In that time, she reckons, she must have read to several hundred thousand schoolchildren.Duffy has always had a great empathy for children, writing several collections of children’s verse. Duffy is now the most popular poet – after Shakespeare – among teenagers applying to read English at university.
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While she’s friendly enough, there is a wary, even rather fierce quality to Carol Ann Duffy.
You can’t imagine her being easily swayed by sentiment or fancy.
But I think – and hope – she’s just thinking about each question carefully.
It’s been a year since Duffy was appointed Poet Laureate, the first woman to do the job.If you stand in a certain spot, your words come booming back at you after a fractional delay.Resonance, that quality to which all poets aspire, is unavoidable here.‘Liverpool, Leeds, Halifax, Hull, Portsmouth …’ A rock band with a particularly punitive manager would have a job matching her schedule.Not that there’s anything new about this; Duffy has been doing it for more than 10 years.She also tends to leave long pauses before responding to a question.This can be disconcerting and I find myself imagining her privately rolling her eyes in exasperation.But I also think there’s a place for accessibility. But when she was at school, she won a highly commended prize in a poetry competition that Betjeman judged.‘I’ve got this certificate somewhere with his signature on it – or rather I used to. I’d love to have it now.’ In physical terms, Duffy could hardly be more accessible.Lloyd George, says Duffy, actually died in the room we are sitting in.He also had a domed roof built onto one end of it so that he could practise his public speaking.