Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Cry me a river of Carol Ann Duffy
Been reading the talk about this poem (and the anthology it was in) being removed from the reading list of GCSE curriculum. I am not so sure about the school system in the UK, so am not sure exactly what this is. But what I have found interesting is that people are outraged. Some people call it censorship. Some people say that it is just another example of the interesting not being included. For those of you that don’t know, you can read the poem here.
So, now you are back. I find the only things violent in this poem are the words that depict a generic violence. Squashing a bug. A breadknife against the arm. Is this really violent? Is this dangerous? And that is the thing, this poem is tame. It is a tame, safe, right in the middle poem. It does not explore (or explode). It lives on the surface. If a knife cuts, it does not look like a cookie cutter. If a person is alone, frightened, violent, this is an awfully composed (calm) poem. Who wrote it? Did God write it? Did this person(the "I" in the poem) have the opportunity to step out of the skin and take ten breaths and then just play it our nice and slow?
At every step there are gatekeepers. Editors decide what they want to publish in their magazines and books and the same goes for the school system. People decide. Just because this poem moved further along in the editorial process before it got pushed out, does not mean that it should not have been pushed out much much earlier. Why is it OK to say that “this poem will not be included because of the form” But it is not OK to say “this poem will not be included because of the content?” I’d say that this poem fits the mold of the safe for school poem to a T… well, except for the knife. If we really want to talk about censorship of quality work, I think we need to look somewhere else. This poet has an agent and publishes with the big boys, so it is hard for me to feel sorry when a poem of hers is not included (and man, what great marketing publicity!).