An evening with...


Carol Ann Dufffy

I have long believed that poetry should be read aloud – either to you by someone else, or by you to yourself. It was therefore with great excitement that I recently went to hear the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy reading her own work.
I wasn’t sure what to expect. We were at the Royal Festival Hall. How much ‘production’ would be involved? How much of a ‘show’ would it be?
The evening turned out to be a big disappointment. The poetry was as you would expect of the highest quality, but the delivery was not. Some people can read the instructions from a pack of loo cleaner and make them interesting. Unfortunately Ms Duffy is not in that league. All she did was to reduce her own poetry to a monotonous drone. At times, a drone that was hard to hear.
She was accompanied by John Sampson who is a professional musician and who played ‘tunes’ on a series of wooden flutes in between groups of poems.
Nothing wrong with this, but it wasn’t needed. How much better if two or three actors had simply read the poems having been introduced by the poet. The stories behind the poems were interesting and instructive. The idea of listening to poetry in the company of the poet – maybe with the chance to ask a question or two – could be attractive. But the evening at the RFH was not.