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Posted on April 7th 2015
Carol Ann Duffy Lecture Day
Our Year 12 English Literature class set off on an academic expedition to central London on 12th March 2015. Our mission was to conquer the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy. We had dabbled in some of the poet laureate’s poetry in class beforehand, just enough to wet our appetites. However, the trip was not only an academic conquest but a lesson in the evolution of the female voice.
Going to the Carol Ann Duffy lectures was an experience most beneficial in terms of supporting our understanding of the material covered for the AS English Literature exam. Personally, as a young, up and coming poet, the experience gave me the opportunity to listen to the various themes, ideas, approaches and techniques a poet can use to elicit a range of emotions from their readers.
I learned that in every line there lies meaning; I learned how to use ‘simple words but in a complicated way’ and mostly I learned that women have a voice and should be seen as a force to be reckoned with in Literature.
It was extremely insightful to hear the array of different critical opinions people have on Duffy’s work and how they see her poetry in relation to her personal life. Though I had naïve expectations to actually meet Carol Ann Duffy, I was not let down by the speakers - they wielded continuous passion and clear understanding of the divergent meanings that Duffy’s poetry might hold. The lecturers (from Oxford and Wolverhampton Universities) explored in depth some of the poems we are currently studying. As an extreme lover of poetry and literature it was mesmerising to see how Duffy skillfully transforms historical stories into the perspectives of women, changing HIStory to HERstory.
The day was split into 3 sessions:
• Carol Ann Duffy: The Limits of Language.
• I’m not a lesbian poet, whatever that is - 2005 Interview. Gender & Sexual Politics in Duffy’s Poetry.
• Duffy ‘reduces poetry to a stand-up routine.
For me, the lectures were also an advantage in seeing how University lectures will be and how to gain that skill of note taking, whilst still listening to what the lecturer is saying next – it was not as easy as one would imagine! Needless to say, the trip presented our class with a valuable opportunity to develop our own academic and personal life skills.
Not only did the trip help expand my own ideas when writing poetry, but it taught me how to look at poetry with fresh eyes.
By Renae Howell - Year 12