Review: Carol Ann Duffy & LiTTLe MaCHiNe, York Literature Festival in association with the TakeOver Festival
Venue: York Theatre Royal, Sunday, March 24
I’m overcome with fear when I hear the name Carol Ann Duffy. Terrifying flashbacks of rolled over skirts, overcooked turkey twizzlers and Stacey Stockhill spitting in my hair. It’s not just Carol Ann, it’s Gillian Clarke, Seamus Heaney, Philip Larkin, every single poet in that GCSE Anthology.
To deny their existence for the rest of my life would be time consuming. So, it’s probably time I buried the hatchet, embraced Carol Ann, and tried to forget my Mother’s attempts to get me a valium prescription the week before my final exams…
Carol Ann Duffy is not a man-hating feminist. She is a feminist, but who isn’t? She opens with a reading from her collection The World’s Wife which are poems written from the perspective of the wives of infamous mythical men, they raise more than a few titters from the audience, and I for one am shocked that I’m enjoying this.
I always think I should love poetry, but sometimes when I read it in a book I haven’t a clue what it’s supposed to mean. Seeing it performed completely changes your perspective on both the poetry and the poet. She moves on to read some of her more recent work, including pieces from The Bees and Rapture. The poetry from Rapture is my favourite, it’s beautiful. She’s captivating really.
Just as my connection between Carol Ann and my 16-year-old self’s anxieties is vanishing it’s time for LiTTLe MaCHiNe. LiTTLe MaCHiNe are a group who interpret classic poetry to music. I can’t lie. I hated them. I hate the way they write their name, I hate the way the music does nothing but detract from the meaning of the poetry. I felt patronised. I really, really didn’t like it.
I got that same feeling I did when I heard that One Direction had covered One Way Or Another: as though all credibility the poetry ever held had been sucked out of it in one fell swoop. It was like that awkward part in the pantomime where The Chuckle Brothers and Gareth Gates try to get you to sing along to some song you’d managed to block from your memory, and you just want it to end. I watched with envy as about ten couples walked out. Curse my centre row seats.
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