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Do you think if I came back people would talk to me? There are only like a dozen or so of you who post (out of, what, over a hundred?).

And now, a poll:

[Poll #2041617]


May. 1st, 2009 08:20 pm
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Okay, it was stalled a little by my exam last week, but here is the final installment of Carol Anne Duffy's The Laughter of Stafford Girls' High. The beginning, if you want to refresh your memory/read the whole thing at once, is here. I'd be really interested to know what everyone thought, so if you wanted to post a comment after this it would be great to see who read it/enjoyed it/hated it/etc. Onwards!

Small hours. The moon tracked Mrs Mackay as she reached the edge
of the sleeping town, houses dwindling to fields, the road
twisting up and away into the distant hills. She caught her mind
making anagrams - grow heed, stab, rats - and forced herself
to chant aloud as she walked. Hedgerow. Bats. Star. Her head
cleared. The town was below her now, dark and hunched,
a giant husband bunched in his sleep. Mrs Mackay climbed on,
higher and higher, keeping close to the ditch, till the road snaked
in a long S then levelled out into open countryside. Shore,
love, steer, low, master, night loom, riven use, no.
Horse. Vole.
Trees. Owl. Stram. Moonlight. Universe. On. Wed, loop, wand,
drib, tiles, pay thaw, god.
Dew. Pool. Dawn. Bird. Stile. Pathway.
Dog. She arrived at the fringe of a village as morning broke.

Miss Batt held Miss Fife in her arms at dawn, the small room ... )
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You'll be excited to know that this is (or I plan for it to be) the penultimate post for this poem. You can find the beginning here.

Mr and Mrs Mackay silently ate. She eyed him
boning his fish, slicing it down to the backbone,
sliding the skeleton out, fastidious, deft. She spied him
eat from the right of his plate to the left, ordered, precise.
She clenched herself for his voice. A very nice dish
from the bottomless deep
. Bad words ran in her head like mice.
She wanted to write them down in the crossword lights.
14 Across: F . . . 17 Down: F . . . . . . 2 Down: F . . . . . .
Mr Mackay reached for the OED. She bit her lip. A word
for one who is given to walking by night, not necessarily
in sleep
. She felt her heart flare in its dark cave, hungry, blind,
open its small beak. Beginning with N. Mrs Mackay
moved to the window and stared at the ravenous night. Later,

awake in the beached boat of the marital bed... )
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A short snippet, since I've already posted once today. Click here for the start of the poem.

That Monday morning Doctor Bream, at her desk,
didn't yet know that the laughter of Stafford Girls' High
would not go away. But when she stood on the stage,
garbed in her Cambridge cap and gown, and told the school
to quietly stand and contemplate a fresh and serious start
to the week, and closed her eyes - the hush like an air balloon
tethered with roped - a low and vulgar giggle yanked
at the silence. Doctor Bream kept her eyes clenched, hoping
that if she ignored it all would be well. Clumps of laughter
sprouted among the row upon row of girls. Doctor Bream,
determined and blind, started the morning's hymn. I vow
to thee my country . . .
A flushed Miss Fife started to play.
All earthly things above . . . The rest of the staff joined in -

entire and whole and perfect... )

By the way, while I'm thinking about it, how many of you are reading along with me, waiting with baited breath for each installment? I'd better not be talking to myself here...
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And now, the second part of The Laughter of Staffor Girls' High. The first part, for those of you who missed it, can be found here.

Morning assembly - the world like Quink outside,
the teachers perched in a solemn row on the stage,
the Fifth and Sixth forms clever and tall, Miss Fife
at the school piano, the Head herself, Doctor Bream,
at the stand - was a serious affair. Jerusalem hung
in the air till the last of Miss Fife's big chords
wobbled away. Yesterday, intoned Doctor Bream,
the Lower School behaved in a foolish way, sniggering
for most of the late afternoon
. She glared at the girls
through her pince-nez and paused for dramatic effect.
But the First and Second and Third and Fourth Forms
started to laugh, each girl trying to swallow it down
till the sound was like distant thunder, the opening chord

of a storm... )

read this

Apr. 24th, 2005 02:37 pm
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Bought Carol Anne Duffy's Feminine Gospels for Bex yesterday. It contains a fantastic poem which a lot of you may know but which I had somehow missed called The Laughter of Stafford Girls' High. It's amazing. Seriously. You must all read it. Hence, I'm posting it up here. However, because it's rather long, and because CAD isn't really that famous, because, well, most contemporary poet's just aren't, I can't find it on the net. Therefore I have to transcribe it myself. Therefore you're getting it in parts. Fortunately, it comes in parts (seven, although this, the first, is the longest, so I may post more than one at once henceforth). Here's part one (abject apologies in advance for screaming typos):

The Laughter of Stafford Girls' High

It was a girl in the Third Form, Carolann Clare,
who, bored with the lesson, the rivers of England -
Brathay, Coquet, Crake, Dee, Don, Goyt,
Rothay, Tyne, Swale, Tees, Wear, Wharfe . . .

had passed a note, which has never been found,
to the classmate in front, Emily Jane, a girl,
who adored the teacher, Miss V. Dunn MA,
steadily squeaking her chalk on the board -
Allen, Clough, Duddon, Feugh, Greta, Hindburn,
Irwell, Kent, Leven, Lowther, Lune, Sprint . . .

but who furtively opened the folded note,
torn from the back of the King James Bible, read
what was scribbled there and laughed out loud.

It was a miserable, lowering winter's day... )