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Mean Time

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  688 ratings  ·  45 reviews
Paperback. Pub Date :2013-05-23 Pages: 64 Language: English Publisher: Pan Macmillan In her prize-winning fourth collection. Mean Time. Carol Ann Duffy dramatizes scenes from childhood. adolescence and adulthood. finding moments of grace or consolation in memory. love and language amid the complexities of life. These are powerful poems of loss. betrayal and desire.
Paperback, 48 pages
Published May 23rd 2013 by Picador (first published 1993)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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 ·  688 ratings  ·  45 reviews

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Steven Godin

The older she gets,
the more she awakes
with somebody's face strewn in her head
like petals which once made a flower.

What everyone does
is sit by a desk
and stare at the view, till the time
where they live reappears. Mostly in words.

Imagine a girl
turning to see
love stand by a window, taller,
clever, anointed with sudden light.

Yes, like an angle then,
to be truthful now.
At first a secret, erotic, mute;
today a language she cannot recall.

And we're all owed joy,
sooner or later.
The trick's to remember wh
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is my favorite of the three Duffy collections I’ve read thus far. I’d encountered “Valentine” before. Like “Stuffed,” about a sadistic taxidermist, it’s gently creepy; an offbeat love poem turns into something almost disturbing, with vocabulary like “blind,” “fierce,” “Lethal” and “knife.” There’s a subtle chronological progression in the collection: nostalgia for childhood leads into faltering relationships, with a late hint of happy grown-up life in “The Windows.” I especially liked “Caul ...more
georgia ☽
"It seems we live in those staggering years
Only to haunt them"

i'm currently studying this for school- and duffy just has such a wonderful way with words. i think taking each poem apart and highlighting key themes and ideas has only served to make me appreciate it even more.

"The way the shy stars go stuttering on".

i don't absolutely love every poem in this collection- but the ones i do love more than make up for the not-so-great ones.

a few of my favourites: adultery, the grammar of light, confess
J.S. Watts
Jun 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carol ann Duffy's 1993 fourth collection is classic Duffy. These poems are mini tales of memory and the complexities of life from childhood to adulthood. Tightly coiled images and precision wording make for some excellent poetry
Jun 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I find Duffy bleak and depressing. Her poetry is dull and bland.
Dec 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I actually really liked these poems, especially after we discussed them in class so they made more sense.
Jul 20, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
3.5 stars!
Sloan Porter
I liked this book for the technical skill Duffy displays. She's very precise with her words and the structures are very intentional, which I appreciate. At times, I found myself somewhat detached from the material. A lot of the pieces felt like poetic streams of consciousness, and though it is done well, I couldn't fully connect emotionally. The book intensifies halfway through until the end, and I found some poems very dark and eerie in this second half. I enjoy a good dark poem so those I foun ...more
Jun 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Faves: "Nostalgia," "Away and See," "Small Female Skull," "Valentine," "Havisham," "Disgrace," and "Mean Time"
Andy Luke
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Too removed, too misjudging in assumption, poetryist trappings of self-reference, form and succinct-as-garble, it said little to me about my life. There's cruelty abounding, in 'The Grammar of Light', 'Havisham', 'Never Go Back', 'Adultery'. Yes, many pieces have a choice phrases like 'dustjacket smile', but this was lacking familiarity, intimacy, humour and relevance. Yes there are stellar poems: the hopefully whispering 'Prayer'; the easy yet intimate 'Beachcomber'; the beautiful 'Oslo' and 'M ...more
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
On a few occasions towards the end of Mean Time ("Close", "Havisham", "The Suicide"), I found myself uncomfortably reminded of some poems I tried to write in my teens, and which are mercifully lost to posterity. Of course, you don't get to be Poet Laureate by writing like me, and there are plenty of poems in this collection that I appreciated ("enjoyed" would not be the right word) while reading them, but few that stayed with me once they were done. I found Duffy's language to be strangely inert ...more
Moushumi Ghosh
Apr 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Another brilliant collection from Duffy. Some poems stay with you long after you have closed the book. Personal favourites include 'Valentine' and 'Away and See'. These are timeless poems. Duffy is a national treasure.
Beth Kennedy
Duffy has been one of my favourite poets since I was a teenager. I received The World's Wife as a gift from my feminist English teacher and it remains one of my favourite collections.

