Carol Ann Duffy

Coming back into English, it seems like our class spent a long time with Carol Ann Duffy. I mean, we started the unit before the Chinese New Year, and after we started again, the class had to do an IO and then spend two more months analyzing her poems. Needless to say, I’ve learned a lot about her.


I find it amazing that she started writing poems at 11, and the poem that I saw was actually good. Duffy had a very strong passion for poetry at a young age, and that passion has developed into a very distinct style. When analyzing Duffy’s poems are always so many layers to what she’s saying, and a lot of effort is put into crafting every single word to fit into the larger picture of the poem. By the time you’re done annotating one of her poems (if that’s even possible), your whole paper’s going to be full of notes. My personal favorites of her poems are “Penelope” and “Education for Leisure”.


“Penelope” is from Duffy’s The World’s Wife collection, and what I like about it, is that it’s spoken from the perspective of, well, you guessed it, Penelope, but more specifically, Odysseus’ wife, Penelope, from the epic, Odyssey. Basically, Odysseus leaves for war but leaves his wife, Penelope, behind. In order to stay faithful to Odysseus however, Penelope wards off her suitors in many ways, however, in the poem, she does this by telling them that she will only choose once she finishes embroidering a burial shroud, and at the end of the day, she unpicks her progress so that she never finishes. Just the concept of the poem appealed to me as I’m a sucker for any kind of Greek mythology. The second and third stanzas really Duffy captured my attention as Penelope reminisces about her younger years through her embroidery and reflects on her love for Odysseus.


“Education for Leisure”, on the other hand, was actually taken out of the GCSE because it was supposedly advocating for murder? Well, his violence starts from squashing a fly, quickly escalates after every stanza, until he decides to knife someone. Honestly, this poem kind of reminds me of the film Joker, but that’s kind of getting off-topic. I just found it really interesting how Duffy managed to affect the reader’s perception of the speaker just through the word choice.

I think now, I’m ready to move on to the next unit. I’m actually surprised by how much I didn’t not enjoy analyzing these poems. I mean my only previous experience of analyzing poetry was Shakespeare, and my brain was too small to comprehend all the language that he was using. After reading a lot of Carol Ann Duffy’s work, I realize that analyzing poetry is actually all that bad 🙂

(Can you spot the little dude in the photo? Hmm… maybe it’s not that hard)

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