Gene Kemp on Carol Ann Duffy’s poem collection, Meeting Midnight, which makes you look at things as if you hadn’t seen them before.
I fell in love with the poem ‘Girl and Tree’ in the same way the girl fell in love with a tree! Listen …
‘Tree I love you best in the world.’
and the tree whispers back,
‘Girl, girl, I love you best, believe me please.’
and the poem ends with people searching the woods,
‘where a smiling girl in a cherry-red dress
slept in the arms of a tree, like fruit.’
The words give me shivers down my spine, goosepimples down my arms.
There are other brilliant poems, the first, ‘Meeting Midnight’, whose
‘eyes were sparkling pavements after frost,
but next day,
‘I bumped into Half-Past Four.
He was a bore.’
‘Know All’, ‘Snowball’, are funny. And ‘Chocs’, with its
‘tough luck, Ann Pope –
oh, and half an Orange Supreme.’
‘Toy Dog’, ‘First Summer’, ‘Lightning Star’ are comforting poems; several are sinister, scary, ‘Little Ghost’, ‘Poker’, ‘Quicksand’, ‘A Worry’, ‘Whirlpool’.
All of them make you think and look at things as if you hadn’t seen them before. (P.S. I didn’t care for the cover. Not child-friendly and the colours and feeling are all wrong!)
Carol Ann Duffy’s Meeting Midnight is published by Faber and Faber, 0 571 20120 2, £4.99 (shortlisted for the Whitbread Award). Gene Kemp’s latest book is The Hairy Hands published by Puffin, 0 14 130278 X, £4.99.