Monday, 14 February 2011

Mean Time by Carol Ann Duffy

I'm rubbish at writing about poetry collections unless I'm writing an essay and have a specific question to answer, so this will be short and sweet. I'm going to use the interview style as I'm hoping it'll prompt more from my head.

Why this author and this collection? I've read and loved three previous collections by Duffy (The World's Wife, Rapture and Feminine Gospels) plus we use Duffy's poetry in school a lot. I always love the way she expresses herself, her raw emotions and recurring themes. I'm hoping to read a lot more poetry this year and thought adding a Duffy book to my Christmas list might spur me on. This one was simply the first collection I hadn't read of hers on the amazon page.

How would you describe the poems in 'Mean Time'?The poems in this collection seem to centre largely around the teenage period in her life. They are often about school, especially early on in the collection. Moving through the collection she grows up and reflects on love affairs and relationships. Having said that, some of them don't seem to fit, for example the poem 'Havisham' which I've taught for years and always assumed come from The World's Wife.

Any favourite poems or lines?
I think my favourite poems were 'Brothers', 'Before you Were Mine' (which I love to teach), 'First Love' and 'Small Female Skull'.
This collection also features the poem 'Valentine' the antithesis to today and all the heart shape cookies and teddies. I love the opening:
'Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper,
It promises light
Like the careful undressing of love.'

Click on the link above to read the rest.

Will this become a favourite collection?

I don't think that this will replace The World's Wife which I love but there are certainly poems in the collection I will return to again and again. The collection will sit on the shelves and be pulled out and browsed through many times.

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