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• Carol Ann Duffy (born December 23, 1955) isa British poet, playwright and freelance writerborn in Glasgow, Scotland.• She was born in Glasgow in 1955 to a Scottishfather and an Irish mother. Raised Catholic, shegrew up in Staffordshire an ardent reader andelder sister to four brothers. Her mother wouldinvent fairy tales for her - a form whosearchetypes she has always found seductive. Shehas been particularly interested in exploringfeminine archetypes, which she subverts withdexterity in The Worlds Wife (Anvil PressPoetry 1999). Duffy wanted from a very earlyage to be a writer and was encouraged to writepoetry by an inspirational teacher at a Conventschool when she was ten years old.
Duffy dispensed with religion aged fifteen, when her conventschool became an old peoples home. However, she says,"Poetry and prayer are very similar...I write quite a lot ofsonnets and I think of them almost as prayers: short andmemorable, something you can recite. "At age sixteen, sheembarked on a relationship with the thirty-nine year old poetAdrian Henri, and the poem "Little Red Cap" in hercollection "The Worlds Wife" is commonly thought to beabout their relationship. She chose to study Philosophy atLiverpool University to be near him. Duffy says of Henri,"He gave me confidence, he was great. It was all poetry andsex, very heady, and he was never faithful. He thought poetshad a duty to be unfaithful. I’ve never got the hang of that!"She first worked as a game-show and joke writer for GranadaTelevision. From 1982 to 1984, she held a C. Day-LewisFellowship, working in east London schools, beforebecoming a full-time writer and dramatist in 1985.
Carol Ann Duffy was a poetry critic for "The Guardian"(1988-1989), and is the former editor of the poetrymagazine "Ambit". She is currently Professor ofContemporary Poetry and Creative Director of the WritingSchool at Manchester Metropolitan University and is onthe judging panel for the Manchester Poetry Prize.Characterized by social critique channeled throughdramatic monologue, Carol Ann Duffys poems providevoices for an extraordinary number of contemporarycharacters, including a fairground psychopath, a literarybiographer, a newborn baby, disinherited AmericanIndians, and even a ventriloquists dummy. Many of thepoems reflect on time, change, and loss. In dramatizingscenes of childhood, adolescence, and adult life, whetherpersonal or public, contemporary or historical, shediscovers moments of consolation through love, memory,and language. She explores not only everyday experience,but also the rich fantasy life of herself and others.
Of her own writing, Carol Ann Duffy hassaid, "Im not interested, as a poet, in words likeplash - Seamus Heaney words, interestingwords. I like to use simple words but in acomplicated way. "Singer-composer ElianaTomkins, whom Duffy collaborated with on aseries of live jazz recitals, says "With a lot ofartists, the mystique is to baffle their readership.She never does that. Her aim is tocommunicate." In her first collection "StandingFemale Nude" (1985) she often uses the voicesof outsiders while "Selling Manhattan" (1987)contains more personal verse. Her latercollections are "The Other Country"(1990), "Mean Time" (1993) and "The WorldsWife" (1999).
"The Worlds Wife" saw her retelling famous storiesand fables - Midas, King Kong, Elvis, AnneHathaway, Salome in a collection of poems aboutwomen, real or imagined, usually excluded fromhistory.Her next collection "Feminine Gospels" (2002)continues this vein, showing an increased interest inlong narrative poems, accessible in style and oftensurreal in their imagery. Her most recentpublication, "Rapture" (2005), is a series of intimatepoems charting the course of a love affair, for whichshe won the £10,000 T.S Eliot poetry prize. In 2007 shepublished a poetry collection for children entitled "TheHat".Many British students read her work while studying for English Literature at GCSE and A-level, as she became part of the syllabus in England and Wales in 1994.
According to the journalist Katharine Viner,"Her poems are accessible and entertaining, yether form is classical, her technique razor-sharp.She is read by people who dont really readpoetry, yet she maintains the respect of herpeers. Reviewers praise her touching, sensitive,witty evocations of love, loss, dislocation,nostalgia; fans talk of greeting her at readingswith claps and cheers that would not sound outof place at a pop concert".Carol Ann Duffy is also an acclaimedplaywright, and has had playsperformed at the Liverpool Playhouseand the Almeida Theatre in London.Her plays include" Take My Husband"(1982), "Cavern of Dreams" (1984),"Little Women, Big Boys" (1986)"Loss" (1986), a radio play and"Casanova" (2007). She has alsoadapted "Rapture" as a radio play.[Radio play "Rapture", performed byFiona Shaw, with Eliana Tomkins, onBBC Radio Four on 24 July 2007.] Herchildrens collections include "MeetingMidnight" (1999) and "The Oldest Girlin the World" (2000).
Carol Ann Duffy was almostappointed the British PoetLaureate in 1999 (after the deathof previous Laureate TedHughes), but lost out on theposition to Andrew Motion.According to the "SundayTimes“
Downing Street sources stated unofficiallythat Prime Minister Tony Blair was worriedabout having a homosexual poet laureatebecause of how it might play in middleEngland. Duffy later claimed that she wouldnot have accepted the laureateship anyway,saying in an interview with the "Guardian"newspaper that I will not write a poem forEdward and Sophie. No self-respecting poetshould have to. She says she regardsAndrew Motion as a friend and that the ideaof a contest between her and him for the postwas entirely invented by the newspapers. "Igenuinely dont think she even wanted to bepoet laureate," said Peter Jay, Duffys formerpublisher. "The post can be a poisonedchalice. It is not a role I would wish onanyone - particularly not someone asforthright and uncompromising as CarolAnn."
In August 2008, Duffys poemEducation for Leisure wasremoved from the AQAexamination boards GCSEpoetry anthology. Thisfollowed a complaint from anexternal examiner relating toreferences to knife crime in thepoem. According to newsreports, schools were urged todestroy copies of the uneditedanthology,although a statement from AQA denied this. Duffy countered the removal with a poemhighlighting violence in other fiction such as Shakespeares plays.
Awards*Eric Gregory Award 1984*Scottish Arts Council Book Award (for "Standing FemaleNude" and "The Other Country", and again for "Mean Time")*Somerset Maugham Award 1988 (for "Selling Manhattan")*Dylan Thomas Award 1989*Cholmondeley Award 1992*Whitbread Awards 1993 (for "Mean Time")*Forward Prize (for "Mean Time")*T S Eliot Prize 2005 (for "Rapture")*Forward Prize (for "Rapture")*Greenwich Poetry Competition ("for Words of Absolution")*Nesta Award 2001*Lannan Award 1995*National Poetry Competition 1st prize, 1983 (for "WhoeverShe Was")*Signal Childrens Poetry Prize 1999
"When you have a child, yourprevious life seems likesomeone elses. Its like livingin a house and suddenlyfinding a room you didntknow was there, full oftreasure and light.""My prose is turgid, itjust hasnt got anyenergy.""In the 1970s, when Istarted on the circuit, Iwas called a poetess.Older male poets, theLarkin generation, wereboth incrediblypatronizing and incrediblyrandy. If they weren’tpatting you on the head,they were patting you onthe bum.""I’m not a lesbian poet, whatever that is. If Iam a lesbian icon and a role model, that’sgreat, but if it is a word that is used to reduceme, then you have to ask why someone wouldwant to reduce me? I never think about it. Idon’t care about it. I define myself as a poetand as a mother – that’s all.""Like the sand and theoyster, its a creativeirritant. In each poem,Im trying to reveal atruth, so it cant have afictional beginning.""Childhood forchildren yet to beborn will bedarkened in wayswe cant imagine."