Why secondary school ruined poetry

I recently picked up a copy of Carol Ann Duffy's 'Love Poems' - and read from cover to cover. I loved it.

Carol was on my secondary syllabus and I hated her. I thought she had no idea about love and used clunky descriptions.

I now think she knows everything about love and uses skilfully weaved imagery. What's changed?

Well, I grew up. And I would argue, school gave us a syllabus about love before we even knew the emotion romantically.

So here's a poem which pretty much sums up both my review of the book, and my feelings on that English lesson!

School Syllabus

What I didn’t know was

Carol Ann Duffy is a genius

and knows what it is to love:

We sat crisp in year seven blazers and chortled

at the English teacher’s expense –

passion never in trend

and we wondered, cruelly,

if both she and Carol were single,

or gay

and discarded that poem of a moon – onion

like something soiled or distasteful.

Today I check out Carol Ann Duffy at the library,

in an act of pure nostalgia for those girls

and their rolled up skirts

and find brilliance,


and irony

that we were handed this work

at a time when we did not even know ourselves.

#opinion #schoolcurriculum

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