It’s not too often that you get the chance to look at how poems come into being. But since we have Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry manuscripts here at Emory, it’s worth taking the opportunity to explore what you can see in her drafts and how they compare to the published poems.
The Nitty Gritty
You will choose two poems to investigate—one from The Other Country and one from The World’s Wife—and write two blog posts about what you discover in MARBL, one for each poem.
Choose Your Poem
Go to the Google Docs spreadsheet for our class. Sign up for a poem from The Other Country and another from The World’s Wife. You must sign up for a poem that has manuscript materials associated with it. You should each sign up for a different poem. If for some reason you very strongly want to work on a poem that someone else has already claimed, please send me an email about that. Please note that poems for The World’s Wife are on a separate tab on the bottom of the spreadsheet.
Working in MARBL
Go to MARBL on the 10th floor of the Woodruff Library to consult the manuscript materials related to your poems. MARBL’s hours are from 9:00-5:30, Monday – Saturday, although during Spring Break they are only open from 1-5:30pm. If you haven’t been in MARBL to do research since this summer, you will have to fill out some researcher paperwork.
Before you go into the reading room, you’ll have to check your bag in a private locker. You can take a laptop, notebook, paper, and pencils into the reading room. No pens are allowed. Normally you would have to fill out paperwork for the materials you want to look at in MARBL, using a call number. This time, however, the materials have already been pulled and you can get them by mentioning our class and my name.
The spreadsheet tells you the numbers of the boxes and folders where you can find materials related to the poem. Remember, however, that you must look through the entire contents of the folder(s) to find all the places where material related to your poem can be found. It goes without saying that doing this effectively requires your knowing your poem very well. You may take digital photographs of the pages of these manuscripts, which can be handy if you don’t want to spend a lot of time in MARBL’s reading room.
As is the case with all of our blogging, you are free to write about anything that you find intriguing. That being said, remember our class project: examining the difference between the two volumes that Duffy herself writes about. It would be interesting, then, to see you report on any differences you see between her writing process between the two different volumes of poetry. For example, Duffy, makes a lot of lists for poems in The World’s Wife; does she do the same thing for The Other Country? What sorts corrections and changes does she make to the poems? Does there seem to be differences between the word choices for these emendations or the number thereof?
Of course, since you’re only examining one poem from each volume, it will be hard to offer any particularly informed account of these differences. And the nature of the assignment might prejudice you to finding differences that aren’t all that apparent. Be aware of this potential bias—what Moretti called “finding what one is looking for”—and simply do your best.
These two blog posts should be on the blog by the start of class, on Friday, March 21 Wednesday, March 26.
These posts will count toward the total of ten that you need to do for the semester, but they are not optional. You are also, in this case, allowed to post more than once a week. As such, these two posts might constitute the end of your blogging for the semester. If writing these two blog posts takes you over the ten that you must complete for the semester, I will find a way to reward you. This will consist of either replacing lower blog scores throughout the semester or bumps to the final blogging grade. Which I choose will depend on what will most help the individual students who go over.
These blog posts will be evaluated like all other blog posts for the semester.