Dame Carol Ann DuffyDBEFRSLHonFBAHonFRSE (born 23 December 1955) is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain's Poet Laureate in May 2009. She is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly LGBT person to hold the position.
Her collections include Standing Female Nude (1985), winner of a Scottish Arts Council Award; Selling Manhattan (1987), which won a Somerset Maugham Award; Mean Time (1993), which won the Whitbread Poetry Award; and Rapture (2005), winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize. Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence in an accessible language that has made them popular in schools.
Carol Ann Duffy was born to a Roman Catholic family in the Gorbals, a poor part of Glasgow. She was the first child of Frank Duffy, an electrical fitter, and Mary Black. The couple went on to have another four children, all boys. The family moved to Stafford, England, when Duffy was six years old. Her father worked for English Electric. He was a trade unionist, and stood unsuccessfully as a parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party in 1983 in addition to managing the Stafford Rangers football club.
Duffy was educated in Stafford at Saint Austin's RC Primary School (1962–1967), St. Joseph's Convent School (1967–1970), and Stafford Girls' High School (1970–1974), her literary talent encouraged by two English teachers, June Scriven at St Joseph's, and Jim Walker at Stafford Girls' High. She was a passionate reader from an early age, and always wanted to be a writer, producing poems from the age of 11. When one of her English teachers died, she wrote:
You sat on your desk,
swinging your legs,
reading a poem by Yeats
to the bored girls,
except my heart stumbled and blushed
as it fell in love with the words and I saw the tree
in the scratched old desk under my hands,
heard the bird in the oak outside scribble itself on the air.
Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.
Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.
Mean Time, Anvil, 1994
When Duffy was 15, June Scriven sent her poems to Outposts, a publisher of pamphlets, where it was read by the bookseller Bernard Stone, who published some of them. When she was 16, she met Adrian Henri, one of the Liverpool poets, and decided she wanted to be with him; she then lived with him until 1982. "He gave me confidence," she said, "he was great. It was all poetry, very heady, and he was never faithful. He thought poets had a duty to be unfaithful." She applied to the University of Liverpool to be near him, and began a philosophy degree there in 1974. She had two plays performed at the Liverpool Playhouse, wrote a pamphlet, Fifth Last Song, and received an honours degree in philosophy in 1977. She won the National Poetry Competition in 1983. She worked as poetry critic for The Guardian from 1988–1989, and was editor of the poetry magazine, Ambit. In 1996, she was appointed as a lecturer in poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and later became creative director of its Writing School.
Duffy was almost appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom in 1999 after the death of Ted Hughes, but lost out on the position to Andrew Motion. Duffy said she would not have accepted the position at that time anyway, because she was in a relationship with Scottish poet Jackie Kay, had a young daughter, and would not have welcomed the public attention. In the same year, she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
She was appointed as Poet Laureate on 1 May 2009, when Motion's 10-year term was over. Duffy was featured on the South Bank Show with Melvyn Bragg in December 2009 and on 7 December she presented the Turner Prize to artist Richard Wright.
Duffy received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 2009.
In 2015, Duffy was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the British Academy.
In her first poem as poet laureate, Duffy tackled the scandal over British MPs expenses in the format of a sonnet. Her second, "Last Post", was commissioned by the BBC to mark the deaths of Henry Allingham and Harry Patch, the last two British soldiers to fight in World War I. Her third, "The Twelve Days of Christmas 2009", addresses current events such as species extinction, the climate change conference in Copenhagen, the banking crisis, and the war in Afghanistan. In March 2010, she wrote "Achilles (for David Beckham)" about the Achilles tendon injury that left David Beckham out of the English football team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup; the poem was published in The Daily Mirror and treats modern celebrity culture as a kind of mythicisation. "Silver Lining", written in April 2010, acknowledges the grounding of flights caused by the ash of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull. On 30 August 2010 she premièred her poem "Vigil" for the Manchester Pride Candlelight Vigil in memory of LGBTQ people who have lost their lives to HIV/AIDS.
