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Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time

12. The Cliché Kid

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About this Lecture


In this module, we read through the eleventh poem in the collection, 'The Cliché Kid', focusing in particular on: (i) the age of the speaker; (ii) the extent to which the three stanzas of the poem cover territory that we've already seen earlier in the collection, e.g. "the sound of Ma and her pals up late, boozing" (cf. 'Before You Were Mine'), "the old schoolroom" (cf. 'Welltread', 'The Good Teachers'); (ii) the jump forward in time at the beginning of the fourth stanza; (iii) one possible interpretation of the line "And me so butch in my boots down the macho bars"; (iv) the movement into clichés in the fifth stanza; (v) the movement from the past to the distant future ("when a long time dead"); and (vi) the confusion of clichés in the final line.


In this course, Professor John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores Carol Ann Duffy’s 1993 collection, ‘Mean Time'. After an introductory module in which we think about the poetry of Carol Ann Duffy in general and the collection as a whole – and especially the implications of its title – the course continues with a reading and analysis of each of the thirty-nine poems in the collection, one by one.


John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2021, March 01). Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time - The Cliché Kid [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

McRae, J. "Carol Ann Duffy: Mean Time – The Cliché Kid." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 01 Mar 2021,

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