There’s no predicting a Denise Duhamel poem, except that it might be about something you’ve never seen in a poem before: Mr. Donut, Rodney King, or nude beaches; Gertrude Stein, phone sex, or the Girl Scouts. Poems from The Woman with Two Vaginas, a book that was censored when it first appeared, are based on Inuit folklore. How the Sky Fell offers revisionist fairy tales, and the poems from Kinky are inspired by Barbie dolls. In her new work, Duhamel suffers postmodern angst when using the “therapeutic I.” Denise Duhamel has startled readers of American poetry with work that pirouettes on a tightrope above the personal and the political, the spoken word and the page, the irreverent and the sacred. Queen for a Day showcases poems from her five previous collections, along with new work.
Denise Duhamel'spoems are kinkyshe's like a girlsoldier some days a womanwith two vaginas on othersI like the way she belts out"The Star Spangled Banner"at the ballpark heraffectionate embraceof the world'sfull of grace(though the worlditself is not)and her titles dowhat titles should dothey make youwant to readthey texts they head
Denise Duhamel's Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems engagingly charts her evolution as a fictionist — from ribald, bemused poems about body parts and coming of age dramas to increasingly sophisticated mock-narratives. Her work is tremendous fun, but often there's an underpinning of sadness in it as well, which keeps the poems from being mere play. You'll want to read parts of this book aloud to your smart friends. Or to give it as a gift.
Denise Duhamel is a red-headed, red-lipped wild woman, a human and humane poet who isn't afraid to tackle any subject: violence, racism, A.I.D.S., bulimia, childishness, the myth of Bluebeard, the phenomenon of Barbie,. It's been a singular joy to red this "selected" and see Duhamel's work grow and develop over the years. Queen for a Day is exuberant, brazen, bold, honest as hell, audaciously unpretentious and outrageously self-referential, a Frank O'Hara meets Lucille Ball meets Sandra Bernhard of a book: sin verguenza!
Duhamel is an entertainer, as her new, retrospective collection confirms. . . . Throughout the book, each poem is utterly engaging, as hard to abandon as a chapter in a taut thriller.
Celebrates ideas and topics that aren't often the subect of bards and poets. Her playful, inventive way of string together ideas is evident... Despite the frolicsome nature of much of her work, Duhamel writes incisively about serious themes and issues. The clash between high and low art never seems abraisive in Duhamel's work.
It is not difficult, now that they've gathered in one place, to see Duhamel's oeuvre as more than wry individual takes on random subjects; she is a subtle and effective political poet, one who continually challeneges societal expectations of women and girls—clearly, restlessly, and not without wit.
Duhamel writes about Garcia-Lorca's Deli, Georgia O'Keefe's pelvis, a Barbie Doll in a Twelve-Step Program, Barbie as a Bisexual, Barbie's GYN appointment, and the difference between Pepsi and the Pope. . . . If you like knee-slapping, quasi-existential poetry, go out and pick up a Queen for a Day.
Somewhere between Sex and the City, Sharon Olds and Spalding Grey lies the poetry of Denise Duhamel, who in six volumes during the 1990s (all from small independent or small university presses) established herself as a vivacious, sarcastic, uninhibited and sometimes sex-obsessed observer of contemporary culture. Long fascinated by downtown New York, Duhamel got poetic mileage from her once-rough neighborhoods. Now she lives and teaches in Miami: this new-and-selected sums up her NYC years . . . Its humor, anger and forceful personality could make the book a genuine popular hit.
From the strange, complex materials of our society, the poet develops stories and meditations that reveal the distortions and energies of pop-culture. Duhamel's poetry takes its humor seriously and its gravity lightly.
Denise Duhamel’s previous book of poetry, Blowout, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other titles include Ka-Ching!, Two and Two, Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems, The Star-Spangled Banner, and Kinky. Duhamel is a recipient of fellowships from the Guggenhiem Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is professor of English at Florida International University in Miami.learn more