Duffy wrote a 46 line poem Rings for the 2011 wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton. The poem celebrates the rings found in nature and does not specifically mention the couple's names. It begins for both to say and continues "I might have raised your hand to the sky / to give you the ring surrounding the moon / or looked to twin the rings of your eyes / with mine / or added a ring to the rings of a tree / by forming a handheld circle with you, thee, / ...". She wrote the verse with Stephen Raw, a textual artist, and a signed print of the work was sent to the couple as a wedding gift. Duffy also wrote the poem The Throne, which she composed for the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation.
In a Stylist magazine, Duffy said of becoming poet laureate, "There's no requirement. I do get asked to do things and so far I've been happy to do them." She also spoke about being appointed to the role by Queen Elizabeth II, saying, "She's lovely! I met her before I became poet laureate but when I was appointed I had an 'audience' with her which meant we were alone, at the palace, for the first time. We chatted about poetry. Her mother was friends with Ted Hughes whose poetry I admire a lot. We spoke about his influence on me."
Duffy's work explores both everyday experience and the rich fantasy life of herself and others. In dramatising scenes from childhood, adolescence, and adult life, she discovers moments of consolation through love, memory, and language. Charlotte Mendelson writes in The Observer:
Part of Duffy's talent – besides her ear for ordinary eloquence, her gorgeous, powerful, throwaway lines, her subtlety – is her ventriloquism. Like the best of her novelist peers ... she slides in and out of her characters' lives on a stream of possessions, aspirations, idioms and turns of phrase. However, she is also a time-traveller and a shape-shifter, gliding from Troy to Hollywood, galaxies to intestines, sloughed-off skin to department stores while other poets make heavy weather of one kiss, one kick, one letter ... from verbal nuances to mind-expanding imaginative leaps, her words seem freshly plucked from the minds of non-poets – that is, she makes it look easy.
Of her own writing, Duffy has said, "I'm not interested, as a poet, in words like 'plash'—Seamus Heaney words, interesting words. I like to use simple words, but in a complicated way." She told The Observer: "Like the sand and the oyster, it's a creative irritant. In each poem, I'm trying to reveal a truth, so it can't have a fictional beginning."
Duffy rose to greater prominence in UK poetry circles after her poem "Whoever She Was" won the Poetry Society National Poetry Competition in 1983. In her first collection, Standing Female Nude (1985), she uses the voices of outsiders, for example in the poems 'Education for Leisure' and 'Dear Norman'. Her next collection Feminine Gospels (2002) continues this vein, showing an increased interest in long narrative poems, accessible in style and often surreal in their imagery. Her 2005 publication, Rapture (2005), is a series of intimate poems charting the course of a love affair, for which she won the £10,000 T.S. Eliot Prize. In 2007, she published The Hat, a collection of poems for children. Online copies of her poems are rare, but her poem dedicated to U A Fanthorpe, Premonitions, is available through The Guardian, and several others via The Daily Mirror.
Her poems are studied in British schools at GCSE, National 5, A-level, and Higher levels. In August 2008, her Education for Leisure, a poem about violence, was removed from the AQA examination board's GCSE poetry anthology, following a complaint about its references to knife crime and a goldfish being flushed down a toilet. The poem begins, "Today I am going to kill something. Anything./I have had enough of being ignored and today/I am going to play God." The protagonist kills a fly, then a goldfish. The budgie panics and the cat hides. It ends with him, or her, leaving the house with a knife. "The pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm."
According to The Guardian, schools were urged to destroy copies of the unedited anthology, though this was later denied by AQA. Duffy called the decision ridiculous. "It's an anti-violence poem," she said. "It is a plea for education rather than violence." She responded with Mrs Schofield's GCSE, a poem about violence in other fiction, and the point of it. "Explain how poetry/pursues the human like the smitten moon/above the weeping, laughing earth ..." The Mrs. Schofield of the title refers to Pat Schofield, an external examiner at Lutterworth College, Leicestershire, who complained about Education for Leisure, calling it "absolutely horrendous".
