Charlotte Square Gardens
15 August, 20.00
The pressure must be intense. Duffy’s recital is given such a glowing introduction that I feel nervous for this poet of soul-exposing verse, suddenly thrust into the limelight.
I needn’t have worried. While Duffy’s annunciation has flaws these do not impede comprehension, and the rhythms and intonations in which she reads draw attention to the multiple, often highly amusing, facets of each work. She evidently knows the pieces inside-out; her meticulously considered delivery wringing new layers of meaning from each word.
Her poems are like cosy blankets of truth; she expresses previously un-discussed but universal truths so precisely that one feels her words are the very definitions of those concepts. Lines such as “Sometimes, although we are faithless, the truth enters our hearts, that small familiar pain,” vocalise these personal truths, from our inner lives, and the knowledge of sharing this experience brings strength and comfort.
All Duffy’s works, in accordance with ideas in her own poem “Prayer,” are prayers, in their candid expression of the human soul. As she speaks one hears, and feels, one’s most truthful yet private emotions resonate through the room, spiritually bonding this disparate crowd together; though no one looks at each other and discusses their own musings on life, of course, but by proxy they discuss her work.
Duffy is not religious. She would I’m sure strongly object to a depiction of herself as a kind of spiritual idol. However, poetry itself, partly via Duffy’s position of poet laureate, can provide a supportive, spiritual nucleus for our now predominantly atheist world, if only all would partake of it.
Duffy delivers enlightening and truthful poems wryly, with incredible lightness of touch. Her recital is a fresh, edifying and inspiring experience; if you’re not familiar with her work don’t deny yourself any longer.