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Poet laureate and superstar of GCSE poetry anthologies, Carol Ann Duffy’s latest endeavour is a sonnet to mark the end of the World Shakespeare Festival, which opened in April with another sonnet, commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s writer-in-residence, Mark Ravenhill. Ergo, a full circle of poetry. Cute symbolism, right?
Her poem is an homage to Shakespeare (duh) and considering how cosy the man himself was with the sonnet form, it is only fitting that Duffy uses it to describe the modern relationship with Shakespeare – a poet who for many fills the ‘God-shaped hole’ in our secular, Primark-saturated collective consciousness.
Whether Shakespeare remains a better substitute for God than, say, Stevie Wonder or Esther Rantzen remains uncertain, but Duffy’s proven she’s a trustworthy poet to offer new and unique thoughts on such an intrinsic part of the UK’s literary history. The first openly gay poet to be appointed Laureate, her success may still be heralding a widening access to LGBT poets and poetry, while showcasing the continued relevance of cutting-edge contemporary poetry.
Accompanied by new artwork from the artist Stephen Raw, the poem made its public premiere on the RSC website. It’s a nicely muscly sonnet, toying with Shakespeare’s trademark iambic pentameter while remaining deftly modern. A limited edition print, signed by Duffy and Raw, is available from the RSC shop.
Read the poem here: www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/exhibitions/shakespeare-by-carol-ann-duffy.aspx