Saturday, 16 May 2009

Carol Ann Duffy, Myra Hindley and the Prize. Wednesday 13 May 2009.

This week we looked at Carol Ann Duffy’s World’s Wife. The Agreeable Doctor pointed out some other bits of knowledge that should have been bleeding obvious, even to me; titles matter and collections of poetry have a form. Duffy’s collection seems so proceed from her girlhood through to her feeling about her own daughter.

Duffy based a poem on Little Red Riding Hood and called it Little Red Cap – I’d thought, ‘that’s funny,’ and left it at that. I might have thought, ‘maybe that’s what Americans call the story.’ The girl character in the animation Hoodwinked! was called Red after all.

(I’ve just looked at Hoodwinked! on IMBd and found out about the Rashomon effect; boundless potential for me to waffle with that).

But of course Red Cap has been named for a purpose. One friend suggested it’s an updating; nobody wears riding hoods anymore but the hepcats do wear caps.

Little Red Cap acknowledges sexuality in adolescent girls (which just made me think of another thing the title might allude to). The line,
‘what little girl doesn’t dearly love a wolf?’
reminded me of a recent episode of Coronation Street. A grown-up character speaks about being seduced by a friend’s father at 14. She admits that she liked him; looked forward to seeing him when she came to the house. I was impressed with the courage of the scriptwriters for including such candid dialogue.

As mentioned I entered two creative writing competitions. I was a sickly-mix crippled by self-doubt and plagued by what I’d do if I didn’t win. Worse still - how I’d cope if someone from my class won.

I was awarded joint first in the Andrea Pendlebury poetry award and joint second in the Helen Clark prose award. Book tokens and wine (artfully arranged above); very nice. The last time I receive a wrtiting prize was in 1968.
(THIS is being said in a surly, mean-spirited, little inner voice, not for consumption by the polite, generous spirited reader. Still reading? Right. I didn’t really want to be a joint winner. I know that makes me a peevish person – despite my claims to the contrary. And I didn’t want to be awarded joint second; as my so-called friends pointed out, ‘If the prose award had joint firsts too, then joint second is like fourth. And maybe there were only four entries.’) Well.

I know, I know, even just thinking that in my nasty little inner voice is bad karma – even if you don’t believe in crap. And this time next year I’ll be wishing I could get a mention never mind a half-second; I know that.

Oh, and it was someone from my class who was awarded joint first for the poetry award. Well done, I actually am pleased for you, because you are a proper poet who can write proper poetry. I still don’t really get it; sometime I catch myself - wondering if it isn’t actually all a hoax…
My poem is the one about the dead baby, the first poem I wrote, and is called Long line of times, if I can figure out a way of making a link to it I will. (I've done it but not sure if it's a good way.) I still feel hesitant about this poem, because it seems exploitative and calculating, but it is sad, and it was sad

The friend who presented on a genre this week focused particularly on Duffy’s The Devil’s Wife, a poem about Myra Hindley. She was brave because it’s an uncomfortable poem – but one that I keep being drawn back to as well. Duffy never mentions her subject but the reader immediately senses who is being written about. It feels as if the screenplay for the recent television drama about Hindley was taken straight from the poem.

A couple of photos of the bad squirrel who would eat all the bird nuts as a snack, and wreck the feeder, if I didn’t hang them on the pricky monkey puzzle tree. Here he is being shifty, first looking one way then the other way before he tries to scamper up the tree wearing some quilted mittens (just kidding about the mitts).

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