It is wonderful to have a Poet Laureate who gives serious attention to writing for the young; Ted Hughes had a similar commitment. New and Collected Poems for Children by Carol Ann Duffy, writing in her prime, is rich, varied, funny, dark and deadly serious. It has dual-audience appeal; adults as well as children will find plenty to nourish, challenge and amuse. Here we have all the poetry from her first four collections for the young mixed up in fresh formations, plus some new work to savour. There is wit a-plenty, playfulness, poems to make you laugh out loud and poems about poetry itself, including the exuberant tour-de-force, ‘The Hat’. Facing up to the toughness of life is one of Duffy’s themes and so the imagery in ‘The Words of Poems’ is hard as well as magical: ‘nails / which tack the wind to a page’, ‘hand-mirrors’ which hold ‘wept tears on your face’ or ‘spells, dropping / like pennies into a wishing-well’. Duffy also has favourite motifs: the moon is rarely absent, music has a high profile, so Elvis and Bach keep company with fairy tale characters, grandmothers, animals and schoolgirls. Tenderness for a loved child (every book is dedicated to her own daughter) permeates the volume, particularly in poems such as ‘Star and Moon’ and ‘A Child’s Sleep’. ‘Her sleep was a small wood, / perfumed with flowers; / dark, peaceful, sacred, / acred in hours.’ The joy children bring and other everyday splendours of the natural world are often shown to be fragile and short-lived and the inevitablility of death is never ducked. ‘First Summer’, ‘Time Transfixed’ and ‘A Child’s Song’ all celebrate childhood and acknowledge its predictable ending: ‘World, world, outside my room, / you will close your eye / till everything’s dark and black / as the day I’ll die.’ Duffy visits Venice regularly and it’s good to see new poems about that extraordinary city: ‘Here today / Gondolier tomorrow’ as Duffy puts it half-jokingly. Evocative black and white line drawings by Alice Stevenson complement Duffy’s dazzling opus. Everyone who cares about children’s poetry must own this book.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Angie Hill http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Angie Hill2010-01-01 00:00:272022-03-13 15:05:23New and Collected Poems for Children
Illustrator: Alice Stevenson