Poet, playwright and freelance writer Carol Ann Duffy was born on 23 December 1955 in Glasgow and read philosophy at Liverpool University. Her fourth collection, Mean Time – from which the poem “Valentine” is taken – won the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 1993. She became Poet Laureate in 2009.
Her work is read and enjoyed equally by critics, academics and lay readers, and it features regularly on both university and school syllabuses. She is regarded as one of Britain’s most well-loved and successful contemporary poets.
Duffy’s themes include language and the representation of reality; the construction of the self; gender issues; contemporary culture; and many different forms of alienation, oppression and social inequality. She writes in everyday, conversational language, making her poems seem deceptively simple. With this demotic style she creates contemporary versions of traditional poetic forms – she makes frequent use of the dramatic monologue in her exploration of different voices and different identities, and she also uses the sonnet form. Duffy is both serious and humorous, often writing in a mischievous, playful style: she plays with words as she explores the way in which meaning and reality are constructed through language.
She lives in Manchester and is Creative Director of the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her most recent book of poetry is The Bees (2011), winner of the 2011 Costa Poetry Award and the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize. In 2012, to mark the Diamond Jubilee, she compiled Jubilee Lines, 60 poems from 60 poets each covering one year of the Queen’s reign. In the same year, she was awarded the PEN/Pinter Prize.