An Ode to Denise Duhamel
Right now I am trying to write a blurb for Denise Duhamel’s fantastic new book called Ka-Ching, and I love, love Denise. Who doesn’t? But how can I say it?
Denise is one of the poets I actually look forward to reading? (Okay, maybe not diplomatic.)
Even her sonnets, her pantoums, and her sestinas are natural and fun and don't posture as if to say, see? I'm a poet. Smarter than you are, you dumb-ass reader.
And they make me want to stand up and clap and say wow, and sometimes I do. (Now I sound like a cheerleader with pompoms, and it’s true. I am.)
And I love how Denise levels the playing field so words like Maidenform, nubbins, and Captain Hook are all in the same poem, and every topic and word is as serenely present in her work as every other word or topic, as if all can be a natural part of the day's thoughts and scenery—and it is--
which reminds me of how Denise was the first person who really taught me how to give a good reading. I told her I was afraid to read orgasm poems aloud -- in front of an audience. She admitted that people are a little freaked out by pussies, for example, and they would probably expect me to be somehow a woman in flames, a woman in red, or totally hip or flip, so I should be just as everyday as I am. Dress up as if I were going to church or maybe a nice cocktail party. Wear pearls, a plain black dress, flats, and red lipstick. Look all prim and proper like the woman I was raised to be and just say, as casually as if I was talking about the weather, Whenever I go out, I carry a pussy with me. Sometimes the pussy talks to me . . .
And smile sweetly, as if this happens every day. Now doesn't it?
Of course she gave me the instructions in a loud voice in the middle of restaurant that went suddenly quiet as the folks at the tables around us stopped even lifting and lowering their forks. There wasn't even a chink-chink. No, everyone else wanted to know, too, just how to read pussy poems. In a black dress. With red lipstick. In New York City.
-- Nin Andrews