Carol Ann Duffy’s Quickdraw and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116

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This Tusitala conversation between Mark Wrigley and Janet Lewison explores Carol Ann Duffy’s Quickdraw and Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116, both taken from the AQA ‘Relationships’ section in the Anthology. This animated  discussion examines the contrasting ‘event’ of love in both poems particularly in terms of love as an ideal or as a ‘wound’-even as an irony!

Students will find plenty of useful essay ideas in this conversation and both speakers offer lively analyses of the chosen poems.


Quickdraw uses the classic old Western convention of the gunfight and updates into modern age. How many ways can I hurt thee because you love me and this renders you vulnerable?

Ironically,  the  more we apparently communicate, the more opportunities there can be for damaging others  there may be  very little time or even inclination  necessarily to reflect.

I wonder whether our capacity for reflection has diminished as we live in such a knee jerk, reactive world. Responsiveness is all too easy for us and this may impair our compassion and judgement.

In Quickdraw surely it would have been better just to write a letter? Although maybe we love our over heated reactions sometimes as we believe them to be signs of passion and erotic excitement, this of course could be a destructive belief that spirals us out of control?


I like your idea that texting gives more room for pain – perhaps more room for misunderstanding? Perhaps  modern communications (Facebook, Twitter, Texting etc) give an illusion of intimacy. They are quick forms of communications that aren’t quite quick enough! I mean, they provide more opportunities for misunderstanding than a face to face encounter, or a letter which can explain more. It’s really clever of the poem to make emotions as old as poetry – hurt from love – using a modern form of communication.

Isn’t there another Duffy poem about texting a lover? Text in Rapture I think?  I like Quickdraw because it seems at once quite light and humorous, but still speaks of the problems of love.

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