For the new National Qualifications Higher English Course in Scotland, Duffy's publishers, RCW Literacy Agency, refused permission for her poem, "Originally", to be published in the paper.
Anthologise Annual Competition for Schools
In 2011 Duffy spearheaded a new poetry competition for schools, named Anthologise. The competition is administered by the Poetry Book Society and was launched by HRH the Duchess of Cornwall in September 2011. School students aged 11–18 from around the UK were invited to create and submit their own anthologies of published poetry. The 2011 Anthologise judges were Duffy; Gillian Clarke (National Poet for Wales); John Agard; Grace Nichols and Cambridge Professor of Children's Poetry, Morag Styles. The first ever winners of Anthologise were the sixth form pupils of Monkton Combe School, Bath, with their anthology titled The Poetry of Earth is Never Dead, which was described by Duffy as 'assured and accomplished as any anthology currently on the bookshelves'.
Plays and songs
Duffy is also a playwright, and has had plays performed at the Liverpool Playhouse and the Almeida Theatre in London. Her plays include Take My Husband (1982), Cavern of Dreams (1984), Little Women, Big Boys (1986) Loss (1986), Casanova (2007). Her radio credits include an adaptation of Rapture. Her children's collections include Meeting Midnight (1999) and The Oldest Girl in the World (2000). She also collaborated with the Manchester composer, Sasha Johnson Manning, on The Manchester Carols, a series of Christmas songs that premiered in Manchester Cathedral in 2007.
She also participated in the Bush Theatre's 2011 project Sixty Six Books, for which she wrote a piece based upon a book of the King James Bible
A modernised adaptation of Everyman by Carol Ann Duffy, with Chiwetel Ejiofor in the title role, was performed at the National Theatre from April to July 2015.
At the age of 16, Duffy began a relationship with poet Adrian Henri, living with him until 1982. Duffy later met poet Jackie Kay, with whom she had a 15-year relationship. During her relationship with Kay, Duffy gave birth to a daughter, Ella, whose biological father is fellow poet Peter Benson.
Honours and awards
Duffy holds honorary doctorates from the University of Dundee, the University of Hull, the University of St Andrews, and the University of Warwick, as well as an Honorary Fellowship at Homerton College, Cambridge.
She was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1995, Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2002, and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to poetry.
Works – poetry collections, books for children and plays
- 1974: Fleshweathercock and Other Poems. Outposts ltd.
- 1977: (with Adrian Henri) Beauty and the Beast (poetry)
- 1982: Fifth Last Song. Headland (poetry)
- 1982: Take My Husband (play)
- 1984: Cavern of Dreams (play)
- 1985: Standing Female Nude. Anvil Press Poetry (poetry)
- 1986: Little Women, Big Boys (play)
- 1986: Loss (radio play)
- 1986: Thrown Voices. Turret Books, pamphlet (poetry)
- 1987: Selling Manhattan. Anvil Press Poetry (poetry)
- 1990: The Other Country. Anvil Press Poetry (poetry)
- 1992: I Wouldn't Thank You for a Valentine (ed.) Viking (poetry anthology)
- 1992: William and the Ex-Prime Minister. Anvil Press Poetry, pamphlet, (poetry).
- 1993: Mean Time Anvil Press Poetry (poetry)
- 1994: Anvil New Poets Volume 2. (Ed.) Penguin (poetry anthology)
- 1994: Selected Poems. Penguin (poems)
- 1995: Penguin Modern Poets 2 with Vicki Feaver and Eavan Boland. Penguin. (Poetry)
- 1996: Grimm Tales. Faber and Faber. (Play)
- 1996: Salmon – Carol Ann Duffy: Selected Poems. Salmon Poetry. (Poetry)
- 1996: Stopping for Death. Viking (poetry anthology)
- 1997: More Grimm Tales. Faber and Faber (children's play)
- 1998: The Pamphlet. Anvil Press Poetry (poetry)
- 1999: Meeting Midnight. Faber and Faber (children's poetry)
- 1999: The World's Wife Anvil Press Poetry (poetry)
- 1999: Time's Tidings: Greeting the 21st Century. (Ed.) Anvil Press Poetry (poetry anthology)
- 2000: The Oldest Girl in the World. Faber and Faber (children's poetry)
- 2001: Hand in Hand: An Anthology of Love Poems. (Ed.) Picador (poetry anthology)
- 2002: Feminine Gospels. Picador
- 2002: Queen Munch and Queen Nibble., Macmillan Children's Books.
