Good poets need good teachers

Good poets need good teachers
Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy.

Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy, 58, thinks good poets need good teachers as well as the impulse to write.

The poet laureate of the United Kingdom spoke about how her education helped her hone her verse, in a one-hour reading last Saturday at the Singapore Writers Festival.

"I fell in love with poetry as a child in school. English was my favourite lesson from the age of 10," she told a crowd of about 300 packed into the Binary Pavilion tent on the Singapore Management University's Campus Green. "I was very lucky with my teachers. We were encouraged to write poems and stories, and creative writing was very much a part of education."

Another pivotal moment came when her secondary school English teacher lent her a collection of Dylan Thomas' poems with a stylish photograph of the author on the cover.

"He looked kind of cool and it made me see poetry as kind of sexy and glamorous. Which of course it is," she said to laughter.

Duffy was one of the headliners of the annual festival of literary arts which ended on Sunday. The author of nearly 30 collections of poetry, as well as numerous plays and books for children, she is also the first woman poet laureate of the United Kingdom. The mother of a teenage daughter has held the post since 2009.

An intimate dinner with her for 20 readers at Barber Shop at The Arts House was sold out before the festival began on Nov 1. Saturday's one-hour reading drew so many people that the doors were left open to accommodate eager fans.

Visibly exhausted by the humidity and left hoarse by "an English bug", Duffy read poems from collections such as The World's Wife (1999) and her most recent book, The Bees (2011).

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