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A Moon Wrapped In Brown Paper

I have shamefully little knowledge of (or interest in, mostly) poetry for an English grad and book lover, but I was really pleased to hear that Carol Ann Duffy has been named as the new Poet Laureate. I mean, the postition is kind of anachronistic and pointless and random, but if we're going to have one, I'm glad we have her. Britain's has had a Poet Laureate consistently for something over 400 years (and occasionally before that). They've included Spenser, Dryden, Wordsworth, Tennyson, & co. And Duffy is the first Scot, the first female, and the first gay person to hold the position, so that's some achievement. (Well, openly gay, I suppose - can't speak for some of the obscurer 18th century people.) She gets to write poems for state occasions and monarch's birthdays and so on, which'll be interesting, because she's quite modern.

This is probably her most famous poem, Valentine:

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.

It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding ring,
if you like.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

And here's Education For Leisure, which was banned from the school syllabus for being too violent, in a spectactular example of missing the point.

The Huff Post has an article about her appointment, and she did an interesting interview with Jeanette Winterson a couple of years ago.

Also, the Book People are doing three of her books for a fiver just now...



( 2 comments — Comment )
May. 2nd, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
I was so happy to hear about this, especially after the furore ten years ago when she went in a total huff and said she wouldn't now even if they asked her. I would have respected her decision if she'd kept her word, but I'm glad she broke it. Maybe we'll see some interesting official poetry this time round.

Any word on whether she's going to stick with Motion's motion (get it?) that it only be a ten year post, or is it going to revert back to being for life?
May. 2nd, 2009 08:17 pm (UTC)
From what I've read, they're sticking with the ten-year thing, which is really more sensible, I guess. I was a bit gobsmacked when I realised there had been all of 24 poet laureates covering the last 450 years or so!
( 2 comments — Comment )


bad wolf
Notes from extinction

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