Four Women Poets

The title “Four Women Poets” suggests the poets are feminist writers and that their work is only about the hardships of women, but this is a misconception of the term “women poets”. As Carol Ann Duffy said “I am a poet before I was a woman poet”. The poets are only deemed “women poets” because of their gender but they have much more to say than merely on roles of women in society, and have strong opinions on politics, money, education and on relationships.

This anthology is a collection of “protest poems” which deals with everyday issues from education to money. Making Money” is a poem written by Carol Ann Duffy and she is essentially protesting about people’s obsessive nature towards money and the things they would do to obtain it. Duffy’s choice of language and words enhances and reinforces the poems ability to convey her point to the reader. She uses vulgar terms such as: “suck you”, “lick you” and “sifting shit” to help put her point across effectively. Also within the poem there is use of slang terms: “Cash. Loot. Dough. Income. Stash. ” “Megabucks. Wages. Interest. Wealth”

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At the beginning of most of her stanzas Duffy has listed words that we relate to money. By doing this she cleverly illustrates how, as a society, we are obsessed with all things money orientated. The poem contains the phrase: “Making a living is making a killing these days” This is clever writing, as Duffy does not like the things people do for money. The phrase implies that people kill to make money, making references to the mafia. But it could also be interpreted in a business sense with the words “making a killing” referring to closing a big deal.

It can also be a summation of the whole poem. Duffy also plays with words. The term “Big deal” can be read to have two different meanings. It could mean what it obviously states, a big deal in a business way, or be read as a sarcastic, demeaning remark. “Making Money” is full of vivid imagery. Each new stanza describes a different scenario. For example in the first stanza Duffy details how an Indian man makes his money: “who squats by an open drain for hours, sifting shit for the price of a chapatti. ”

This is a simple sentence yet proves to be very effective, it provides an image of the degrading work a man has to do for a small amount of money. The statement illustrates Duffy’s simple use of everyday language to communicate her point to her readers. The simile: “The economy booms like cannon, far out at sea on a lone ship” is an interesting way of describing the state of the economy because it can also be seen as a paradox. “The economy booms” can be seen in a positive light but ” like a cannon” instantly makes it a negative phrase.

This is a unique simile in that it does prove to be thought provoking and effective. The poem consists of five varied length stanzas but there is no real sense of a set structure just that each stanza portrays a different way of making money. “Making Money” is Carol Ann Duffy’s personal protest against people’s infatuation with money. She may have chosen to write this certain poem because as a child she was brought up in a Catholic, working class, family. This therefore meant that they didn’t have a great deal of money and earned everything they had by working hard.

This particular poem relates well to others in the anthology. Such as “Debt”, about a man whose life is consumed by the thought of money, and “War Photographer” which presents a different way of making money. All these poems include the theme of money whether it is an underlining theme or is more explicit. My second chosen poem deals with the issue of education and is appropriately titled “Education For Leisure”. Carol Ann Duffy chooses to adopt the voice of a mentally disturbed individual and describes the mindset of a murderer.

The title suggests that education did not do anything for this person and it merely prepared the person for a life of doing nothing. The author is protesting about how education fails people and can lead them to a criminal life. It is written from the first person perspective it is obvious to see that the person has a lot of self worth: “I am a genius” “I am going to play God” These statements illustrate that there is a sense of misplaced superiority. Duffy’s choice of language helps to enhance this by the use of repetition of the words “I am”.

This proves to be effective as readers can get an insight in to the self-obsession of the character. Throughout this poem Duffy uses a lot of imagery to show how mentally disturbed the person is. She takes simple situations such as: “I squash a fly against a window” and turns them into sequences of events that could lead someone to murder. The poem has a clear structure to it with five, quatrains and each end with a full stop, which creates an abrupt end and has the effect of suspense and creates an atmosphere.

The last stanza ends with: “I touch your arm. This sentence refers to the reader and suggests that the reader is their next intended victim. Duffy has used this clever conclusion to her poem and is an interesting way to end her poem as it makes her character almost real. It also engages the reader and draws them in. “The Complete Alternative History of the World” is a poem written by Liz Lochhead passionately protesting against the labeling and categorizing of women. This poem takes the biblical creation story and satirizes it to illustrate that she is against the labeling of women.

It is divided into two parts; the first very cleverly depicts the creation story whereas the second is fast paced and is a list of the labels given to women. The first section is witty, sharp and sarcastic. Lochhead’s approach to the creation story turns the whole thing on its head. She uses coarse, striking language: “Stark bollock naked (Scuse my French, beg your pardon)” Showing her sarcasm. This then creates the right mood and tone for the rest of the poem and her bold use of language aids her in her protest. Lochhead also uses sarcasm to put across her feminist view in this poem when she writes: But there was Something Lacking…. He knew exactly whit it wis … A slave” Lochhead has chosen to use the word slave instead of women because it gives the poem its twist. She refers to the women as being seen as a slave and not women. She has elements of clichi s and tongue and cheek phrases: “Oh a right bed of roses! ” which all add to the effectiveness of the poem as a whole. Her unique choice of language enhances the poems ability to express Lochhead’s point. She very skillfully uses the repetition of the word “not” to reinforce her attitude against women being pigeon holed.

At first it is light-hearted but the repetition of “not” becomes defiant and serious. She uses words such as: “Nun”, “Little Women”, “Jezebel” and “Delilah” to illustrate her point. The second part of the poem is clever, sharp and also humorous. It is fast paced because it has a stronger sense of structure. It has a regular rhyme scheme: “lotion” and “motion” this giving it a child like essence. This has the effect of making the poem light hearted, lightening the mood. The technique that Liz Lochhead has adopted to write this poem is to write it as a conversational, chatty, informal piece.

This makes it easier for the reader to relate to the poem and to understand it more fully. She has also used a vast range of colloquial expressions such as: “frazzle”, “Better Half” and “Little women”. There is also a hint of cockney slang “would you Adam and Eve it? “. In this poem Lochhead has chosen to use references to popular culture such as T. V, music and actresses for example she uses song titles “Living Doll” and ” Poetry in Motion” which illustrates her “Interest in the immediate, living and the relevant”. The main theme throughout this poem is that women should be themselves and not to just fit in to a mould.

Liz Lochhead wants to break the mould and the attitudes of men. She wants to stop the labeling of women and in “Men Talk (Rap)” she protests against the demeaning labels given to women and their conversation. Overall I feel that “Making Money” and “The Complete Alternative History of the World” are successfully written as protest poems. The authors of both poems have clearly illustrated what they are objecting to and have done it in a clear and unique way. “Education for Leisure” is cleverly written as Duffy has adopted the voice of a murderer but does not clearly show what Duffy is protesting against.