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Answering Back: Living Poets Reply to the Poetry of the Past

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Carol Ann Duffy has asked some of the brightest writers in the poetry world to select a poem that is meaningful—or has meant something—to them, and write a response to it. With up-and-coming poets alongside more established names, and original poems alongside the new works they've inspired, Answering Back promises to be a truly unique and insightful anthology.


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Carol Ann Duffy has asked some of the brightest writers in the poetry world to select a poem that is meaningful—or has meant something—to them, and write a response to it. With up-and-coming poets alongside more established names, and original poems alongside the new works they've inspired, Answering Back promises to be a truly unique and insightful anthology.

30 review for Answering Back: Living Poets Reply to the Poetry of the Past

  1. 4 out of 5

    Faye

    Read: June 2020 Rating: 5/5 stars, best of 2020 This beautiful book of poetry centres the idea that living poets of today can ‘answer back’ to poets from the past and this concept is wonderfully executed. I have been introduced to some contemporary poets that I want to read more from; U.A. Fanthorpe’s passionate retort to Walt Whitman’s The Beasts, Carol Rumens’ own version of Larkin’s This Be The Verse and Clare Shaw’s heart-breaking The No Baby Poem puts them firmly on my radar. There were also l Read: June 2020 Rating: 5/5 stars, best of 2020 This beautiful book of poetry centres the idea that living poets of today can ‘answer back’ to poets from the past and this concept is wonderfully executed. I have been introduced to some contemporary poets that I want to read more from; U.A. Fanthorpe’s passionate retort to Walt Whitman’s The Beasts, Carol Rumens’ own version of Larkin’s This Be The Verse and Clare Shaw’s heart-breaking The No Baby Poem puts them firmly on my radar. There were also long gone poets that I have never heard of before whose words moved me, especially William Carlos Williams’ 1938 haiku-like poem The Red Wheelbarrow and Greek poet C.P. Cavafy’s Ithaka (1911). I highly recommend this collection to all lovers of poetry.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I'm not a big reader of poetry, but I'm glad I read this, both for the opportunity to revisit poems by A.E. Housman, W.H. Auden, Christina Rossetti, Ben Jonson, and D.H. Lawrence (who knew he had a sense of humour?), but also to see how contemporary poets have responded to their predecessors. I particularly appreciated the 'piss-take' poems, the tongue-in-cheek response that Duffy gives to Kipling, that Tony Curtis gives to Allen Ginsberg ('I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by I'm not a big reader of poetry, but I'm glad I read this, both for the opportunity to revisit poems by A.E. Housman, W.H. Auden, Christina Rossetti, Ben Jonson, and D.H. Lawrence (who knew he had a sense of humour?), but also to see how contemporary poets have responded to their predecessors. I particularly appreciated the 'piss-take' poems, the tongue-in-cheek response that Duffy gives to Kipling, that Tony Curtis gives to Allen Ginsberg ('I have seen the best minds of my generation destroyed by DIY'), and that Carol Rumens gives to Philip Larkin ('Not everybody's / childhood sucked: / There are some kiddies / Not up-fucked'). And it would be difficult not to be moved by the elegy Owen Sheers has written in response to John Donne's 'To his Mistress Going to Bed'. Not all the 'answers back' are successful, though: some are dull, others are pretentious - that's why I've given this 3 stars rather than 4.

  3. 4 out of 5

    The Book Grocer

    Purchase Answering Back here for just $7! This collection of poetry, edited by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, is based on a really great concept – there’s something wonderful about the feeling of worlds colliding and time melting away in this dialogue between poets new and old. Enjoyable for seasoned poetry readers as well as for anyone who’s ever felt like they’d like to get into poetry but isn’t sure how to go about it – this gives a taste of both the classics and the works of poets Purchase Answering Back here for just $7! This collection of poetry, edited by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, is based on a really great concept – there’s something wonderful about the feeling of worlds colliding and time melting away in this dialogue between poets new and old. Enjoyable for seasoned poetry readers as well as for anyone who’s ever felt like they’d like to get into poetry but isn’t sure how to go about it – this gives a taste of both the classics and the works of poets writing today. Greer - The Book Grocer

  4. 5 out of 5

    Blythe

    Thoughtful, multidimensional, intriguing. Thoroughly enjoyable. Something for everyone. I revisited several poems again and again. Altogether lovely.

