Book Review – The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy
Poetry can be a risk, hence my suggestion that if you are dipping your toes in for the first time, libraries (if the Neo-conservatives in you country haven’t closed them) are an excellent place to begin.
Poet Laureates of the American or English variety are also good places to start. The Bees is Carol Ann Duffy’s first book as England’s Poet Laureate and demonstrates her amazing and varied facility with form and sound.
The theme of Bees ties this collection together, but you don’t have to be a budding apiarist to get full enjoyment. It’s not all about Bees. Most poetry collections I have read before present a poet with a very distinct style or tone. Reading Duffy’s The Bees I am truly in awe of her facility with sound, particularly internal rhyme and how she manipulates the speed of the poem.
If you think that rhyme or playfulness with sound is dead in contemporary poetry than I think you should check Duffy out. That’s not to say its all sunshine and roses. Duffy brings uses her considerable skill to tackle the serious themes in poetry. Take The Last Post as an example:
Note the skilful internal rhyme?
I think poetry is at its best when its accessible (generally plain speaking) and when it starts to use the tools that are particular to it (rhyme) for greatest advantage. I enjoyed this collection enough to purchase it and I am confident enough that I’d pick up anything of Duffy’s and find it entertaining.