Carol Ann Duffy: Poems Background

Carol Ann Duffy: Poems Background

Carol Ann Duffy is a Scottish poet and a professor of contemporary poetry at Manchester Metropolitan and has recently completed a stint as Poet Laureate, beginning in 2009. She was the first openly LGBTQ poet (Duffy is bisexual) to hold this position.

Duffy has written many poems compiled into several anthologies throughout her career: the most notable are perhaps Feminine Gospels and The World's Wife. Within these anthologies and many others, Duffy's work is often highly politicized and notoriously opinionated, often addressing difficult or controversial themes. In particular, feminism, sexuality, and notions of gender are common in Duffy's work but she has also covered war and history, writing an anthology called 1914: Poetry Remembers to commemorate the First World War among other works.

Sexuality and gender are especially prevalent within her work. In Warming Her Pearls, she tells the story of a ladies maid in love with her mistress. Her book The World's Wife is particularly subversive, the collection retelling the stories of famous men from the eyes of their wives and lovers giving voice to traditionally voiceless women such as Shakespeare's wife in Anne Hathaway and new perspectives to old stories such as the resurrection of Lazarus in Mrs Lazarus.

Techniques often utilized by Duffy include extended metaphors with complex, often allegorical, deeper meanings. Feminine Gospel's The Map Woman is a prime example of this as Duffy compares a woman's skin to a great map with intrinsic links to themes of history, memory, and identity. Asydetic listing is also employed by Duffy frequently (listing separated with punctuation rather than conjunctions) and stanzas are often composed of a singular extended sentence.

Duffy's simplistic language and clear use of poetical techniques, such as metaphor in Valentine from where she compares love to an onion, has made her a popular choice on the school curriculum. Duffy has acted as a political poet, particularly since her appointment as poet laureate, her first poem as laureate was a sonnet written in response to the MP expense scandal. She has also worked within the tradition of war poets, for instance, her poem "Last Post" commissioned by the BBC to honor the deaths of two of the last three surviving WWI veterans made explicit references to Wilfred Owen's Dulce et Decorum Est.

Update this section!

You can help us out by revising, improving and updating this section.

Update this section

After you claim a section you’ll have 24 hours to send in a draft. An editor will review the submission and either publish your submission or provide feedback.

Cite this page