I did some external research on Carol Ann Duffy and saw her described as a ventriloquist and after reading the first half of Selling Manhattan I found three poems that stuck out as prime examples of Duffy’s unique style as a ventriloquist. The poems Dies Natalis, Model Village, and Psychopath have characters that range from a cat to a psychopathic rapist. However, her jumping around from character to character is not just a gimmick. Model Village uses the transitions and the order of the transitions to send a message. With lines like “Frogs say Croak,” juxtaposed with dark topics such as sexual predators and murder, this piece takes a classic story children’s book detailing noises a variety of animals make, and spins it.
“What does Miss Maiden say?” is the first questions the reader is presented with and she is shown to have issues with her mother to the point where she poisons her. The other human characters all have similarly deep troubling issues including a farmer, a priest, and a librarian. Each person is trapped in their heads, swimming with their own problems. The librarian refuses to reveal her own insecurities because she likely does not even know what they are. The librarian has buried herself in novels and books in her temple of tomes in order to keep herself sane. The line “I peddle fiction,” is a telling quote because it shows that make-believe stories help the librarian stay detattched from her own reality and the thoughts that run through her own mind. She would rather explore the books of her library because they are the deranged thoughts of others and make her feel better about herself as they are what she calls, “stranger.”