This paper aims to argue how Carol Ann Duffy’s poems explore the poetic constructions surrounding the issues of immigration, ethnicity and nationalism under the Thatcher Years. Focused on the voices and positions of ‘outsiders,’ Duffy’s poetry ―The Standing Female Nude (1985), Selling Manhattan (1987), The Other Country (1990), and Mean Time (1993) ― is not only interested in the impact of the free-market economic policies upon the material lives of the common people, but also examines the treatment of national identity as strategically constructed and disseminated rhetoric of the policy.
Furthermore, Duffy’s way of poetry writing reminds us Jacque Ranci`ere’s critical theory of “The Politics of Literature.” With the concept of “the distribution of the sensible,” Ranci`ere points out that literature (and aesthetics) is about “determining what presents itself to sense experience” and it essentially involves the inscription of the sense of community, like politics. He also stresses that literature is more radically political in the sense of bringing in disagreement than politics. Evoking Ranci`ere’s theory, Duffy’s poetry seeks to invalidate the political subjectivization by continuously disrupting the immigration control, racial discrimination and possessive individualism under the Thatcherite. Ultimately, this paper analyzes how Duffy’s poems destabilize supposedly fixed entity of collective identity―class, gender, race, religion, emphasizing the ‘in-between’ space of the ‘outsiders.’ In so doing, Duffy offers us the new possibilities of poetry writing in the post-Utopian age.