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on 7 July 2017
Prompt delivery. Book had previously been owned by a student who had scribbled their notes all over it making parts virtually unreadable.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 5 December 2009
These are excepts from four other volumes of poetry as well as six poems from The World's Wife. I particularly liked the latter, with particularly amusing viewpoints from Mrs Midas, and Mrs Aesop. I also particularly liked two poems from the collection "Selling Manhattan:" "Miles Away," - about missing someone - and "The Virgin Punishing the Infant:" - about the difficulties of being the mother of God when he was a baby. I also liked "Moments of Grace" from "Mean Time," about experiences that make life worth living. This is the first volume of poetry I have read right through and enjoyed for a very long time.
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on 27 March 2017
The 1p secondhand copy I bought was signed by Carol Ann Duffy: a pleasant surprise.

The poems are tender, elegiac and consummately skilled. Worth buying for ‘Prayer’ alone.
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on 9 October 2009
Looking at the last review I suppose its hard to believe this work as credible.

This is a person who writes from heart, belief & experience.

It is clever, incisive, witty, incredibly funny, poignant, dark and so much more.

It displays method as much as content.

From Mrs Darwen to the Onion. Education to Leisure gives a gritty account of an individuals pain.
I want to learn all areas not just 1.

But this is a great place to start
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on 29 November 2000
Carol Ann Duffy is blessed with the rare gift of describing people and things as they really are, from the inside. Here, you will see people you know, in situations you have been in. Every word is precisely right, in the most satisfying way imaginable. She is not only thematically, but also technically, brilliant. Her poems have new levels which appear with every re-reading. I will never tire of reading this book. Do yourself a favour and buy a copy.
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on 4 November 2015
I think that there is little doubt that Carol Ann Duffy is the most accomplished of living British poets. Her role as Poet Laureate is of no real significance and it is unlikely that she will ever draw the recognition and affection reserved for such as John Betjeman and Philip Larkin, whose readership extended beyond those with academic literary interests. In part, this is due to her subject matter, or at least its heavy emphasis on feminist issues. In addition a number of her poems – “Shooting Stars”, “Havisham” and “Psychopath” for example, are not for those of a queasy disposition. They are deeply disturbing, and that they are so, is of course a tribute to the power of the best of her writing.

Even in the early poems it is clear that Ms. Duffy is a master of her craft. A poem such as “War Photographer” reveals this, even if what it has to say is scarcely original, nor its communication subtle. There is probably a common perception that the majority of her poems are dark and earnest, but this is to ignore the wit and sometimes exuberant sense of fun, that she brings to much of her poetry. “Valentine” may offer us a rather sour view of the realities of relationships, which are scarcely seen as joyful or nourishing, but she does so with a rich inventiveness that we can enjoy even if we question the cynicism that colours not only the media portrayal of courtship rituals, but love itself – within cutting distance of the knife, “lethal”.

Later a marvellous sense of incongruity raises more than a smile in such poems as the enormously enjoyable “Mrs Midas”. This is one of a series of poems, featuring the wives of famous men, all with feminist sentiments at the heart of them, but richly diverse in other respects. Even the title “Mrs Midas” is funny. The poem shows as many others do Duffy’s skill in her use of the dramatic monologue. She has come a long way here from the rather laboured “Stealing” in an earlier phase of her career. This feel for how the dramatic monologue allows the speaker to condemn himself from his own mouth, is handled with surprising authenticity. “Psychopath” is just one notable example.

A great deal more could be said about the range of Duffy’s poetic achievement, but this is not a full scale critical analysis. I hope it is not starting to sound like one! In ending, it is interesting to note that Duffy owes a considerable debt to Philip Larkin, whose not always muted misogyny suggests that he might be an unlikely influence. These “Selected Poems” seem to me to place Duffy as the finest poet since Larkin and she may yet go on to greater things. Already she has shown that she can poetically renew herself without losing a grip on the themes that inform her writing.
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on 7 July 2014
Carol Ann Duffy is the Poet Laureate – a first for any female poet. She is a true original, then, regardless of the huge list of male poets who have come before her. Her work is like her, truly original. It is grounded, sound in every sense, while also being sinewy, unexpected, and often tenderly beautiful.

“ Poetry, above all,” says Duffy, “Is a series of intense moments - its power is not in narrative. I'm not dealing with facts, I'm dealing with emotion.” Nevertheless, she does use narrative, in, for instance her controversial series of feminist poems about the wives of various famous men. Some men who can’t see the joke still reserve a right to be dismissive. Poor things. One of the poems in this collection particularly struck me as indicative of the range and reach of Duffy’s talents and skill. Originally is a poem of universal narrative, proving that poetry can sometimes reach much further than merely aesthetics.

Originally

We came from our own country in a red room
which fell through the fields, our mother singing
our father’s name to the turn of the wheels.
My brothers cried, one of them bawling Home,
Home, as the miles rushed back to the city,
the street, the house, the vacant rooms
where we didn’t live any more. I stared
at the eyes of a blind toy, holding its paw.

All childhood is an emigration. Some are slow,
leaving you standing, resigned, up an avenue
where no one you know stays. Others are sudden.
Your accent wrong. Corners which seem familiar
leading to unimagined pebble-dashed estates, big boys
eating worms and shouting words you don’t understand.
My parents’ anxiety stirred like a loose tooth
in my head. I want our own country, I said.

But then you forget, or don’t recall, or change,
and, seeing your brother swallow a slug, feel only
a skelf of shame. I remember my tongue
shedding its skin like a snake, my voice
in the classroom sounding just like the rest. Do I only think
I lost a river, culture, speech, sense of the first space
and the right place? Now, Where do you come from?
strangers ask. Originally? And I hesitate.

This poem demonstrates both the universality of childhood experiences and the skill that Duffy has in recognising that its not just immigrants who feel like aliens – and then take on what the world demands.
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on 22 June 2009
Carol Ann Duffy, the first woman poet laureate, explores many different themes in this selection of poems from childhood memories to relationships.
Her poems are accessible and entertaining and yet she is touching, sensitive and witty.
Joyce Akesson, author of Love's Thrilling Dimensions
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on 26 June 2009
I had to trawl through half the book to find any half-decent ideas. I cannot say that the poet is able to describe life as it is. Her poems, instead seem to be collections of rough ideas in draft form, totally unworked. This makes them little more than drivel at the end of the day. This is not to say there aren't any gems of ideas hidden in the poems, but you will have to drag through quite a lot of rubbish before you find them.
I would not recommend this poet's work until she learns to edit her material and rework the ideas into sensible poetry instead of leaving it as jumbles of words.
P.S.
After continuing on beyond about halfway I did come across a string of three rather brilliant poems so she does have talent. It is just frustrating to see how many of her rough drafts are passed-off as publishable.
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on 16 May 2009
Ms Duffy has recently been appointed Poet Laureate, the first women so honoured. This collection goes a long way to explaining why. Her subject is herself and, through a deep examination of her experiences, thoughts, and feelings, she come to an understanding of what it is to be human, of the impact of memory on all our lives. For her experiences are transmuted by talent into something at once unique and universal, a genuine voice for those who have no voice.

Anyone who doubts the worth of poetry in the modern world should explore Ms Duffy's work without hesitation.
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