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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Station Zero
Philip Reeve
Progress: 220/282 pages
The Books of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition
Ursula K. Le Guin, Charles Vess
Progress: 749/997 pages
The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry
Robert Chandler
The Uncertain Land and Other Poems
Patrick O'Brian
Progress: 8/160 pages
The Heptameron (Penguin Classics)
Marguerite de Navarre
Progress: 152/544 pages
The Poems and Plays of John Masefield
John Masefield
Progress: 78/534 pages
Poems Selected
Emily Dickinson, Ted Hughes
Progress: 4/50 pages
Selected Poems
U A Fanthorpe
Progress: 18/160 pages
The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse
Mick Imlah, Robert Crawford
Hainish Novels & Stories, Vol. 2
Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 133/789 pages

The World's Wife, Carol Ann Duffy

The World's Wife - Carol Ann Duffy

Over-all this collection was a slight disappointment. It opens excellently with a poem dense with imagery, a radical re-imagining of the Red Riding-hood story, a complex and thought-provoking piece. Then nothing else in the book matches it, which is unfortunate, since the concept is so good.


It's not just about telling the story of the wives of famous men; sometimes it's transposing the man for a woman in the same circumstances; in the Red Riding-hood case, there's no real swap from male to female viewpoint at all. This is all welcome variety. There's variety in tone, too. Anger, humour, a range of emotion, which is also good.


What, for too much of the time, isn't good, is the poetry. Far too often it feels like a worthwhile prose very short story has merely been chopped up into stanzas; that, in my view, doesn't constitute a poem. It's not always like that, but it shouldn't ever be like that, as far as I'm concerned. Then there are the poems where-in the narrator is merely complaining - who wants to read that? Far better when the narrator is doing something, even if it's despicable e.g. Queen Herod...


There's enough reasonable quality material here for me not write-off our current Poet Laureate but I wish it had been poetically more ambitious like that very first title.