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Feminine Gospels Paperback – 3 Sep 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprints edition (3 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330486446
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330486446
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 0.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'Dazzling... Duffy deserves to outsell most of the novelists on your shelf' Observer 'One of the most important, and rightly loved, poets of our time' Independent 'In the world of British poetry, Carol Ann Duffy is a superstar' Guardian 'Witty, penetrating and lucid... Duffy's ingenuity and virtuosity are fully on display' Evening Standard

Book Description

A dazzling, dashing collection from the Poet Laureate.

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An amazing poetry collection! It's so beautifully read and is almost in the style of spoken word poetry. Would definitely recommend this to everyone interested!
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I have read anything I can get my hands on since I was a small child, but have never really been able to get into poetry. Apart from the little amount I did at school with my only remembered poem,"I wandered lonely as a cloud" by Wordsworth, I only recently decided to try poetry, hence Carol Ann Duffy as one bit of blurb I read, said "non-poetry readers should read her". I started with Feminine Gospels and found it very accessible.
It's an easy to read style despite the fact that I still expect poetry to rhyme! Her subjects encompass all female trials, tribulations and sufferings and indeed the human condition. I especially loved "The Diet" and "The Woman who shopped", which was so true to life and so close to home that I cringed at the words!
She really is a storyteller/chronicler of women of today and I can't believe I haven't discovered her before. I will now aim to read her other work while trying to not follow "the woman who shopped"!
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If you buy this looking for a lightweight view of the feminine in our world, you will be disappointed. I loved it, but there is little sign here of the poet who wrote some of the things that have delighted her readers and made us laugh. (Eurydice?) In this work she sets out her table very clearly as to what she does feel about feminism in our present world - read it, it is great.
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After reading the ecstatic newspaper reviews, I opened Feminine Gospels expecting not so much a volume of poetry as a quasi-religious experience; I didn’t quite receive one, but the collection is nevertheless very strong – if not quite up to the standard of her previous book, The World’s Wife.
As always, Carol Ann Duffy’s language is brilliantly structured, with rhymes cropping up unexpectedly and imagery that is both fresh and well chosen; this sets her work apart from much modern poetry, where the metaphors and similes are often original but try too hard to be smart, with the result that they are inapposite, conjuring up nothing other than confusion for the reader. In ‘A Dreaming Week’ the poem’s narrator is ‘dreaming/on the monocle of the moon/a sleeping S on the page of a bed/in the tome of a dim room.’ That scholastic imagery is palpably sharp, and the fact that the poet has achieved the lines’ musicality without making them seem either trite or dated bears testament to her skills.
The collection, focused (as the title suggests) on women, contains mostly very good poems, with a few great ones. ‘Beautiful’ is a moving history of strong women suffering in a male world, in which the leading character changes from Helen of Troy to Cleopatra, then to Marilyn Monroe, and finally to the less mourned-over Princess Diana, who ends the poem with ‘History’s stinking breath in her face.’ ‘The Diet’, about a woman who starves herself until she is size of an atom, ends with a marvellously literal take on the idea that inside every fat woman there’s a thin one trying to get out.
There are some weaker moments.
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I used to like Duffy.
Then I had to teach my poor, poor A Level Literature students this collection of self-absorbed, inaccessible, dull ridiculousness.
I felt so sorry for my students.
I would rather stab rusty nails into my eyes than read this again.
Do yourself a favour and do not waste several hours of your life in this depressingly bleak misery.
Truly terrible.
The Duffster should be ashamed
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Format: Paperback
Lack of interest in poetry, we're lead to believe, is due to its reputation as being either inaccessible, or irrelevant. The good news, if this is the case, is that the work of the newly appointed Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, refutes both of these notions. Her poetry engages with everyday experience, uses everyday language, and borrows the patterns and rhythms of poetry to weave something altogether fresh; and in no sense can insight or thought be said to have been sacrificed.

Feminine Gospels sees Duffy turn her uncompromising gaze on female identity, both in the modern world, and historically, using surrealism, fairytale and magic to breathe new life into familiar themes. The poems are exploratory, revisionist, playful, ironic, tender; celebrating, exposing and demythologising "woman".

Poems about women and everyday experience (work, history, the news, shopping) seem to characterise the beginning of this collection. "Beautiful" is a highlight; a longer poem that tells of (reclaims?) the beauty of Helen of Troy, Cleopatra, Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana.

"The Diet" is also excellent, and sees a woman with "guns for hips" shrinking, dwindling away until:

She lived in a tear, swam
clear, moved south to a mouth, kipped in the chap
of a lip.

She continues her journey and Jonahesque is "gulped, swallowed, sent down the hatch/in a river of wine..."

The long (20 page) narrative poem "The Laughter of Stafford Girls' High" comes two-thirds of the way through the collection. Whilst I'm not convinced of it being her best poetry; it's a sharply observed piece: an eventful and slightly surreal take on schoolgirl life.
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