- 2002: Underwater Farmyard. Macmillan Children's Books. (Children's book)
- 2003: The Good Child's Guide to Rock N Roll. Faber and Faber. (Children's poetry)
- 2003: Collected Grimm Tales (with Tim Supple). Faber and Faber. (Children's book)
- 2004: Doris the Giant. (Children's literature, picture book)
- 2004: New Selected Poems. Picador
- 2004: Out of Fashion: An Anthology of Poems. (Ed.) Faber and Faber (poetry anthology)
- 2004: Overheard on a Saltmarsh: Poets' Favourite Poems (Ed.) Macmillan
- 2005: Another Night Before Christmas with John Murray. (Children's poetry)
- 2005: Moon Zoo. Macmillan (children's literature, picture book)
- 2005: Rapture Picador (poetry)
- 2006: The Lost Happy Endings (illustrated by Jane Ray). Penguin. (Children's book)
- 2007: Answering Back. (Ed.) Picador. (Poetry anthology)
- 2007: The Hat. Faber and Faber. (Children's poetry)
- 2007: The Tear Thief. Barefoot Books. (Children's book)
- 2009: Mrs Scrooge: A Christmas Poem (illustrated by Beth Adams). Simon & Schuster
- 2009: New & Collected Poetry for Children. Faber and Faber. (Poetry)
- 2009: The Princess's Blankets (illustrated by Catherine Hyde). Templar. (Children's book)
- 2009: The Twelve Poems of Christmas. (Ed.) Candlestick Press. (Poetry)
- 2009: To The Moon: An Anthology of Lunar Poetry. (Editor) Picador. (Poetry)
- 2009: Love Poems. Picador. (Poetry, selected).
- 2011: The Bees. Picador. (Poetry, selected).
- 2011: The Christmas Truce. (illustrated by David Roberts) Picador.
- 2012: Wenceslas: A Christmas Poem. (illustrated by Stuart Kolakovic) Picador.
- 2014: Dorothy Wordsworth's Christmas Birthday. (illustrated by Tom Duxbury) Picador.
- ^"Carol Ann Duffy - Poetry - Scottish Poetry Library". www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
- ^ ab"Prof Carol Ann Duffy". Manchester Metropolitan University. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
- ^"Entertainment | Duffy reacts to new Laureate post". BBC News. 1 May 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
- ^ ab"Carol Ann Duffy | British poet". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
- ^"Carol Ann Duffy (b. 1955)". Scottish Poetry Library. Retrieved 26 March 2015.
- ^ abcdeForbes, Peter. "Winning Lines"Archived 13 February 2013 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, 31 August 2002.
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- ^William Crawley. "Will & Testament: Carol Ann Duffy's prayer". BBC. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
- ^Winterson, Jeanette. "Carol Ann Duffy"Archived 31 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine., Jeanettewinterson.com. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
- ^Flood, Alison. "Betting closed on next poet laureate amid speculation that Carol Ann Duffy has been chosen"Archived 30 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, 27 April 2009.
- ^Lyall, Sarah (2 May 2009). "After 341 Years, British Poet Laureate Is a Woman". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 May 2011.
- ^Press Release, South Bank ShowArchived 5 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine., 6 December 2009.
- ^Higgins, Charlotte. "Artist Richard Wright strikes gold as winner of this year's Turner prize"Archived 23 July 2013 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, 7 December 2009.
