Room 313

adventures in teaching creative writing

The Bees REVIEW

The Bees

This newest collection from Carol Ann Duffy, Britain’s current poet laureate, buzzes with possibility but ultimately falls flat. Duffy has fun with word play, rhyme, and alliteration, which makes some of the poems enjoyable to read. She lampoons English teachers in “Mrs Schofield’s GCSE” to humorous effect. Her poem “Rings,” written to memorialize Prince William and Kate’s wedding, is quite lovely, but I had already read it before buying this volume during my vacation in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Too many of these poems left me scratching my head. Maybe I need to be Scottish (or just British) in order to understand them. References to towns, cities, and historical figures populate these poems, making them feel like homework assignments. Look up John Barleycorn, Moniack Mhor, Simon Powell, and Wiltshire, and then you might have a chance of understanding some of these poems.

I guess what I’m longing for is the passionate, beautiful verse in Duffy’s RAPTURE collection. There are a few wonderful poems in THE BEES like “Cold” and “Music,” but they are as rare as a queen bee in a hive.

P. S. A few bee poems are included in each section of this poetry book. I would have liked them all lumped together in one cohesive section.

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