A NaPoWriMo Poem: Carol Ann Duffy's "Standing Female Nude"

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Not a lot of time today to blog, as I just finished teaching and have student conferences all afternoon. But I did want to share another favorite poem today to inspire all those NaPoWriMoers out there!

I first discovered this poem in my Women's Literature class my senior year of college, and Carol Ann Duffy has been a favorite poet of mine ever since. I've been purposely vague about my own poetry-writing goals for April, but I'll give a hint: I'm working on a series that attempts to do something very similar to what this poem does. Without further ado...

"Standing Female Nude" (1985)
By: Carol Ann Duffy

Six hours like this for a few francs.
Belly nipple arse in the window light,
he drains the color from me. Further to the right,
Madame. And do try to be still.
I shall be represented analytically and hung
in great museums. The bourgeoisie will coo
at such an image of a river-whore. They call it Art.

Maybe. He is concerned with volume, space.
I with the next meal. You're getting thin,
Madame, this is not good. My breasts hang
slightly low, the studio is cold. In the tea-leaves
I can see the Queen of England gazing
on my shape. Magnificent, she murmurs,
moving on. It makes me laugh. His name

is Georges. They tell me he's a genius.
There are times he does not concentrate
and stiffens for my warmth.
He possesses me on canvas as he dips the brush
repeatedly into the paint. Little man,
you've not the money for the arts I sell.
Both poor, we make our living how we can.
I ask him Why do you do this? Because
I have to. There's no choice. Don't talk.
My smile confuses him. These artists
take themselves too seriously. At night I fill myself
with wine and dance around the bars. When it's finished
he shows me proudly, lights a cigarette. I say
Twelve francs and get my shawl. It does not look like me.


Carole April 16, 2012 at 4:35 PM  

Nice blog. I'm on a bit of a mission to get my favorite classic poem up in to my top ten posts so it shows on the sidebar. So it would be great if you would have a look. Ozymandias

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