Carson, Anne and Cope, Wendy: Genre Bending Contemporary Women Poets

First up, Anne Carson.

“The bare blue trees and bleached wooden sky of April

carve into me with knives of light.”

From ‘The Glass Essay’

Such a fabulous line. More excerpts from it –

“No, I say aloud. I force my arms down

through air which is suddenly cold and heavy as water”

I love this following extract! So identify with it.

“I can tell by the way my mother chews her toast

whether she had a good night

and is about to say a happy thing

or not.


She puts her toast down on the side of her plate.

You know you can pull the drapes in that room, she begins.

This is a coded reference to one of our oldest arguments,

from what I call The Rules Of Life series.

My mother always closes her bedroom drapes tight before going to bed at night.

I open mine as wide as possible.

I like to see everything, I say.

What’s there to see?

Moon. Air. Sunrise.

All that light on your face in the morning. Wakes you up.

I like to wake up.

At this point the drapes argument has reached a delta

and may advance along one of three channels.

There is the What You Need Is A Good Night’s Sleep channel,

the Stubborn As Your Father channel

and random channel.

More toast? I interpose strongly, pushing back my chair.”

Read the full poem here.

For some light relief, here’s a poem by Wendy Cope.

Engineers’ Corner

Why isn’t there an Engineers’ Corner in Westminster Abbey? In Britain we’ve always made more fuss of a ballad than a blueprint… How many schoolchildren dream of becoming great engineers?
— advertisement placed in The Times by the Engineering Council

We make more fuss of ballads than of blueprints —
That’s why so many poets end up rich,
While engineers scrape by in cheerless garrets.
Who needs a bridge or dam? Who needs a ditch?

Whereas the person who can write a sonnet
Has got it made. It’s always been the way,
For everybody knows that we need poems
And everybody reads them every day.

Yes, life is hard if you choose engineering —
You’re sure to need another job as well;
You’ll have to plan your projects in the evenings
Instead of going out. It must be hell.

While well-heeled poets ride around in Daimlers,
You’ll burn the midnight oil to earn a crust,
With no hope of a statue in the Abbey,
With no hope, even, of a modest bust.

No wonder small boys dream of writing couplets
And spurn the bike, the lorry and the train.
There’s far too much encouragement of poets —
That’s why this country’s going down the drain.

This post is a part of #BlogchatterA2Z 2023.

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1 Response

  1. Great Post! I’ve always been searching for poets to read about and Anne Carson and Wendy Cope would be on my reading list 🙂

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