So today I decided to read Mean Time. I'm giving this a 3.5 star review as I found it personally to be a bit hit and miss.

However, some of the stand-out poems in my opinion include Before You Were Mine, Valentine, Steam, Havisham, Sleeping, The Grammar of Light, First Love, Small Female Skull and The Good Teachers.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Carol Ann Duffy has never been one of my 'go to' poets in the way that Larkin, Hardy, Auden or Simon Armitage are, but I came across a recommendation for Mean Time, Duffy's fourth collection, first published in 1993 in a review of another book. I found it something of a mixed bag - not in terms of quality and inventiveness - but in the way in which some poems engaged my attention in a much more direct way than others. With underlying themes of time and mutability, it's a fairly downbeat collecti ...more
Jon Margetts
Oct 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2019
An excellent book of poems. Never really saw the appeal in Duffy until taking the plunge, and I can see now why she's so adored: darkly sensuous verses of love, eroticism, burgeoning sexuality, betrayal and loneliness. As ever, there's always the odd 'duff' poem - but on the whole, Mean Time is a real gem.
Steph De Mel
Despite its prize-winning status, this is not my favourite Duffy collection. I think this is because I have always considered her love poetry to be her best work, and "Mean Time" contains only a few examples of that particular form. Nevertheless, the collection is still sharp, insightful, and has moments of grace, beauty, and sorrow that linger in the mind.
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, lgbt
I read this as part of my a-levels so even though I love Carol Ann Duffy's work I do associate this anthology with school. I do however really enjoy this anthology. Duffy's work, even though it's poetry, is relatively straightforward and she doesn't beat around the bush with the themes that she discusses. She will always be my favourite poet.
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful collection of poems, though I must admit the other two collections I read by Carol Ann Duffy spoke to me more. Nonetheless, Carol Ann Duffy has become one of my favourite poets and I very much doubt she can write anything awful
Aug 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: poetry
This volume didn't speak to me at all.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: schoolio
it was alrite, i liked the one about sleep i forget what its called
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some poems really shine upon re-reading.
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wrote my Extended Essay on Carol Ann Duffy's poems. It was actually a poem from this specific collection, but I never actually read any of the others. After reading the whole collection, I still thing Valentine is my favorite. But maybe that's only because I analyzed this poem in depth and therefore have a much greater understanding of this poem than of the rest. I adore how Duffy rejects the conventional idea of love by introducing an object such as an onion as a representation of love.
Lea Dokter
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I absolutely adore Duffy and this collection only added to my infatuation. "Valentine" is my personal favourite.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The poems were good and very readable.
Poocy Mills
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Valentine is a heartfelt and beautiful poem, I had to read more of her work and found a lot more heart
Read for class
Read most of this anthology for English Lit&Lang but it was interesting to read the poems that weren't included in the course. ...more
some good, some not so good (in my opinion) poems. Duffy’s an amazing poet obviously.
C.E. G
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I love Carol Ann Duffy! So dark and clever. Favorite poems in the collection: Valentine, Adultery, Drunk.

Look at the smarts:

"On the motorway bridge, I waved at windscreens,

oddly hurt by the blurred waves back, the speed.

So I let a horse in the noisy field sponge at my palm

and invented, in colour, a vivid lie for us both."

-Stafford Afternoons

"Wear dark glasses in the rain.
Regard what was unhurt
as though through a bruise.
Guilt. A sick, green tint.

New gloves, money tucked in the palms,
the hands
Oct 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, queer
I didn't like this collection as much as I did Rapture, but I think it's a pretty good one all the same. I loved "Adultery", "Closer", "Mean Time" and "Prayer". I'm sure others will jump out at me in future. There are some absolutely stellar parts that just undo me, like these:

"I tell myself where I live now,
but you move in close till I shake, homeless,
further than that."

"Then, selfish autobiographical sleep

in a marital bed, the tarnished spoon of your body
stirring betrayal, your heart ov
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Dame Carol Ann Duffy, DBE, FRSL is a Scottish poet and playwright. She is Professor of Contemporary Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was appointed Britain's Poet Laureate in May 2009.

She is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly LGBT person to hold the position.

Her collections include Standing Female Nude (1985), winner of a Scottish Arts Council Award; Selling Manh

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