Saturday, September 06, 2008

Shakespeare's Knives

The Guardian reports that Carol Ann Duffy has written a poem called Mrs Schofield’s GCSE in response to the removal of her poem from the GCSE syllabus. Mrs Schofield describes this response poem as “a bit weird. But having read her other poems I found they were all a little bit weird. But that's me."

You know, I do think Mrs Schofield seems a bit weird.


Jim Murdoch said...

The paragraph that caught my attention was:

The AQA said last night that schools were not being urged to pulp the anthology: "This is not about destroying books. They are allowed to continue teaching the poem, if they wish, but they are not going to be examined on it," it said.

They're still allowed to teach the damn thing? So what's the point?

Rob said...

Sounds like embarrassed backtracking to me. Yesterday The Guardian reported:

"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."

Perhaps they'll continue to backtrack?

claire askew said...

Mrs Schofield doesn't 'get' this new poem... and she's allowed to teach and assess children?!

*tears hair out*

PS: THAT is why I love CAD.

Background Artist said...

I think you are right that this is all a big hoo ha over nothing.

However i cannot defend the powerful media instrument of the guardian which is the main champion of duffy on this issue (she used to be poetry ed there), as they are censoring the free speech of others who articulate a position which doesn't agree 100% with theirs or articulates with any clarity, thoughts which when expressed, frame the debate in a way Duffy does not appear as a victiom.

i explored this issue, outlining a very innoffensive, clearly intelligent account of the various different things and stages on the criticas radar, of a voice speaking as the username dannan, whiose posting rights where removed, but whose body of text, opinion, was not.

This, i think weird, as why would they remove somebody's rights to free speech, but not what they had said in public?

Not only was the text innoffensive, but caused other posters to react in a way which made them think and for some who had been caught in a cycle of demonisation of one another's viewpoint based not on them being humanly bad, but misunderstanding the intent; the text actually caused them to start being civil wioth one another and appear more human themselves, taking the debate out of the flames of outrage in which Duffy is cast as joan of arc and Schofield a witch who the tribunal at the books blog -- following the line of staff member richard lea who cast the first opinion highly sympathetic to duffy -- are now baying for her blood.

Clearly they did this as faceless person/s responsible for controlling how the debate goes and ultimately how duffy is cast in public, decided Dannan was too dangerous to be allowed to freely speak, as s/he was making others think and not blindly agree with lea and michael rosen, who did a little rhyme in response to his friend *carol ann*, in repsonse to her poem being took off the syllabus.

"And who sang / Ban, ban Ca-Caliban? / And who sings / Ban, ban, Ca-Carol Ann?"

not the most metaphysical of lyrics is it.

And her response, i thought insipid and no different than humasn speech really, apart from the line about the moon following usd as human beings; and much like the original poem, which i as a critic, thought not that excellent.

The dannan text i wrote using the same vatic principle Duffy's cheerleaders (bear in mind she doesn't do prose) is so well written and spoken about for claiming to use. The *prayers* she says she writes and which are then championed by this organ as great poetry.

This as she claims own prose is *turgid*, this in my mind counts her out as being in the very top flight of 5 and less percent of practitioners who can work equally well in all three mediums, live, poetry and critical prose.

Then i went in as immram (a bardic term and label for a genre of otherworldly tales in the corpus of gealic mmyth), which, again, they left on, but removed the posting rights, which i took as confirmation of what i susopected. That i was being censorsed by a very few ppl, on a thread whose orgionating organ, claimed was in response to the principle of official sponsored madness on this issue, and which displayed the very intolerance it purports to find outrageous.

They then removed immram's right to speak, but agaijn, left on the text as it was clearly written by an intellegent mind, totally inoffensive and making others question a bit deeper before acting like pavlov dogs as the Guardian startegists have always had it until recently with the rise of the net and ppl getting to speak free for the first time in human history.

I then wnet in as immrama (plural of immram) and this was removed, as well as two responses by other posetrs which were inoffensive, thanked me for what i had written and used it as a muse themself (one of whom was a teacher traceyk, deeply concerned on this issue)

Clearly this censoring of my free speech, is done because a few ppl think they can dictate the course of British poetry, and this is why i am not joining you in defending Duffy as vehemently as most of the poetic community claiming it is all about free speech being eroded, and using Duffy as the figurehead, which suits the guardian and the Official Verse Culture of Britan, jolly super.

And what i expect to happen from experience is, that in a few days, when things have moved on and everyone's forgotten this thread, they will remove what they can of the dannan, immram and immrama texts, just to be extra clever and make sure there is no evidence of any dissent occuring on this matter.

And i am using ppls like yrs and
Swifts site, as you are fellow colleagues whose work i respect and know have a brain and claim to be like me, a liberal who cghampions the right of others, and even if you do not agree with them, at least allow them to speak, and as long as they are not using inoffensive language, will allow their voice to be heard obn your own organ, unlike the guardian and others who will not allow me to speak as a poet at theirs.

All this over one man in a bedsit speaking his mind. Poetry Wars.

Background Artist said...

oops, sorry - typos made it unclear

duffy claims her own prose is *turgid*

and of course *as long as their speech is not *offensive*" not *inoffensive as appeared.

Rob said...

Claire - the same thought occurred to me.

I agree with what you and BA were saying in the previous post about the rigidity of the curriculum - it seems wrong.

BA - I actually don't care what happens in the Guardian blogs. I expect they removed your comments as a matter of routine because they've banned you or something. The issue, in any case, isn't free speech.

Rob said...

Also, BA, can't you at least try to make your points using fewer words?

Background Artist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frances said...

I fear Duffy may have taken too great a risk by pointing out violence in Shakespeare as part of her riposte. Those responsible for setting the curriculum no doubt have been oblivious to these themes. No doubt Shakespeare will now be removed from the syllabus and replaced with A History of the Teletubbies.

Background Artist said...

oops, soory rob, they did NOT REMOVE my comments, that's the hole point, they left them on, beacause they felt they would appear..?.. if they removed them.

they only removed the right to speak freely to an audience who use that place, i think because htey are not as clever as they think, these very few ppl who think they can control the course of british poetry, imho.

Dominic Rivron said...

Something else needs to be said: Mrs Scofield's GCSE is a fantastic poem, if you ask me. It's quite funny to think of GCSE pupils years hence studying it - and having to find out who Mrs S was!

Apart from anything else, it seems churlish to me to call someone who immortalises you "a bit weird".

Roddy said...

I suspect that the majority of this story is press guff - little real substance.