First-world-war poet and soldier, Wilfred Owen claimed of his work that “the poetry is in the pity”. In The World’s Wife, the politics is in the poetry. The politics is feminism.
But there’s nothing po-faced about these poems. They are written with such humour or poignancy, or insight or recognition, that we get the point, the many points, the points of view and the points of light. Like every good atom, these poems are composed out of empty space and points of light – the dazzle of the poet’s vision, the space for the reader to reimagine matter, the matter, what matters, what is the matter?...The range of Duffy’s imagination is vast. She moves easily from gorilla-scale to the interiority of the sonnet. Duffy loves the sonnet form – she says: “They remind me of prayers.” “Anne Hathaway” is also a sonnet – a gentle vindication of the love between the famously neglected wife and the most famous writer in history. For those who fear that feminism doesn’t include men, except at the level of anger or contempt, read this one.