“The Kray Sisters” in MARBL

Compared to Selling Manhattan, Duffy approaches The World’s Wife in a

London December 24 2013 002 Kray Twins Imprisoned at the Tower. Reginald (left) and Ronald (right) by David Holt
London December 24 2013 002 Kray Twins Imprisoned at the Tower. Reginald (left) and Ronald (right) by David Holt

much different way. We have discussed the concept of The World’s Wife acting as a collection of positive messages of feminism and after seeing how Duffy began to write The Kray Sisters, I believe that to be true. Nestled above the beginnings of The Kray Sisters are the words “sado-feminist” and “lesbian gangsters.” Instead of finding inspiration from the world around her as she did with Recognition in Selling Manhattan, Duffy settles on a concept that she wants to explore and is forced to invent a characters, or in this case, a pair of characters to start the conversation about sado-feminism. Convincing me of my theory is the phrase, “think properly about angle” that is scribbled in large print at the top and circled. Duffy knew what she wanted to say, but needed to make sure that her words were not taken in a manner that she did not intend.

Regarding the actual writing and editing process, drafting The Kray Sisters was evidently a more lengthy process for Duffy than it was with Recognition. I believe that is because Recognition was written from inspiration rather than invention with a goal in mind. It was imperative for Duffy that she pays attention to her angle and therefore The Kray Sisters was a poem subject to numerous edits and drafts.

The first appearance of the poem contains a few blank spaces where Duffy later inserted allusions to things like the names of superstars of the age in the third stanza. Those specifics were not really important to her, which made me think of our discussion of The World’s Wife and the use of lists. The Kray Sisters is not a list in itself, but a lot of its allusions could be interchanged with other references and still carry the same meaning, purpose, and angle that Duffy desired.

One thing I found intriguing in Duffy’s edits is that in the final version, the word feminism only appears once but the names that Duffy gives to the club, Ballbusters, and the twins themselves, Prickteasers, makes them more of a force to be feared. There are not as many direct references that there are in the initial drafts. For example, whereas the twins’ grandmother punches the horse in front of the king in the final version – the first version says that she punches the horse for the cause. The published edition is written with much more authority, but there is something about the lack of the direct naming of feminism that makes it somehow subtler at the same time.

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