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She also tends to leave long pauses before responding to a question.This can be disconcerting and I find myself imagining her privately rolling her eyes in exasperation.
‘I see being Poet Laureate as a kind of honour on behalf of all poets.
It’s certainly not because I’m the Best Poet, because there are better poets out there.’ Is she sure about that? ‘Pretty sure.’ Yet while she’s determined to bring poetry to as many people as possible, Duffy doesn’t share the prevailing mania for accessibility. ‘Probably the poetry I find most interesting is difficult. Betjeman, too, of course.’ You wouldn’t necessarily mark Duffy down as a Betjeman fan – it’s easier to imagine her incinerating his collected works than reciting them.
In that time, she reckons, she must have read to several hundred thousand schoolchildren.
Duffy has always had a great empathy for children, writing several collections of children’s verse. Duffy is now the most popular poet – after Shakespeare – among teenagers applying to read English at university.
While she’s friendly enough, there is a wary, even rather fierce quality to Carol Ann Duffy.
You can’t imagine her being easily swayed by sentiment or fancy.She’s written poems about the death of the First World War veteran Harry Patch, about MPs’ expenses and, most recently, about David Beckham.Her poem about Beckham’s injured foot did something that might hitherto have been considered impossible – it yoked together Beckham and Achilles without seeming pretentious.But I also think there’s a place for accessibility. But when she was at school, she won a highly commended prize in a poetry competition that Betjeman judged.‘I’ve got this certificate somewhere with his signature on it – or rather I used to. I’d love to have it now.’ In physical terms, Duffy could hardly be more accessible.Higher English / GCSE critical essay on Carol Ann Duffy's 'Stealing' poem.Essay task: Choose a poem in which there is an element of ambiguity.‘A lot of people in the audience still weren’t back in their houses.I wrote a little poem about it, but I would have done that anyway. It was as simple as that.’ One of the things she has tried to do as laureate is encourage interest in other contemporary poets, of whom there are a great many good ones, she insists.Anyone who thinks that the life of a poet consists of long periods of solitary oscillation broken only by flagons of booze and occasional pieces of stale Ryvita should think again.She runs through her engagements after her stint in north Wales where she’s teaching a course with the Welsh laureate, Gillian Clarke.