2008

Carol Ann Duffy's New Shakespeare Poem

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0535  Wednesday, 10 September 2008

From:       Susanne Greenhalgh <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Saturday, 06 Sep 2008 09:14:19 +0100
Subject:    Carol Ann Duffy's New Shakespeare Poem

Following the controversial removal of a Carol Ann Duffy poem 'Education for 
Leisure' from a British exam board GCSE curriculum because it depicts a young 
person killing a fly (there is an oblique reference to King Lear) and then going 
out with a knife, Duffy has published another poem for the first time in 
Saturday's Guardian. It's called 'Mrs Schofield's GCSE' (referring to one of the 
complainers, who is a teacher) and is made up of references to violent acts in 
Shakespeare.

You can read it here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/sep/06/poetry.gcses

Susanne Greenhalgh,
Principal Lecturer,
Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies,
Roehampton University, London.

[Editor's Note: I was intrigued by Susanne's post, so I looked up a bit about 
the original poem and the controversy. See the following for details. -Hardy]

1.) Carol Ann Duffy - Study Guide

http://www.universalteacher.org.uk/anthology/carolannduffy.htm

Introduction

This guide is written for students and teachers who are preparing for GCSE exams 
in English literature. It contains detailed studies of the poems by Carol Ann 
Duffy in the AQA Anthology, which is a set text for the AQA's GCSE syllabuses 
for English and English Literature Specification A, from the 2004 exam onwards.

[ . . . ]

Carol Ann Duffy was born on December 23 1955, in Glasgow, Scotland's largest 
city. Carol Ann was the eldest child, and had four brothers. She was brought up 
in Stafford, in the north midlands, where her father was a local councillor, a 
parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party in 1983 and manager of Stafford FC, 
an amateur football team. Carol Ann Duffy was educated at St. Austin Roman 
Catholic Primary School, St. Joseph's Convent School and Stafford Girls' High 
School. In 1974 she went Liverpool University, where she read philosophy.

She has worked as a freelance writer in London, after which she moved to live in 
Manchester, where she currently (2002) teaches creative writing at the 
Metropolitan University. Her first collection of poetry was Standing Female Nude 
(1985), followed by Selling Manhattan (1987), The Other Country (1990), Mean 
Time (1993), The World's Wife (1999) and The Feminine Gospels (2002). She has 
also written two English versions of Grimm's folk tales, and a pamphlet, A 
Woman's Guide to Gambling, which reflects her interest in betting.

[ . . . ]

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway (1556-1623) was a real woman - famous for being the wife of 
William Shakespeare. (We do know some things about her - she was nine years 
older than her husband, but outlived him by seven years. They married in 1582, 
when Anne was already pregnant, and had three children together. Although 
Shakespeare spent many years working in London, he made frequent visits to their 
home in Stratford-upon-Avon.)

In the poem Anne sees her relationship with Shakespeare in terms of his own 
writing. She uses the sonnet form (though she does not follow all the 
conventions of rhyme or metre) which Shakespeare favoured. She suggests that as 
lovers they were as inventive as Shakespeare was in his dramatic poetry - and 
their bed might contain "forests, castles, torchlight", "clifftops" and "seas 
where he would dive for pearls." These images are very obviously erotic, and Ms. 
Duffy no doubt expects the reader to interpret them in a sexual sense. [ . . . ]

Education for Leisure

This powerful poem explores the mind of a disturbed person, who is planning 
murder. We do not know if the speaker is male or female, though this barely 
seems to matter. What we do know is that he (or she) has a powerful sense of his 
own importance, and a greater sense of grievance that no one else notices him. 
The poem contrasts the speaker's deluded belief in his own abilities with the 
real genius that is creative. We do not know if the poem is based on any real 
person, though it has echoes of the true story of the young American woman who 
shot dead several of her classmates, and when asked about her reasons answered, 
"I don't like Mondays" [ . . . ]

The poem's title seems ironic - we see that the speaker's education has done him 
little good. It has not enabled him to find work, nor to cope with the boredom 
of enforced "leisure." But this may not be the fault of the school and teachers 
- if the response to King Lear is anything to go by (remembering a metaphor to 
justify the violence against which it was meant to be a protest).

2.) Poet's rhyming riposte leaves Mrs Schofield 'gobsmacked'
Esther Addley
The Guardian,
Saturday September 6, 2008

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/sep/06/gcses.poetry.carol.ann.duffy

"Today I am going to kill something," says the unnamed protagonist of Carol Ann 
Duffy's poem Education for Leisure. "Anything. / I have had enough of being 
ignored and today / I am going to play God."

