The National Book Critics Circle awards reading and ceremony is this week and we're thrilled that Denise Duhamel's Blowout (University of Pittsburgh Press) is among the finalists for an award in poetry. Denise was the guest editor for this year's Best American Poetry and we have admired her poetry for a long time. This year,The School of Writing at The New School enlisted students to interview finalists for the NBCC blog. Here's an exerpt from Nora Brook's conversation with Denise:
NB: I was really taken with your phrasing “narrative postconfessional transgressive poetry” in your poem on finding new love, which comes after a divorce. What was involved for you in making art from such personal material?
DD: A lot of deep breaths, and a lot of letting go. I used Frank O'Hara as a starting point, a place from which I could build the frame and the anaphora. O'Hara could write about joy like no other. He knew when to jump up and down, but also when to hold back. In his poem “Having a Coke with You,” he writes about the "the secrecy our smiles take on before people and statuary," implying the couple's privacy is treasured beyond the public display of the love poem.
NB: The title of that poem, “Having A Diet Coke with You,” is a nod to the Frank O’Hara poem of a similar title. Do you see this book as being in the lineage of the New York School?
DD: Indeed. I am a lover of the poets of the New York School, its first and also second generations (especially Anne Waldman and Joe Brainard.) But Frank O'Hara was not locked only into the New York School. He also had many Beat poet friends and made a poetry film The Last Clean Shirt with Alfred Leslie, who also made the film Pull My Daisy, narrated by Jack Kerouac. Like many other contemporary poets, I see my work as not belonging to just one school. I am also influenced by the more earnest poems Sharon Olds and Dorianne Laux. Read the complete interview and find out more about the NBCC awards here.