- ^"Honorary Graduates 2009"(PDF). 1.hw.ac.uk. Archived from the original(PDF) on 16 August 2009. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
- ^"British Academy Fellowship reaches 1,000 as 42 new UK Fellows are welcomed". 16 Jul 2015.
- ^Politics by Carol Ann Duffy,Archived 16 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. The Guardian, 13 June 2009
- ^"Carol Ann Duffy, Poem for the last of WWI"Archived 27 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine., Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, 30 July 2009.
- ^Duffy, Carol Ann. "The Twelve Days of Christmas 2009", Radio Times, 6 December 2009.
- ^"The bizzaro history of the poet laureate"Archived 5 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine.. Toronto Star, 7 July 2016. Bruce Demara.
- ^"Achilles (David Beckham)"Archived 7 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, 16 March 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- ^Duffy, Carol Ann. “Silver Lining | Carol Ann Duffy"Archived 27 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, 20 April 2010.
- ^Kinser, Jeremy (30 August 2010). "Thousands Attend Manchester HIV Vigil". Advocate.com. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
- ^Harrison, David (23 April 2011). "Royal wedding: Poet laureate writes verse for big day". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
- ^"Poems for a wedding". The Guardian. 23 April 2011. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
- ^Rayner, Gordon (4 June 2013). "Queen's coronation anniversary: Crown to leave Tower for first time since 1953 for Westminster Abbey service". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
- ^ ab"Interview: Carol Ann Duffy". Stylist. Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
- ^Mendelson, Charlotte. The gospel truthArchived 30 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine., The Observer, 13 October 2002.
- ^Anderson, Hephzibah. Christmas CarolArchived 3 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine., The Observer, 4 December 2005.
- ^"The Poetry Society". The Poetry Society. 1 July 2016. Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
- ^PremonitionsArchived 7 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine. The Guardian, 2 May 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- ^Duffy's poems for childrenArchived 16 November 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Daily Mirror, 4 May 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- ^A previously unpublished poem on the nature of her workArchived 5 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine., Daily Mirror, 2 May 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2010.
- ^Martin, Ben. "Carol Ann Duffy: Profile of the new Poet Laureate"Archived 7 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine., The Daily Telegraph, 1 May 2009.
- ^"Scottish Texts for New National 5 and Higher English Courses"(PDF). Sqa.org.uk. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
- ^ abCurtis, Polly. "Top exam board asks schools to destroy book containing knife poem"Archived 18 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, 4 September 2008.
- ^ abAddley, Esther. "Poet's rhyming riposte leaves Mrs Schofield 'gobsmacked'"Archived 19 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, 6 September 2008.
- ^Duffy, Carol Ann. Mrs Schofield's GCSEArchived 7 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine., The Guardian, 6 September 2009.
- ^"SQ14/H/02 : English Critical Reading"(PDF). Sqa.org.uk. Retrieved 17 July 2016.
- ^Radio play Rapture, performed by Fiona Shaw, with Eliana Tomkins, on BBC Radio Four on 24 July 2007.
- ^"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 July 2011. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
- ^ abc"Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 4 October 2011.
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Carol Ann Duffy is a noted female, Scottish poet who wrote the poem Human Interest. Achieving huge recognition for her work including receiving the status of poet laureate which is just about the biggest honour a poet can receive. Her work is occasionally controversial and often deals with contemporary issues told from the perspective of a person who might not always be particularly heroic, for instance writing from the perspective of a jealous wife, or a robber. In this case she writes from the perspective of somebody who killed their partner.
Human Interest Form and Tone
As you would probably expect, given the topic of this poem, it is a pretty bleak and dark piece of poetry. It follows the rhyming pattern of a Petrarchan sonnet ABBAABBACDCDCD. Which is an interesting choice given the nature of the poem, sonnets are normally associated with love and romance. It is separated into four stanzas these are four lines long, three lines long, four lines long and then three once more. This is unusual for a Petrarchan sonnet. This poem does not address the characters partner and is more like the character thinking out loud. Almost like a character might do in a play.