Duffy, one of Britain's most admired poets, might have been tempted this week to 
feel the same way, following the news that the exam board AQA had ordered 
schools to remove from its GCSE curriculum an anthology containing the poem 
because it supposedly glorified knife crime.

[ . . . ]

"What it seems to me to be saying is that Shakespeare - the greatest writer - 
some of his stuff is a bit dangerous [too]," Duffy's literary agent Peter 
Strauss said yesterday. "It's saying, look at what's been written previously 
before you criticise this."

3.) Top exam board asks schools to destroy book containing knife poem
Polly Curtis, education editor
The Guardian,
Thursday September 4, 2008

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2008/sep/04/gcses.english

Britain's biggest exam board has been accused of censorship after it removed a 
poem containing references to knife crime from the GCSE syllabus.

Officials at the AQA board said their request that schools destroy the anthology 
containing the Carol Ann Duffy poem Education for Leisure had been triggered by 
concerns in two schools about references to knives. A spokeswoman confirmed the 
decision had been made in the context of the current spate of knife-related murders.

[ . . . ]


_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Original Play, THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH, PART II

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0534  Wednesday, 10 September 2008

From:       Noah Lukeman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wednesday, 3 Sep 2008 19:23:40 -0400
Subject:    MACBETH II

Forthcoming from Pegasus Books in hardcover in October 2008, an original play, 
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH, PART II, by Noah Lukeman.

The Tragedy of Macbeth, Part II, picks up where Shakespeare's Macbeth  left off, 
imagining a resolution to the witches' original prophecy that "the seed of 
Banquo" will become kings. Written in blank verse, adhering to the traditional 
Shakespearean five-act structure, it is executed in the form of what would be a 
faithful sequel.

For more information see:  www.macbethtwo.com

More information to follow at time of publication.


_______________________________________________________________
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Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions 
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My Name Is Will

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0532  Friday, 5 September 2008

[1]  From:    Jess Winfield <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
      Date:    Monday, 01 Sep 2008 11:56:02 -0700
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0523 My Name Is Will

[2]  From:    Nicole Coonradt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
      Date:    Wed, 03 Sep 2008 05:55:54 +0000
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0523 My Name Is Will


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Jess Winfield <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 01 Sep 2008 11:56:02 -0700
Subject: 19.0523 My Name Is Will
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0523 My Name Is Will

On Sep 1, 2008, at 10:03 AM, Larry Weiss wrote:

 >I know that Eliz R killed more Catholics than the number of
 >Protestants killed by Mary. But that doesn't mean that she did not
 >have a "don't ask, don't tell" policy with respect to recusants
 >generally. Campion, for example, was executed because he was
 >actively trying to kill the Queen, and the "rebels" referred to my
 >Nicole Coonradt were also trying to overthrow her government.
 >Ordinary recusant Catholics, possibly including John Shakespeare,
 >were pretty much left alone.

I think this assessment by Larry Weiss is misleading. If there is  evidence that 
Campion was "actively trying to kill the queen," I  haven't seen it. All 
accounts (Wilson and Sams come to mind) of  Campion's trial for "treason" 
indicate it was a sham. Reports of his  execution -- even Anthony Munday's -- 
agree that up to and including  his last moments on the scaffold, he bore 
Elizabeth no ill will and in  fact proclaimed his love and respect for her. His 
stand seems to have been one advocating a simple freedom of religion.

I am neither Catholic nor gay, but the parallel drawn to today's  "don't ask 
don't tell" policy, and the suggestion that it is in any  way benign, is 
chilling. As with gays in the military, to say that  ordinary recusant Catholics 
were "pretty much left alone" diminishes  the extent of their isolation. As 
second-class citizens without  either sympathy or legal protection, they were 
subject to state- sanctioned discrimination and harassment by local guilds, 
magistrates  and other governmental authorities -- harassment that might 
include,  say, overly-scrupulous financial auditing, banishment from public 
offices for refusal to sign the Oath of Supremacy, large fines for  small 
misdemeanors -- all examples of financial distress which  the  Shakespeare 
family seem to have endured in the 1570s and 1580s.

