Lesbian Scot Conquers Ars Britannica

carol-ann-duffy-portrait

While many a gay poet has held the high post of UK poet laureate, a woman now has that chance too. And a Scot, to boot! Ah, yes. The pen IS mightier than the sword (or the claymore, as the case may be).

Congratulations to poet Carol Ann Duffy who was recently named as the national poet laureate of Britain — after 350 years she is the first woman to hold a post that has been filled by William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Ted Hughes.

Duffy, a Glaswegian, is well-respected as a poetry advocate and teacher in the U.K. school system and has published more than 30 books. “Her work often displays a sly, feminist take on history and contains a strong vein of social commentary,” according the AP story.

“A truly brilliant modern poet who has stretched our imaginations by putting the whole range of human experiences into lines that capture the emotions perfectly,” said Prime Minister Gordon Brown about Duffy.

Here’s a poem from her Selected Poems:

Shooting stars
By Carol Ann Duffy

After I no longer speak they break our fingers
to salvage my wedding ring. Rebecca Rachel Ruth
Aaron Emmanuel David, stars on all our brows
Beneath the gaze of men with guns. Mourn for our daughters,

upright as statues, brave. You would not look at me.
You waited for the bullet. Fell. I say, Remember.
Remember those appalling days which make the world
forever bad. One saw I was alive. Loosened

his belt. My bowels opened in a ragged gape of fear.
Between the gap of corpses I could see a child.
The soldiers laughed. Only a matter of days separate
this from acts of torture now. They shot her in the eye.

How would you prepare to die, on a perfect April evening
with young men gossiping and smoking by the graves?
My bare feet felt the earth and urine trickled
down my legs. I heard the click. Not yet. A trick.

After immense suffering someone takes tea on the lawn.
After the terrible moans a boy washes his uniform.
After the history lesson children run to their toys the world
turns in its sleep the spades shovel soil Sara Ezra…

Sister, if seas part us, do you not consider me?
Tell them I sang the ancient psalms at dusk
inside the wire and strong men wept. Turn thee
unto me with mercy, for I am desolate and lost.

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