Human Interest Analysis
The first two lines of this poem, which can be read in full here, are really interesting. It’s almost as if the narrator is suggesting that the punishment is too severe for the crime that was committed. Perhaps he thinks it was justified? On the next two lines he describes briefly the event and how he felt about it. He doesn’t spend a lot of the poem dwelling on this description. Perhaps he is trying to “gloss over it”? In fact in terms of the description of the act itself the narrator uses just two sentences and only five words to describe the deed. The heat he describes is probably that agitated feeling that you get when you lose your temper. For anyone that’s ever had a terrible argument or heated discussion you will be familiar with this feeling of getting hot under the collar. In the last line he states that the feeling stayed until reason had died. This is significant in two ways. Firstly the use of the word died, throughout the poem Duffy uses words associated with death and gloom to help create a dismal tone but more importantly the narrator suggests he has (or had?) a sense of reason to begin with. This is the first hint in the poem that he believes he is a decent person.
In this second Stanza the narrator, once again develops his own character. He talks of being hard-working and puts the point across that he did that for his partner. He paints his significant other in quite a negative light. Saying she stank of deceit. This is quite a strong verb. It’s also interesting that he describes the other man as a prick. This is not an example of a strong swear word. Which I think intimates that the narrator clearly feels his partner was to blame for the indiscretions, whilst he clearly doesn’t have pleasant feelings for the man involved you get the sense that he feels that the person she cheated with could have been pretty much anybody and is almost insignificant. Prick is also a word you would associate with stabbing somebody and is a clever play on words. The use of the word guts is also clever and evokes an image of entrails could this be another double entendre?
Clearly he felt strongly about his former partner. He says he loved her. The use of the past tense is quite revealing here. It seems from the next line that it was the denial that “tore him(me) apart.” This is interesting, perhaps the real betrayal wasn’t that she had been with another guy, but that she hadn’t been honest about it. Perhaps it is easier to see a future with someone if at very least they can be honest with you but because of the denial he could no longer see that future and became destructive. The last two lines of the stanza reminds me of a friend of mine who has recently gone through a break up. Now they have separated she sees that the signs were there and bemoans her partner’s new relationship. That is how I interpret this, as he has progressed he has uncovered more of her secrets.
This first line very well be considered another turn of phrase. The use of the word choke. One would initially assume he meant “choke up” as in cry and as it happens the end of the enjambment line reveals that is what he means but I think it runs onto the next line deliberately to leave a moment of ambiguity. The final two sentences are really thought-provoking and in my opinion really strike at the heart of what the poem is about. A classic Volta in many ways (this is a term to describe the turn at the end of a sonnet.) the man reveals that his partner wasn’t that sort of a person. She wasn’t a “tart” and yet she did something uncharacteristic. He then, once more, pleads his own innocence by saying he wouldn’t hurt a fly. The suggestion here is that good people can do bad things. That both his and his partners actions were uncharacteristic.
Once again Duffy shows her mastery of her craft using a plethora of bleak and horrid adjectives to create a grim picture. This expert imagery is a calling card of her poetry and is evident in spades in Human Interest. She allows us to sympathise with the character, who killed his wife. The poem explores the notion of whether one action committed in the heat of the moment defines are person’s character. It is a very interesting debate when good people do bad things (and the opposite of this can happen too!) The use of rhyme is an interesting device in this poem as rhyme often gives poetry a nice flow and a slightly comic appeal and neither of those sit well within the context of this poem. Duffy is far too clever to not know this and so this device is probably employed deliberately. Perhaps to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the narrator themselves? If this is the case then the last two words of the poem “no joke” are an interesting choice. Read in isolation one would assume this is just the narrator trying to emphasise their point. But perhaps not. Is the narrator’s views reliable? It is hard to gauge. Once again Duffy leaves us with more questions than answers.