Sunday, May 3, 2009

Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate

I was excited to read that Britain has just named its first female poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. Aside from being the first woman, she is also the first Scot and the first (at least openly) non-heterosexual.

Since I am an American who -- despite years of writing so-called poetry in my teens -- has not read contemporary poetry for almost 30 years, I had not heard of Duffy until I read the AP story about her in the Star Tribune yesterday.

But I loved the poem included with the story:


I want to call you thou,
the sound
of the shape at the start
of a kiss -- like this -- thou --
and to say, after, I love,
thou, I love, thou I love, not
I love you.

Because I so do --
as we say now -- I wanted to say
thee, I adore, I adore thee
and to know in my lips
the syntax of love resides,
and to gaze in thine eyes.

Love's language starts, stops, starts;
the right words flowing or
clotting in the heart.
It's wonderful to read aloud, and I love how it makes all those words that usually seem archaic and pretentious instead sound natural and sensuous. The poem is sibilant and soothing until you get to that word clotting, which sounds harsh and abrupt, just like a clot.

From what I read in the rest of the story, Duffy's work in general sounds like something I would want to read -- one collection is called The World's Wife, in which the poems "adopt the voices of female historical figures and the wives of famous men. It includes the poem 'Mrs. Darwin': '7 April 1852/Went to the Zoo/I said to him -- Something about that chimpanzee over there reminds me of you.' "

Something else to add to my Future Favorites list!

No comments: