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August 2004 Poem of the Month

Miles Away
by Carol Ann Duffy

I want you and you are not here. I pause
in this garden, breathing the colour thought is
before language into still air. Even your name
is a pale ghost and, though I exhale it again
and again, it will not stay with me. Tonight
I make you up, imagine you, your movements clearer
than the words I have you say you said before.

Wherever you are now, inside my head you fix me
with a look, standing here whilst cool late light
dissolves into the earth. I have got your mouth wrong,
but still it smiles. I hold you closer, miles away,
inventing love, until the calls of nightjars
interrupt and turn what was to come, was certain,
into memory. The stars are filming us for no one.

About the author

Carol Ann Duffy was born in 1955 and studied Philosophy at Liverpool University. Formerly editor of poetry magazine Ambit, she is an acclaimed poet, playwright and freelance writer, as well as regular reviewer and broadcaster.

Cover of 'Selling Manhattan'

Carol Ann has won several awards for her writing, including poetry collections Standing Female Nude (1985) which won a Scottish Arts Council award, Selling Manhattan (1987), winner of a Somerset Maugham Award, and Mean Time which won both the Whitbread Poetry Award and the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) - to name but a few.

Also an accomplished playwright, Carol Ann has had plays performed at the Liverpool Playhouse and the Almeida Theatre in London.  Her plays include Take My Husband (1982), Cavern of Dreams (1984), and Little Women (1986). She has also written a radio play entitled Loss (1986).

As well as becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1999, Carol Ann was awarded an OBE in 1995 and a CBE in 2001. She now lives in Manchester where she lectures in Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

If you have enjoyed this poem, you can borrow a range of poetry from the Scottish Poetry Library, who also lend by post. Telephone 0131 557 2876 or email reception@spl.org.uk for more information.  For an online catalogue, poetry events listings and more featured poems, please visit the Scottish Poetry Library website.

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