Carol Ann Duffy is well known to our generation as the woman who aided the national boredom that was GCSE poetry. For those of us lucky enough to not be overcome with contempt for the first female Poet Laureate, there is a sense of dry, humorous frankness that is represented in her latest collection; The Bees.
Breaking away from the poetry used for cultural enhancement for the mid-teens, Duffy brings to life a variety of different voices, emotions and events in this singularly themed collection. As seen in blatant form in Rapture and The Gospel Truth, Duffy uses dry-humoured relentlessness to her advantage when exploring old and new themes of anti-war, feminism and ecological messages.
Last Post is a personal favourite, visually representing the First World War and it’s reflection on recent conflict in the Middle East is inspiring and brings to life the true calling of the poet as well as the hopeless sense of power as a writer. There is an overall sombre feel to the book, something in which reflects a bleak economy, a dank government rule and a sense of oppression. The overall metaphoric use of bees, mirroring our own networking society is cleverly romanticised with a strong presence of nature that is reminiscent of William Blake’s Songs of Experience.
I am completely biased when I say that this collection is moving and influential to our time; understanding that Duffy is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I would recommend at least a flick through. The Bees provides us with another chapter of Duffy’s progression as a poetic commentator of the 21st Century.