I’m a bit off-piste with this week’s BotW choice – because it’s poems. It’s not the first poetry to be BotW- because Sarah Crossan’s One was free verse – but Carol Ann Duffy’s The World’s Wife is the first poetry collection to get the nod from me.
The World’s Wife is a collections of poems about the women behind famous men, or in some cases changes famous men into famous women. It’s on the AS level syllabus these days – I think my sister studied it, although I got stuck with Wordsworth back in my day – so I’m not going to pretend to any profound knowledge or insight. In fact I feel like I need to read them again already, with whatever the modern equivalent of York Notes is to help me get the most out of them. But I enjoyed reading them – and I’ve been off down the internet rabbit hole afterwards to find out who some of the men I didn’t know were.
I have studied Carol Ann Duffy though – at GCSE. In the big orange English Anthology, as well as Poems from Other Cultures and Traditions, there was a selection of poems from 3 poets – Simon Armitage, Ted Hughes and Duffy – and you had to study one of them. Carol Ann Duffy was the one we had to do. Towards the end of our two years, a local theatre held a GCSE poetry day – with a selection of the featured poets on stage reading from their works and answering questions. And Ms Duffy was one of them – she read a few poems (I can’t remember which) and was generally very tolerant of 1400 teenagers’ questions she’d probably heard a hundred times before*. My friend’s question wasn’t answered and at the interval, she wanted to see if she could get an answer, so dragging me with her, we scoured the theatre for the green room, and found it and waited for Ms Duffy. My friend was much braver than me and she did all the talking, but Ms Duffy was friendly and gracious towards the two of us – and we even ended up with an address to write to her if we had any more questions. I kept the scrap of paper it was written on for years – although I’ve lost it now – and have never forgotten my brush with the now Poet Laureate.
*Not all of the others were!