3 Stars Reviews

Book Review: The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy

Carol Ann Duffy’s award-winning 2011 poetry collection, The Bees, was Duffy’s first publication as Poet Laureate. It explores a variety of topics and themes, all bound together by the subtle symbolism of the bee.

Yes, I think a poem is a spell of kinds
that keeps things living in a written line,
whatever’s lost or leaving – lock of rhyme –
and so I write and write and write your name

Carol Ann Duffy is probably one of my favourite poets, or at least the one whose work I have read and enjoyed the most. Her range and accessibility made her the perfect Poet Laureate, a post which she has recently resigned, to be succeeded by Simon Armitage. Many of Duffy’s collections focus on a specific theme; The World’s Wife looks at the role of women in history, while Rapture is very much focused on love, desire, and heartbreak. In contrast, The Bees is a much more eclectic mix, touching on all sorts of topics. The styles differ too – there are a few drinking songs thrown in amongst the more traditional poetic formats. These variations of theme and form make for interesting reading and each poem feels distinct. Personally, I prefer a more consistent collection with a core focus, like Duffy’s other poetry books, but there are some definite gems amongst The Bees, and the bee motif throughout ties everything together well.

Rating: 3 / 5 stars

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