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Response To Carol Ann Duffy's 'War Photographer'

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Response to War Photographer

War Photographer is a poem by Carol Ann Duffy, published in a book called Standing Female Nude in 1985. The purpose is to shock people out of their complacency of war. Duffy has a view the war is filled with pain and that people in peaceful society can't really understand the full impact of war. The audience is whoever is interested in poetry. These days the audience for poetry is limited.

Duffy is friends with two noted war photographers, and they inspired her to write this poem about them. This poem is about a war journalist bringing home undeveloped film and reminiscing about his time in war zones, and comparing them to the peaceful removed life of home.

The themes that Duffy discusses about war are of how the press trivializes and belittles the impact of war but that it's really important that someone records the atrocities that occur during war, but also how we might be shocked by it for a minute, but then forget about it.

'A hundred agonies in black and white

From which his editor will pick out five or six

For Sunday's Supplement. The reader's eyeballs prick

With tears between the bath and pre-lunch beers'

Duffy's techniques include likening the photographer to a priest describing his darkroom as a church (simile), showing how important his job is.

'The only light is red and softly glows,

as though this were a church and he

a priest preparing to intone a mass.'

She uses conventional stanzas (rhymed iambic lines); each ends with couplet, as if to conclude argument. Poem moves from series of observations to a clear conclusion. This structure is especially effective as it is simple and easy to follow, while drawing your attention to the text which has shocking visual imagery.

War Photographer

By Carol Ann Duffy (1955 - ), writing about 20th century conflicts in general

In his darkroom he is finally alone

with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.

The only light is red and softly glows,

as though this were a church and he

a priest preparing to intone

...

...

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