide Night
by Carol Ann Duffy

Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.

This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say
it is sad? In one of the tenses I am singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.

La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine the dark hills I would have to cross
to reach you. For I am in love with you
and this is what it is like or what it is like in words.

No Carol Ann, don't cross it out and say it is sad - just cross it out and chuck it in the bin! And another thing... why isn't she just simply Carol Duffy? What's with the pretentious insertion of Ann? Most of us have middle names but never use them in everyday communication. Did she have to separate herself from Carol Duffy the all-in wrestler or Carol Duffy the Gorbals pawnbroker? Myself, I'd have gone for Roger McGough who has in his own way moved me and has also done much to win young people over to poetry during his fifty years as a writer...even pre-dating the Merseyside scene of the early sixties in which he played his part - influencing to some small degree the lyrics of Lennon and McCartney.


  1. Ok, that IS a duff duffy poem, but how can you not love five finger-piglets?

  2. I think you are right, YP. I haven't been very impressed with her so far either. Although it's nice to have a woman appointed to the post, I wonder if it has been done purely for that reason. Roger McGough would be an excellent choice.
    I am a bit disappointed, though, as I thought this was going to be a post about Duffy (singer)! ;)

  3. I am indebted to you, YP, for the photo of CAD and an example of her poetry as I, being the philistine from across the water, knew of neither Carol Ann Duffy nor Roger McGough (McGuff? McGoo? McGaw?).

    Her poetry strikes me as pedestrian, but then, so does some of my own. To quote playwright Peter Shaffer's words in the mouth of actor F. Murray Abraham in the role of Antonio Scalieri in the film Amadeus: "I speak for the mediocrities of the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint."

    The U.S. poet laureate since 2008 has been Kay Ryan, which see. Carol Ann Duffy has it all over her in the looks department. But what do you think of her poetry?

  4. Anonymous7:50 am

    Great stuff man! LOL!

  5. MOPSA The poem you refer to is good but at a shallow, primary school level. Hardly fitting of a Poet Laureate.
    JENNYTA Now that Duffy I like - even though she is Welsh. She has a good pair of lungs!
    RHYMES Good Lord! I thought you were kidding about Kay Ryan's presentability! No wonder she writes poems. What do I think of her poetry? Quite honestly, you and I could do better... "Transatlantic Poems" By Robert Brague and Sir Yorkshire Pudding. It would be a bestseller.

  6. The poem doesn't thrill me. If it repelled me, that would be something to think about, but it doesn't even do that.

  7. Please write the book, transatlantic bards!

  8. I think they should have offered if to Armitage, and he should have told them where to stick it, in his own understated quietly observational softly spoken way that is

    That poem does read like a parody doesn't it? and people think my poems are bad...

  9. I know poetry is subjective - - but the one you quote is just dull and trite. The Five Finger Piglets one is clever - verse rather than poetry, I'd say. Roger McGough on the other hand - - excellent, and we once shared a hall with him on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and he was a jolly nice chap too.

  10. YP - I know it is far from genius, but there are times (like now) when one needs something lighthearted and easy to swallow... and there's too many inedible chunks being thrown at us by politicians and banker/wankers as it is. And Andrew Motion is not a great poet either.

  11. I think it's ironic that somebody as anti-establishment as Duffy is both in her literary and non-literary personas should accept such an establishment position.

    Her poetry, although interesting, concentrates on feminist issues too much. I can only agree with YP here though she's certainly no weaver of language.

    Ted Hughes (as great a poet as he was) equally seemed to cop out taking the 'top job'.

  12. Oh I don't know, she has done some good stuff too. I quite liked The World's Wife stuff, I thought it was nicely observed, admittedly fairly easy going but then that's of the age isn't it?

    I mean, Betjamin was great, but he was easy going too wasn't he?

    That's the nature of the Laureate position - what's the point of having someone write about events of supposed national significance if it takes you half an hour to decipher the first couple of stanzas?

    Horses for courses, I say.

  13. CROFTY Well defended! You're like the Rio Ferdinand of poetry appreciation. I bet you secretly fancy Carol Ann. No need to feel ashamed of such lurid fantasies.

  14. Yes indeed, you do have a point- it was well defended. (better than the Hull back four anyhow...)

    In my opinion poets should have 'balls' otherwise what's the point?

    I shall resist the temptation to make a lewd and inappropriate joke about Ms Duffy and whether she has 'balls'...


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