Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy leads a poetic response to the collapse of the Earth’s insect population. She has commissioned a group of leading poets to write and perform in response to the ecological crisis. The new poems will be published in The Guardian on Saturday 27 April 2019, and this event will be a special reading of the poems at Stratford Circus Arts Centre. This event will be Carol Ann Duffy’s final contribution as Poet Laureate, before she steps down in May at the end of her ten-year term.
Her term as Poet Laureate has been widely praised. Lady Antonia Fraser has called her a “great Poet Laureate” who “comments on contemporary events directly in a way we do not believe a Poet Laureate has done before.”
Her major 2011 collection The Bees, winner of Costa Poetry Award, celebrates the bee and, as one critic wrote, shows how “the bee symbolizes what we have left of grace in the world, and what is most precious and necessary for us to protect.”
Carol Ann Duffy became the first female Poet Laureate in 2009, and is also queen of the dramatic monologue. Her poetry gives voice to society’s alienated and ignored in an unstuffy but compelling manner, wrestling with ideas about language and identity. As she says, “I like to use simple words but in a complicated way.”
Born in Glasgow, Carol Ann Duffy was brought up in Staffordshire and studied philosophy at the University of Liverpool, where she was active in the city’s underground poetry scene in the 1970s. Her first full-length collection Standing Female Nude in 1985 was something of a landmark, forging an anti-establishment voice with a colloquial lyricism. Duffy reached a wider audience with The World’s Wife (1999), a series of witty dramatic monologues spoken by women from fairy tales and myths, and the women usually air-brushed from history, such as Mrs Midas and Mrs Darwin. Her output has also included a formidable amount of writing for children.
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Michael Rosen’s poem, These Are The Hands, features in a book of poems from the heart of the NHS, which has just been published.