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Critical Response of Duff and Pugh Essay

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Critical Response

Carol Ann-Duffy & Sheenagh Pugh are both strongly opinionated politically – many of their poems are charged with a scornful, impassioned energy directed toward the Thatcherite days, resenting years of economic deprivation & ruin of many young lives in their generation – this sets the basis for a general distaste for politicians, illustrated in Duffy’s parody of parliament ‘Weasel Words’, mocking the meaningless socio-jargon that MPs use to wriggle and slither their way out of answering straight questions. The same jargon is used to greater, more realistic effect in Pugh’s ‘Official Briefing’ (a biblical parody of Jesus sacking the temple & casting out the money changers [Synoptic Gospels: Mark 11:15-19] & something of an exposé of the arrogant, above-the-law attitude synonymous with positions & abuse of positions of relative power in this country – such as Harriet Harman scraping another car in Marylebone, drove on, and upon being questioned by a member of the public to report her, was heard to remark “You know where I am, and where to find me” and drove away, implying she is far & beyond the law.) – Their approach to the theme & contextual emphasis differs. Pugh assumes a calmer, concluded air, laying out the rooted conservative - authoritarian attitude of these ministers – ‘clear contempt for law & order...Arrogant attempt to impose the whims of minorities upon...interference with private enterprise’. The parody is obvious, with the mention of the whip & the damaged property in question being mainly ‘currency & pigeons’, & dubbing him (Christ) a ‘disaffected itinerant’. This emphasises the ministers’ reckoning that they are aloof,. Duffy is more metaphorical and damning of the matter at hand, the very title ...


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...motional poetry, much of which is biased and embittered. Much of her poetry is insensitive – but not ineffective. ‘Shooting Stars’ seems to be set in a concentration camp (something I doubt Duffy has any experience of), and her use of indefinite, fragmented verse & scarce rhyme to convey the perpetual threat & faceless fear in the camp is powerful. The lasting anonymity of the narrator’s voice gives the verse poignancy as well as the tragic futile monologue, combined with the harrowing use of a metaphorical sunset – she is to die – this will be the last sunset, the onset of eternal darkness – There is no doubting the weight this poem carries. Duffy does not go as far as to be abstract or even observant here but she simply calms down a little, which lets a lyrical quality surface within her verse, which is not apparent in her other brash, misandry-fuelled works.




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