Poet Laureate Writes Thrift-Shop Tribute

July 5, 2009 at 10:25 am | Posted in Celebrities | Leave a comment

carol_ann_duffy_203x152Great Britain’s new Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has written a poem in praise of scavenging — specifically, in praise of thrift-shopping at Oxfam, the UK’s largest charity-shop (aka thrift-shop) chain. In so doing, she has just scored at least one brand-new fan: me! According to the Mirror, Duffy “wrote the poem to mark the launch of Bookfest, Oxfam’s first annual book festival. The event, which starts today, aims to fight poverty by asking book lovers to donate to and buy from Oxfam shops…

“Oxfam, which opened the world’s first charity shop in 1948, now sells 1.6 million books every month.

“The average price of a second-hand book from an Oxfam shop is £1.60. But you can also sometimes find rare treasures. The most the charity has raised from a single book is £18,000 — for a 17th century economic treatise in 2005 and also for a rare Graham Greene book in 2008.”

Here is Duffy’s poem, a to-the-point paean to which most scavengers can relate very well, and which was published for the first time ever in yesterday’s issue of the Mirror:


A silvery, pale-blue satin tie, freshwater in sunlight, 50p. Charlotte Rhead, hand-painted oval bowl, circa 1930, perfect for apples, pears, oranges a child’s hand takes without a second thought, £80. Rows of boots marking time, £4. Shoes like history lessons, £1.99. That jug, 30p, to fill with milk. That mirror, £5, to look yourself in the eye. A commemoration plate, 23 July 1986, marriage of HRH Prince Andrew to Miss Sarah Ferguson, £2.99, the size of a landmine. Rare 1st ed. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, signed by the author — like magic, a new school — £9,000. Pen, 10p. Pair of spectacles (longsight) £3. P/b Fieldnotes from a Catastrophe: Report on Climate Change by Elizabeth Klobert (hindsight) 40p. Jade earrings and necklace, somewhere a mother, £20, brand new gentleman’s suit, somewhere a brother, £30. Everything Fairtrade.

Carol Ann Duffy

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