  5. 5 out of 5

    BetweenLinesAndLife

    The concept behind this collection alone would honestly get 5 stars from me. As it is with many collections by different contributors, I haven't fully connected to every single poem, but the idea is truly brilliant, it really, really got me thinking and I do believe that it would be the perfect book to dissect in a class setting and it would gain even more meaning. Here are my favorite pairings, meaning those are not necessarily my favorite individual poems, but the poems that worked best for me The concept behind this collection alone would honestly get 5 stars from me. As it is with many collections by different contributors, I haven't fully connected to every single poem, but the idea is truly brilliant, it really, really got me thinking and I do believe that it would be the perfect book to dissect in a class setting and it would gain even more meaning. Here are my favorite pairings, meaning those are not necessarily my favorite individual poems, but the poems that worked best for me as pairs: The Red Wheelbarrow - The Green Wheelbarrow This Be The Verse - This Be The Verse (Carol Rumens) Allegro - Ictus Howl - Trowel The Suicide - The Manager The Lake Isle of Innisfree - On Leaving the Lake Isle of Innisfree Ithaka - Ithacafor Cynthia's Ghost - The Revenant Elegie: To his Mistress Going to Bed - Elegy: To her Husband Goint to Bed the lost baby poem - The No Baby Poem One Art - Quitting the Bars I also made a list of my favorite individual poems - both original and new inspired work: -The Red Wheelbarrow -The Green Wheelbarrow -This Be The Verse (Carol Rumens) -Humming-Bird -(abstract from) Howl -Trowel -Musée des Beaux Arts -Ithaka -Ithacafor -Insomnia -The No Baby Poem -One Art -Refugee Blues

  6. 5 out of 5

    J.S. Watts

    An interesting anthology, which I am pleased I have read. It provided me with an opportunity to revisit well known poems, read previously unknown (to me) poems by "classic authors" and to be entertained by the response of contemporary poets (some well known to me, others less so). Like any anthology, it was a bit of a curate's egg. Some of the poems I loved, thought the responses worked well and were extremely interesting. Others worked less well for me, particularly some of the more flippant one An interesting anthology, which I am pleased I have read. It provided me with an opportunity to revisit well known poems, read previously unknown (to me) poems by "classic authors" and to be entertained by the response of contemporary poets (some well known to me, others less so). Like any anthology, it was a bit of a curate's egg. Some of the poems I loved, thought the responses worked well and were extremely interesting. Others worked less well for me, particularly some of the more flippant ones, though I was impressed by Carol Rumens' response to Philip Larkin: "Not everybody's, Childhood sucked: There are some kiddies Not up-fucked." All in all an interesting read, but I was not blown away by it (though I rarely am by anthologies, simply because of their inherent variability).

  7. 5 out of 5

    Judith Rich

    I quite enjoyed this anthology, but not all the poems were successful. I was a little disappointed, having particularly enjoyed the "answer back" section in "How To Be Well Versed In Poetry". In a moment of self-indulgence, I would like to add a little verse of my own - to Ernest Dowson from his Cynara: "Screwing a tart While thinking of me Is NO kind of fidelity!"

  8. 4 out of 5

    Raluca

    Did every poem or set of poems resonate with me? No, of course not, and it's overly optimistic to expect that from an anthology built around a loosely defined "methodology". But I really liked the idea, as well as getting a very brief sense of what's going on in poetry today. (Or 10 year ago. I've previously expressed my skepticism about what passes for poetry today.) If I had to pick one pair that stuck with me, it would be C.P. Cavafy's Ithaka and Theo Dorgan's Ithacafor, although I also fondl Did every poem or set of poems resonate with me? No, of course not, and it's overly optimistic to expect that from an anthology built around a loosely defined "methodology". But I really liked the idea, as well as getting a very brief sense of what's going on in poetry today. (Or 10 year ago. I've previously expressed my skepticism about what passes for poetry today.) If I had to pick one pair that stuck with me, it would be C.P. Cavafy's Ithaka and Theo Dorgan's Ithacafor, although I also fondly remembering snorting tea out of my nose reading Tony Curtis' brilliantly concise answer to Allen Ginsberg's Howl. A great book to have around, to gift and to reread.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Colin

    'Living poets reply to the poetry of the past'. This is such a great idea for a poetry anthology that I can't believe it hasn't been done before. Forty-six contemporary poets have each chosen a favourite poem and written a response. There are a multitude of approaches: playful, challenging, echoing and combative. As with any anthology, some poems (or combinations of poems) strike a more resounding chord than others, but the quality is uniformly high and there's bound to be something in here to s 'Living poets reply to the poetry of the past'. This is such a great idea for a poetry anthology that I can't believe it hasn't been done before. Forty-six contemporary poets have each chosen a favourite poem and written a response. There are a multitude of approaches: playful, challenging, echoing and combative. As with any anthology, some poems (or combinations of poems) strike a more resounding chord than others, but the quality is uniformly high and there's bound to be something in here to suit every taste.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Good selection of poems.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alicia

