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May 1st, 2009

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09:25 am - UA Fanthorpe
Sorry to hear the poet UA Fanthorpe died a couple of days ago. She is an inspiration to me, as she didn't start writing poetry until she was slightly older than I am now. She's not exactly my kind of poet, but I wish she had been the first female Poet Laureate.

She's dry and funny.

Here's a link to poem called 'Not My Best Side' which is in three parts, told respectively by the Dragon, the Princess and St George.
It's hard for a girl to be sure if
She wants to be rescued. I mean, I quite
Took to the dragon. It's nice to be
Liked, if you know what I mean. He was
So nicely physical, with his claws
And lovely green skin, and that sexy tail,
And the way he looked at me,
He made me feel he was all ready to
Eat me. And any girl enjoys that.
So when this boy turned up, wearing machinery,
On a really dangerous horse, to be honest
I didn't much fancy him. I mean,
What was he like underneath the hardware?

Here's another about love.


There is a kind of love called maintenance
Which stores the WD40 and knows when to use it

Which checks the insurance, and doesn’t forget
The milkman; which remembers to plant bulbs;

Which answers letters; which knows the way
The money goes; which deals with dentists

And Road Fund Tax and meeting trains,
And postcards to the lonely; which upholds

The permanently rickety elaborate
Structures of living, which is Atlas.

And maintenance is the sensible side of love,
Which knows what time and weather are doing
To my brickwork; insulates my faulty wiring;
Laughs at my dryrotten jokes; remembers
My need for gloss and grouting; which keeps
My suspect edifice upright in air,
As Atlas did the sky.

I never know whether it is appropriate or not to be like 'she was gay'. It seems a bit daft to pick out one thing about a person, but at the same time I think poems like this celebrate loving relationships between women.

ETA - metafilter thread discussing Fanthorpe and Duffy, with links to some more poems, including two of my favourite from Duffy.

(6 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:May 1st, 2009 10:36 am (UTC)
She was a nice lady and she did a great double act of reading together with her partner Rosie Bailey. Sad news.
[User Picture]
Date:May 1st, 2009 11:01 am (UTC)
I heard it was a great act, and now I'll never see it.
[User Picture]
Date:May 2nd, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
Rosie is worth hearing on her own if ever you get the chance
[User Picture]
Date:May 1st, 2009 10:54 am (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear that. She was a funny and clever writer.
[User Picture]
Date:May 1st, 2009 11:12 am (UTC)
Yes, she was. I think she would have been a good Poet laureate - good at reaching out to people.
[User Picture]
Date:May 4th, 2009 12:45 pm (UTC)
I am sorry to hear that. Not My Best Side is in one of the anthologies I have -- but I can't remember which right now -- and it has always made me laugh, slightly bitterly at the end. There is an article here about the connection between Fanthorpe and Duffy, in case you haven't already seen it.

I hadn't seen Atlas before, but yes, it does celebrate loving relationships, and in the context of her life, it's reasonable to say that it celebrates relationships between women, about which I was thinking again this morning, in context of the Bechdel test again, partly prompted by a scene between Martha and Gwen in Torchwood, which fails it.

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