Simple words but in an intelligent way

A good day to start a new blog about words and language.

Carol Ann Duffy, born into a “left-wing, Catholic, working class” family in Glasgow’s Gorbals neighbourhood, has just been made Poet Laureate. Amazingly, the first woman ever to hold the position here in Britain.

It’s heartening to read, courtesy of her BBC profile, that Carol Ann’s

early interest in poetry was encouraged by two English teachers at her secondary schools, one of whom typed up her early poems, much to Duffy’s delight.
“I still remember that shock of electricity seeing them on the page,” she told The Guardian in 2007.
“They seemed to have a new life and authority, and it was as thrilling as having any book published.”

Evidence of just how important it is for kids to have teachers who recognise and encourage talent – of whatever kind – and share their enthusiam for their subject.

Carol Ann likes to use “simple words but in a complicated way”. And good writing uses simple words but in an intelligent way (with maybe the odd bit of complication thrown in to keep us all on our toes).

As this blog is also about translation, here’s one of Carol Ann’s poems, called “Translating The English, 1989”:

Welcome to my country! We have here Edwina Currie
and The Sun newspaper. Much excitement.
Also the weather has been most improving
even in February. Daffodils. (Wordsworth. Up North.) If
you like
Shakespeare or even Opera we have too the Black Market.
For two hundred quids we are talking Les Miserables,
nods being as good as winks. Don’t eat the eggs.
Wheel-clamp. Dogs. Vagrants. A tour of our wonderful
capital city is not to be missed. The Fergie,
The Princess Di and the football hooligan.

So well done, Carol Ann Duffy, and well done her school-teachers June Scriven and Jim Walker for encouraging her gift.

By Marian Dougan

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