    The various poets ended up backfiring for me since many of the poems’ messages were lost on me— however the poems that stood out to me were very eloquent.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stefan Grieve

    A response to classic poems, to which I enjoyed most the humorous, sometimes parodic ones.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Aly

    What a cool collection of response poetry!! It is pretty dense so it's not a quick read even though its short and the pieces are short.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Matilda

    I really enjoyed this anthology. It was interesting, unique, and something that I have wanted to do with poetry more and more as I continue to fall in love with it. There are some beautiful poems in here, and some not so much, but I felt together they made a fascinating anthology that I know I will reread.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I came across this in the library as I was checking out Carol Ann Duffy. What a fabulous idea : get a selection of contemporary poets to 'reply' to a poem of their choice. I love it! I don't normally buy poetry books but had to make an exception. Some replies are emotional, some play with structure, some follow mood, reflect changing voices and others are just fun. Favourite replies include: William Carlos Williams - the red wheelbarrow Phillip Larkin - This Be the Verse and John Donne: Elegie On his I came across this in the library as I was checking out Carol Ann Duffy. What a fabulous idea : get a selection of contemporary poets to 'reply' to a poem of their choice. I love it! I don't normally buy poetry books but had to make an exception. Some replies are emotional, some play with structure, some follow mood, reflect changing voices and others are just fun. Favourite replies include: William Carlos Williams - the red wheelbarrow Phillip Larkin - This Be the Verse and John Donne: Elegie On his Mistress going to Bed But you'll have to get it to find out who replied and how!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Stevenson

    Love the roger mcgoughs response poem to Edna at Vincent Millay his poem being a response to travelling called the quiet room which mocked a woman who sat in the quiet carriage and then talked on her mobile for the whole journey. Great book, really brightened by life after feeling gloomy for a while. I've already recommended it to about ten of my friends and will be returning to this book one day hopefully. But if not I believe that this book has hanged me for the better. On a other note 99 book Love the roger mcgoughs response poem to Edna at Vincent Millay his poem being a response to travelling called the quiet room which mocked a woman who sat in the quiet carriage and then talked on her mobile for the whole journey. Great book, really brightened by life after feeling gloomy for a while. I've already recommended it to about ten of my friends and will be returning to this book one day hopefully. But if not I believe that this book has hanged me for the better. On a other note 99 books down this year and only one more Togo before I've read 100 and read double my challenge!!!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Saville

    A quirky idea, which I've taken over a year to read - dipping in and out and re-reading / revisiting -as one must with poetry. Some if the pairings work brilliantly - often when an explicit reply is made or we see a modern take on a classic idea whereas others, less successful in my opinion, have a more subtle link.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    I enjoyed this short compendium of familiar and new poems very much indeed. The tributes include the predictably humorous (On leaving the lake isle of Innisfree by R.V. Bailey) along with the poignant (Elegy: to her husband going to bed by Owen Sheers). It has also introduced me to Sean O'Brien whose poem on Hull (Grey Bayou) I thought especially fine.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Em

    I have had this book on my bedside table for months and have been reading it sporadically. I like the concept of this book where by a number of contemporary poets select a poem and write their response or reply to it. An interesting anthology of poetry put together by Carol Ann Duffy, her own contribution being one of my favourites.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tara Russell

    I skimmed through this, stopping to get very engrossed by some of the poems, then bypassing others that I wasn't so keen on. It's an interesting idea, modern poets responding to their own choice of poem, and the responding poems varied from tender to poignant to snort-out-loud.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    While some of the modern "answering back" poets write insightful deconstructions, you can tell some of them are just phoning it in, with sloppy or silly poems that miss entirely the spirit and purpose of the originals.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I really enjoyed this collection of poems. I thought it was a very good idea to write a response to earlier poems that inspired modern poets. my favourite pair was Elizabeth Bishop One Art and Paula Meehen Quitting the Bars

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay

    This is an anthology of classical poems placed next to a contemporary poem written in response (all by different authors, Duffy is only the editor). Duffy's selection is superb, and this is a great recommend for fans of both old and new poetry.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jo Simmonds

    Wonderful - a very entertaining and thought provoking idea...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Annamaria

    mixed bag

  26. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    Fantastic collection of poetry, spanning a variety of periods, styles, nationalities. Well organized to flow through themes. Discovered some wonderful poets through this.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Shelly Dennison

    I really enjoyed these pairs of poems -a new one replying in some way to an older one. I even found some posts I want to read more of which was a real bonus.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zain Raza

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jane E

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty Niven

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