To be sure, Elizabeth had reason to be jumpy, as after 1570 (as  Kennedy rightly 
points out) there were numerous Catholic plots to  assassinate her and put Mary 
Queen of Scots on the throne. But to  paint all executed Catholics with the 
brush of conspiracy, and to  minimize the effect of the Crown's policies on 
ordinary Catholics in  the provinces, seems to oversimplify the historical record.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Nicole Coonradt <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Wed, 03 Sep 2008 05:55:54 +0000
Subject: 19.0523 My Name Is Will
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0523 My Name Is Will

Of course the Protestants did not think the Catholics were "real" Christians and 
"Papist" is indeed a bitter word.  Look at the source.  The point is that the 
Protestants did not behave as Christians, not whether they believed those they 
killed were Christians.  It's beyond comprehension how anyone can perform 
unspeakable tortures and executions in the name of Christ.  How is this behavior 
not hypocritical?  Isn't Christ supposed to be about love and mercy?  And how is 
the "evidence" of the Pope as anti-Christ being used?  Yes, the idea did 
originate with the Reformation, which is rather key.  Do people like Paisley 
strike us as acting in a Christian manner--you know, "love thy neighbor," etc.? 
  Certainly they think they are, but is that the reality?  Was it in 
Shakespeare's day?  Was he blind to such details?  Do we imagine that the Bard 
lived in such unrest but was unaffected by it, that it did not influence his art?

Winfield was right-- the clever shift is that the Protestant laws made a refusal 
to take the oath(s) not heresy but treason.  (See topical discussion in Macbeth 
4.2.)

I wonder if Larry Weiss could explain and provide some evidence for Campion as 
would-be hit-man "actively trying to kill the queen"?  That statement confuses 
me.  Do you mean that he actually was or that QEI and her supporters believed 
that he was?

Thanks,
Nicole

_______________________________________________________________
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Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions 
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Othello and Cassio

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0533  Friday, 5 September 2008

[1]  From:    Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
      Date:    Monday, 01 Sep 2008 15:00:30 -0400
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0524 Othello and Cassio

[2]  From:    John W Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
      Date:    Tuesday, 02 Sep 2008 12:26:40 -0400
      Subj:    Re: SHK 19.0524 Othello and Cassio


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Monday, 01 Sep 2008 15:00:30 -0400
Subject: 19.0524 Othello and Cassio
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0524 Othello and Cassio

 >>Larry Weiss <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>: "despite his foreign birth and blackness"
 >
 >>Nowadays Othello is generally treated as a black, but in
 >Shakespeare's day, he was almost certainly an Arab or a Berber.
 >
 >Probably; but they play still calls him "black." Gradations seem not to have 
been too important.
 >>
 >>Larry Weiss writes: "Othello is clearly not aristocratic or even gentle..."
 >>
 >>Not so clear, Larry.
 >>
 >>The ex-slave is descended from men of "royal seige," or so he claims.

Yes, he does; but I doubt that a Mauritanian royal would be understood as 
equivalent to a European king. And, let's ask why Othello feels it appropriate 
to make this somewhat gratuitous, out of left field, observation.

 >Larry goes on: "But in a meritocracy, Iago (who is by far the most intelligent 
character in the play, and knows it) feels the lash of that acutely."
 >
 >Was Venice ever truly a meritocracy instead of an oligarchy of ruling 
plutocrat families?

I don't know. I suppose we can ask an historian about the real Venice. I was 
only talking about the fictitious Venice in the play.

 >Doesn't Iago feel entitled to the succession while denigrating Cassio's merits?

I think the point I made is that he seems to feel he deserves the place; 
entitlement is a more complex issue.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       John W Kennedy <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 02 Sep 2008 12:26:40 -0400
Subject: 19.0524 Othello and Cassio
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0524 Othello and Cassio

Joachim Martillo <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

 >["Othello"] culminates in an honor killing. Stereotypes have
 >not changed much since Shakespeare's day.

I realize that the practical effect is much the same, but does not  "honor 
killing" differ from simple revenge upon an adulterous spouse  at least in 
perspective? I should think that Othello's thoughts are more in line with those 
of Henry anent Anne in Charles Williams' "Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury":

She has taken my image of her love and broken it: she dies.

John W Kennedy

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Aaron Manson

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0531  Friday, 5 September 2008

From:       Felix de Villiers <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:       Tuesday, 2 Sep 2008 08:41:48 +0200
Subject:    Aaron Manson

Aaron Manson,

I must thank Sam Small for reminding me in which play that monstrous Aaron comes 
up, as I think about him quite a lot. He is the one character In Shakespeare 
that is defiant in his evil doings until the bitter end, like Don Giovanni who 
goes on unrepentant until he is swallowed by the flames of hell. So Aaron is a 
key figure in Shakespeare. There is so much violence and cruelty around him that 
he is, in a way, its logical conclusion. Both Aaron and and Charles Manson where 
the products of the world they lived in, the difference being that the one lives 
in fantasy and the other lived in reality. I would not like to encounter a real 
Charles Manson and if I did I would call the police. Yet slamming and punishing 
them and being morally indignant about monsters is not enough : The real ones 
get loads of fan mail in prison. We have to understand the social background 
that breeds such creatures.

Yours,
Felix

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the opinions 
expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the editor assumes no 
responsibility for them.

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