Monday, October 25, 2010

Stopping for Death Poems Selected by Carol Ann Duffy

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.
Stopping for Death is a collection of poems of death and loss selected by Carol Ann Duffy with illustrations by Trisha Rafferty. The title of the poetry collection comes from an Emily Dickinson poem, and it is clear that Duffy channeled Dickinson when she selected the poetry for this collection and unfortunately I don't mean that in a positive sense. With very few exceptions Stopping for Death is a collection of poetry where the poems attempt to achieve self-awareness but often lapse into self-pity instead. Overall the book is also very dreary, and in the cases where the poems are they instead verge on both strange and remote. I think I would have enjoyed a collection revolving around death if it was either emotional or eerie, but instead the poems are mostly boring or just odd. Unfortunately my favourite one is likely the Dickinson poem it is named for.

The reason Stopping for Death is not a total waste time is one hundred percent due to the beautiful pen and ink illustrations by Trisha Rafferty which both perfectly accompany almost every poem, as well as standing quite well on their own. Her style of drawing is both interesting and perspective, and she is not limited by what is real or true, but rather uses her imagination to bring each poem to life, even when the poems themselves are often lack lustre. For that reason alone, Stopping for Death is certainly worth a look through, but I recommend focusing on the artwork instead of the writing for maximum enjoyment. **

Number of Pages: 144 pages
Published: June 1996
Source: Public Library  

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