Blogging about Duffy’s Manuscripts


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 Selling Manhattan and one from The World’s Wife—and write two blog posts about what you discover in MARBL, one for each poem. These two blog posts must be posted on your blog by 9pm on Monday, March 16.

Choose Your Poem

Go to the Google Docs spreadsheet for our class. Sign up for a poem from Selling Manhattan 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.

s15dh, Duffy poems

Working in MARBL

Go to MARBL on the 7th floor of the Woodruff Library to consult the manuscript materials related to your poems. While MARBL is being renovated, you must make an appointment at least 24 hours in advance. If you didn’t use MARBL last semester, you will also have to register ahead of time. MARBL’s hours are from 9:00-5:00, Monday – Saturday.

Before you go into the reading room, you will also have to request the materials you want. This is a separate process from requesting an appointment in the reading room. Make sure you do this at least 24 hours in advance of your appointment. You will need to request the boxes listed in the spreadsheet that you want for your work; you don’t have to request the particular folder number, that’s for your own reference. The name of the collection is “Carol Ann Duffy papers, 1970-2010.”

In MARBL you will 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. Cameras and phones are allowed and you can photograph the materials without a flash. Photos might be a good way to spend less time in MARBL’s reading room. Please note, however, that you cannot freely share or post the images.

Remember 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.


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 Selling Manhattan? 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 posts do count toward the total of nine 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. This means that you could write one regular blog post during a week and a second (and third) post about her manuscripts.


These blog posts will be evaluated like all other blog posts for the semester.


This assignment was designed by Brian Croxall and is licensed with a Creative Commons BY (CC BY 4.0) license.