Denise Duhamel

Poems by Denise Duhamel





  Denise Duhamel

There is both whimsy and violence in Denise Duhamel’s poems, a savage, brutal honesty that holds the reader captive and a dark, but playful humor that lightens the cruel subjects of her work.  Elizabeth Alexander said that “Duhamel is not just bold, she is brave, and that is the quality we need desperately in poetry today." It is exactly bravery that permits Duhamel to write with such candor about domestic violence, rape, birth control, sexually transmitted diseases and death. Her language is at once understatement and skillfully constructed drama.

In one poem she writes “[t]wo days ago I sent off what I owed to the IRS,/ writing "No bombs. We need AIDS research!" on the memo line,” while in another stating that for a cowfrog “desire itself is shameful.” Her range of topics remains as varied and unexpected as her language. But it is her delicacy of exploring the female psyche that leaves her poems reverberating in one’s mind. In “Bulimia”, the speaker considers “[t]he way she must have had everything she wanted/ in the womb, without asking.”

Duhamel’s poems have also appeared in Ploughshares, Poet Lore, Poetry Flash, minnesota review, Ontario Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Free Lunch and West Branch along with many other publications. She has more than ten books and chapbooks including The Star-Spangled Banner (winner of the Crab Orchard Poetry Prize, Southern Illinois University Press, 1999), Exquisite Politics (with Maureen Seaton, Tia Chucha Press, 1997), Kinky (Orchises Press, 1997), Girl Soldier (Garden Street Press, 1996), How the Sky Fell (Pearl Editions, 1996), Smile!, (Warms Spring Press, 1993), It's My Body (Egg In Hand Press, 1992), Skirted Issues (Stop Light Press, 1990) and Heaven And Heck (Foundation Press, 1988).

Duhamel has received grants from New York Foundation for the Arts, held residencies at Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony and was a resident poet at Bucknell University..





Poetry Center Reading:

    Fall 1997